How Entrepreneurs Can Build An Online Following
Brian Clark is big on the idea of building an audience before you build a business.
Gary Vaynerchuk saw the early days of social media and video and felt like he could do that and build his wine business.
Building an audience has become a way for businesses and businesspeople to grow. It’s a way to grow in terms of dollars and profit and also in terms of your own personal growth – knowledge, opportunity, etc.
I get the question fairly often from businesspeople about how they can build an online audience. They see people like Brian Clark, Gary Vaynerchuk and so many others with an online audience and how it’s positively impacted their lives and their business and they want the same thing.
Let’s go through the things it takes to build an online audience. You can do it, but it takes more than just wanting to have it happen…
Commitment To Consistency
Gary V. talked about this in the interviewed linked above. He recognized the importance of committing to consistency. To him, that meant putting up videos that met a certain level of quality while also looking for ways to improve. He also knew that consistency meant sticking with a schedule.
You could look at building an online following as being great at something. And greatness comes from doing something over time. It doesn’t often happen instantly. Even overnight success stories are built on years and years of doing something.
We see it with blogging. The most successful blogs are often the ones that have been around for at least a few years. Yes, new ones do come along that can gain some great exposure right away, but even in many of those cases (maybe not all) the people behind them have a background in the area.
I just re-watched History Of The Eagles on Netflix and there’s an interesting part where Glenn Frey is talking about his early songwriting days. He had two important takeaways.
First, he asked Bob Seeger about songwriting and asked Bob what to do if he wrote a bad song. Glenn had never written a song before. Bob told him that he would write bad songs. He would probably write several bad songs, but eventually he would write a good one.
Second, Glenn Frey also lived in an apartment above Jackson Browne. And most days he would hear Jackson wake up early, make a cup of tea and then work on songwriting at his piano. Jackson would play the same thing over and over until it was perfect and he committed to doing this every day.
Building something, even an online audience, takes commitment. In the case of online marketing and online audience it takes content.
Creating content on a schedule. Curating content on a schedule and doing it without an end in sight.
Vision is important in many areas in life. You probably have a vision for your business. You start with an end and work backwards on how you’ll achieve that success.
With building an online audience I think it’s good, if not required, to have a vision for what you want. You can start by looking at others that you admire for their work with an online audience and build your own vision from seeing what they’ve done and how maybe you could do it better.
It’s not easy to be interesting. Some people seem to have an innate ability to be interesting. It seems that most people know someone close to them that is a good storyteller.
But I believe that while not everyone is interesting, everyone is capable of becoming interesting. It might seem that personality can help someone be interesting, but I think people with varying types of personalities have been interesting.
It seems to come partly from passion. For you, that probably means being passionate about your business and the industry you’re in. If you don’t care, almost to an obsessive level, about your industry then it’ll be hard for you to build an audience.
Interestingness comes from things people are interested in. What are people interested in? Things that stimulate their senses. Things that make us feel certain ways.
Knowledge is interesting. If someone has a question about something, the person with the answer is interesting.
Entertainment is interesting in many forms. Things that make us laugh, cry, feel afraid and more all are interesting to us. We seek out those feelings. If someone is funny in a unique way we seek out more laughter from that person.
Building an online audience comes from providing what is interesting to your audience. Things that make them feel emotions and things that help them.
The other aspect is embracing your own personality…whatever it is. Don’t try to be what you think people want. Be who you are and embrace it.
We just talked about this one. Curiosity leads you to learn and find new things. Many people are curious, but they are willing to seek out the things that they want. That’s where you can provide value and build an online following. If you’re curious, more so than your followers, you’ll attract them. They’re curious, but they need you to fulfill their curiosities.
Or you can at least be part of what they seek. They might be just as curious as you, but we all still need ways to fuel our curiosity. And it’s valuable to be the source of knowledge and entertainment. But to be a leader in this way and to build an online audience you need to be curious yourself.
Audience Pulse Perception
Finally, you need to be able to understand the pulse of your audience. This means that you need to know what your target audience cares about. This is true in a way that doesn’t change. You have to learn more and more about what your audience cares about and never lose sight of it.
And you also need to keep a pulse on day-to-day life.
NFL coaches often talk about the importance of knowing the pulse of the locker room. What those coaches mean is that they need to know what the players’ motivations are and what is affecting players day-to-day.
Many players are motivated to win. Others are motivated to achieve adoration. Others are motivated by money and providing for themselves and their family.
Those motivations are the ongoing pulse. The best coaches understand it and never lose sight of it.
But there is also the day-to-day.
If a team is getting bad press and it’s affecting the players, the coach needs to recognize this and provide understanding and help.
Building an online audience can be great for you from a business and professional perspective. You’ve probably seen all the people that have built an audience and that have seen their sales grow as a result.
An online audience can also present you with new opportunities. Maybe new job opportunities or business partnerships. It can also offer personal fulfillment. You can help people in ways that haven’t been possible until now.
Follow the items above as you work to build your own online audience. It’s what the successful folks have done and it is what works for anyone willing to make the commitment.