Building an audience is one of those terms or sayings you hear over and over again when you start talking marketing and social media. Building an audience can be simplified by saying building your following. Do I have your attention now? The next thing you might hear people talking about creating “community.” When people talk about a community they mean people who engage with each other on social media. Think about it like your online neighborhood.
Now here you are just scrolling your way through the internets and boom you found this blog post and you were like yeah I need to know about that. What does all this even mean? Why should you care? Have I described your thoughts? Good, keep reading friend because Imma break it alllll down for you.
What’s an Audience?
Okay, when you hear people tossing around the phrase “build your audience.” This could mean a ton of different things if I’m being totally honest, but for the sake of time let’s keep it simple. When you hear this phrase think this: your audience is whom you want to see your work, post, video, whatever it is that you do or rather whatever it is you share on social. Your audience is usually your followers, viewers or email subscribers. These are the people who are seeing your thing, whatever that may be.
Define community for me…
As I said before, let’s think of this as your online neighborhood. Your community is the group of people you engage with online. Anything from liking each other’s posts, commenting, DMs, and even shared live videos. Generally, communities have a something in common and the one type of community that might stand out the most is none other than, the mom group. This is an easy one to make an example out of because there are SO MANY! But if that’s not your thing or maybe you’re not even a parent at all another example could be a group like The Rising Tide Society. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, The Rising Tide Society is a nationwide Facebook group for creatives.)
Now you might be thinking, “huh, so I need to create a Facebook group to create a community within my business?” The answer here is, no. Community can come in many different forms, from Facebook groups to in-person meetups. That leads me right into some ideas on how to connect with your audience to build your community.
There are a few ways you can do this. You can do a Q&A session:
- via Instagram story by using DMs
- the questions feature (Instagram)
- simply go live
- comment on a post
- via Facebook messenger (though I don’t think this would be very efficient)
NOTE: if you decide to answer your questions via story, just make sure you create a new highlight. This will allow your audience and new followers can refer back to it from time to time or as needed.
If you decide to do it via DMs, the questions feature or commenting on your last post. Simply put the call to action in your story for folks to ask you questions. If you’re doing this on Facebook you can usually just post to your timeline with a call to action for questions on your Page or in your Group. You can keep it general for an ask anything approach or you can plan out subtopics to organize questions better. Either way, just have a plan before you start and make sure you set aside time to actually answer the questions that come in. It would be deflating for people who ask questions to not have them answered and it could leave them not wanting to be in your audience (following you) or community anymore.
Go live – it doesn’t need to be perfect
Yep, you read that right, get over yourself and just go live already! Look, I get it, it’s super intimidating. You might mess up or not know what to say or even worse only two people might tune in. But at least you showed up and two people are better than zero.
I went to a seminar at Social Media Marketing World and saw a speaker who talked about going live. This speaker said that when we talk about our live audience we should remove the word “only.” He said we should do so because if you think about it, those two people showed up and invested their time in you! Chances are if you made any type of impression on them, they’re going to tell their friends. Then the next time you go live you might have more people watching. His biggest point was if you threw a party and expected only 2 people to show up then all the sudden 40 showed up, you wouldn’t turn them away you would think to yourself, oh shit, I need more chips!
A note about messing up, not knowing what to say or even not looking your best. This makes you human! I think so many people are getting tired of the perfect white kitchens and perfectly composed insta photos and Pinterest pins. We’re yearning for more realness, anyone can fake a perfect life. It’s when we get more raw and real that we truly start making connections. Think about that next time you’re trying to talk yourself out of going live.
Stop worrying about yourself and start investing in others
This is one thing about social media that we can all use a little practice in, investing our time into others. Often as I said before we get so caught up in making sure our feeds look pretty and how many likes or comments (engagement) we’re getting on each post. Then when we’re done worrying about that, we’re checking how many people viewed our story and what our engagement rate is or how many people we reached this week. Have I gotten into your brain yet?
When are we going to stop being SO self-absorbed?! Think about if you just went through your own profile and clicked on a few of the hashtags you’ve used on your photos. Then you engaged with other people who used those same hashtags. What would happen? Would you possibly make a new friend? Could you find a new person to follow who you’d enjoy seeing in your feed? And besides, you don’t have ANYTHING to lose by doing this. Yes, it’s going to take a little bit of your time but y’all YOUR LIKES ARE FREE!
Poll your audience
Our social networks get new features what seems like weekly. One you can use to connect with your audience pretty easily is polling features! When you poll your audience you’re learning more about their likes and dislikes. Your audience can help you make decisions on what to post on your blog, what to carry in your shop, your dinner, an outfit, how to decorate something, the list could seriously go on forever. I think polling your audience can help you and your audience feel more connected to each other. Especially when you SHARE the results! I think that might be the most important part of this one.
Sharing the results of a poll automatically groups people together based on what they chose. Depending on the platform your audience may or may not be able to see who voted for what. I think both options are okay people your audience knows what they voted for and either way they’ll take comfort that you valued their opinion or you were curious enough to ask.
In closing, creating community is much less about having a “mission” or a brand than it is just about connecting with people. I think that’s the very reason we turn to social media in the first place because we’re looking for connection and sometimes inspiration. Social media was built on the idea of community and I think it’s so easy to get lost in playing the me show or even just trying to capture your own perfectly composed photo to rival what’s her/his name. If we just step back and take the time to connect we’d all have a happier and maybe even a healthier relationship with social media.