One of the most common questions you’ll find, in relation to blogging, online business, and any sort of online project, is the timeless “how do I find my community”?
Spending hours upon hours of your precious time writing great content, pairing it with offers, building links, and participating in social media can feel moot when you fail to gain recognition for your effort. You sit patiently, anxiously waiting for your first comment, your first retweet, and email – you need some kind of confirmation.
Well, you’re in luck because throughout this short series on community building you’ll make your way from the very beginning (finding the first readers), to building long-term reach, and push well into using professional tools to solidify your placement in your niche.
But first … let’s get started with the basics.
It all starts with a unique angle and great content
There are two things that need to be in place before you put time and energy into finding your community and they include:
To start with these items will guarantee that you give visitors a reason to dig further into your website, keep them around longer, and get them coming back. The unique selling point is in play to help you stand out from the crowd and give a reason for readers to follow your information whereas great content, however you define it, is the vehicle for delivering value.
For the first month do nothing when it comes to community building; use this time to gain a firm understanding of your website, content creation, and SEO basics.
The reason for this stems from the inherent need to offer something of value to increase the odds visitors will share and interact with your information. Gain a firm understanding and workflow in these areas and the rest will be a walk in the breeze.
Then you work the social angles
The next set of actions includes finding yourself on the social networks:
There are dozens of other large social networks but these five will hold the most bang for their buck.
Facebook will be your base of operations to share regular updates and start discussions through the use of a Facebook fan page. Twitter is there for the quick updates and in-the-moment discussions. LinkedIn will be a major component to building business connections. Google+ is for the ‘hip’ members of your community. YouTube will allow you to expand your reach through video content.
Create an account for each of these social networks and platforms, import your contacts based on the emails and names you notice active within your niche (by examining relevant websites and competitors in your niche), and begin interacting with these industry members.
Over time, by building your presence, you’ll have let individuals know what you have to share. People will begin to trickle to your website, interact, and slowly become integrated within the community.
Note: You may want to invest in an email marketing service to begin building your list once you begin receiving regular, repeat visitors as this will allow you to get in touch, whenever you want/need, directly to their inbox rather than through the social circuit.
Alternatively, you could consider creating guest post content for relevant blogs within your niche which will place you contact with website owners and their community; link back to your site and you’ll gain a few followers.
Followed by direct contact and rapport
Once you’re comfortable with your website, its content, your USP, and using the social networks/platforms to get in touch with would-be community members it’s time to go the extra mile, get over your social anxiety, and get in direct contact with those you feel would make a great match.
There are a few ways of doing this:
- Gather the email addresses displayed within the comment fields and begin manually contacting each individual that’s active in participation.
- Use your email newsletter list to send out an update asking subscribers to get in touch, personally, so have a chat.
- Digging into the social media channels to find personal (or professional) accounts of those individuals that participate in order to form a relationship.
Having the contact information or social accounts will now let you form a network with these individuals you deem perfect for your community.
Spend at least an hour, each day, catering to these individuals. Treat them like friends; ask how they’re doing, what they’re working on, and how you can help. Go beyond simply building a relationship to gain more comments and traffic – aim for the long-term where they come back time and time again, and want to help promote what you have to offer.
Rinse and repeat until the first 100
One final note: it’s quality of relationships, not quantity.
There will be an allure to show massive spikes in traffic, comments, and shares but none of this matters if people fail to come back to your site – you don’t want those that hit-and-run. Instead, focus on the first 100 community members which are really all you need to be successful in your website and online projects. This base tribe will give you enough reach, feedback, and support to expand into new and exciting opportunities.
That about wraps it up in terms of building the base community; be original, get in touch, and the community will begin to grow.