If you feel embarrassed because you feel like you’re failing on your Facebook page, email newsletter, blog, or YouTube channel, you’re not alone. Plenty of people get discouraged because they feel like they haven’t met with success marketing online.
If that’s you, the reality is that you may have just missed one key step, or gotten the steps a little out of order. We’ve already covered Step 0 – Build Your Plan, Step 1 – Build Your Platform, and Step 2 – Build Consistency. Let’s see what the next step is.
Step 3 – Build Your Audience
Now that you have a great plan, and have been executing on that plan consistently for a few months, it’s time to start building up an audience. This may be individuals who are in your target market, or others like potential referral partners.
The key is to build your audience before you need your audience. If you want people to take action, and you haven’t been working on building that audience, it’s already too late.
Building your audience tends to fall into two categories: Macro Building and Micro Building.
This is the method that most online experts talk about. It’s generally the easiest of the two, the least time intensive, but also the least effective.
Macro Building refers to getting as many people as you can in one fell swoop, with the least amount of effort possible.
This one is pretty straight forward. It involves having some sort of contest people can enter, a cut-off date, and giving away a prize afterward.
Entry can be any number of methods. You may require that people sign up for your email newsletter to be entered to win. Maybe they have to like you on Facebook, or follow you on Twitter. Perhaps they have to be a subscriber to your YouTube Channel.
The prize you select does not have to have mass appeal. In fact, it should have the most appeal to whoever your ideal audience member is. While a gift card to an online retailer may entice more people to join your audience, they may not be the type of people you want to market to.
Remember, quality over quantity is key when building your audience.
Many of the platforms have specific guidelines, so be sure you check them out before running a giveaway.
And be sure to cross-promote! Just because the giveaway is all about building up the Followers on your LinkedIn Company Page doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote it through your email newsletter.
This is definitely note the best way to build your audience, as it’s typically completely un-targeted. But it can be a good way to build trust.
Pick a local nonprofit, and share that if you get so many new followers, fans, or subscribers, you’ll donate to the nonprofit. You may want to donate X number of dollars if you hit a certain number. Or perhaps you’ll donate a certain amount for every 10, 20, or 50 fans that you add.
Remember, it’s your audience building activity, so you can put a limit to how much you’ll donate. But be ready to stick to whatever guidelines you set out for yourself.
If you go this route, be prepared for skeptics! You may need to show proof that you actually followed through
Offers that are only available to audience members are another option for macro building. This includes discounts, coupons, and even ebooks and white papers that are only available to people that like, follow, or subscribe to your organization.
Of course, this can require a bit more setup than some of the other options, and may need more professional help.
Facebook, Twitter, and email newsletters lend themselves more to this, because of some automated processes and apps that are available. However, you could manually take care of it anywhere if you really wanted to.
Building your audience one member at a time, while time consuming, can often be more effective. After all, social media, while not the only platform you may want to do this on, is social by its very nature.
There are a number of things you can do to help entice people to join your audience. Here is just a sampling of ideas I’ve seen work:
- Like or follow organizations
- Give Recommendations on LinkedIn
- Endorse on LinkedIn
- Have public online conversations
- Share, retweet, or forward something they shared
Once you’ve done one or more of those things, simply send the individual you’re targeting a short message asking if they’d mind connecting with your organization. Although you can mention what you did if you’d like, I often don’t even bring it up.
Most of these methods include first performing an action for someone. You have to be willing to accept a “no” as an answer, and not regret performing the original action yourself. In fact, I recommend telling them in the message you send that a “no” is perfectly fine.
Making your request private also helps, as it’s more personal than asking publicly. And don’t be sleazy, but make sure you’re honest about your intentions. If you have a goal to hit a specific number of subscribers, likes, or followers, share that goal with them.
And if they join your audience, be sure to message them again and thank them!
Whatever audience building activity you partake in, it’s important that it happen after you’ve established consistency first. Although it’s not important to everyone, many will first check out your presence online, and won’t bother connecting with you if they see no activity there.