It is indeed daunting and seemingly impossible to build an online following for your business in a few days. However, following the steps listed below will definitely put you on the path to gaining a significant number of viewers and prospective customers effectively and effortlessly.
Step 1: Identify your target audience
There is no point in ideating and putting in time and effort to create amazing content if there is no guaranteed viewership. Even the greatest art out there is not art unless there is a crowd to appreciate it. Therefore, before putting your product, service or content out there for the world to see, there is a need to capture people’s attention. Your aim should not be to gain an arbitrary group of followers, but a group of individuals who are interested in what you have to offer. Just like a social media influencer prefers leverage to followers and an online blogger would prefer readers to followers, your company needs potential customers and sales, and not followers. The first step is to make a list of all the platforms, websites and social media apps that your target audience is likely to visit. You could also replace for social media accounts, blogs and hashtags. A simple Google replace will do, as long as you know what you are looking for. There is a need to remain focused and aware of your requirements.
Step 2: Capture the attention of like-minded individuals
The saying “Birds of a feather flock together” holds true even in the case of your replace for interested individuals. Networking both online and offline is crucial to this process. An extremely useful tool in this process is LinkedIn. Reaching out to different people and identifying those who have similar views is extremely simple- just a simple text will do, and you have no idea about the kind of wonders you can achieve with it. Sending a message to your existing contacts is easier, since you have quite a lot of room to work with. Remember to attach links to your brochure/website/other relevant information in your message. This does away with the need to send multiple emails to your contacts, with attached PDFs and supplementary information. This process does not demand anything from the receivers or sell your idea to them. The entire objective is to shoot your shot without intent.
Step 3: Get featured online
Using the contacts you have made in the process of networking as described above, try as much as you can to get your brand featured online. For example, if you are trying to start a photography service, get your content and details featured on popular photography and videography blogs that are frequented by your target audience. This will help you accrue a whole new set of followers consisting of their readers. Irrespective of the kind of content you are sharing or the product/service you are trying to promote, there are always websites, forums, podcasts, bloggers, vloggers and influencers who will be willing to share your content and promote it. All that is required from your side is generating content that they will be ready to share on their respective platforms.
Step 4: Find groups or communities to be a part of
After you have gotten your work featured online and introduced people to your brand, the next goal is to consolidate your following and establish a permanent channel where you can share updates, new products and other information about your brand. Eventually, you will reach a point where you can no longer spam your contacts on LinkedIn with messages, or ask your friends for a personal favour to market your ideas. The objective of joining groups or channels is to find a way to share your work free of cost, without having to incessantly flood people’s inboxes. Be on the lookout for local community Facebook groups in your city, reply to relevant questions in Quora with your information and content, reach out to other people on Instagram and Twitter by means of hashtags and direct messages, comment on YouTube videos and vlogs, and attend networking events for specific kinds of businesses in your local area or region. This is often a step that several people tend to omit as they cannot be bothered to implement it, failing to realize that this is a step which helps you consolidate your company. This area will definitely give you an edge over your competition, and it shows that you are serious about building an audience for your content and brand. So, the next time you are scrolling through your social media, try out the above-mentioned steps, and you will definitely not regret it!
Step 5: The importance of returning the favour or reciprocating
There is indeed a joy and satisfaction that comes with giving. We must never give with the intention of receiving- never expect something in return. However, giving does initiate the process of reciprocation, which is a crucial part of building a steady following. As spiritual and meaningless this all sounds, it is worth giving a shot.
Let us imagine that a contact you made during the process of networking does you a huge favour and features you on the page of a very famous influencer, boosting your ratings and increasing interest in your brand. This will definitely make you feel like doing something in return, and not coming through with that will just create feelings of guilt. This is where reciprocation comes into the picture, highlighting the importance of having a two-way connection with your contacts and audience. There is a compulsion to give something back, regardless of whatever you receive. This idea does seem quite manipulative and desperate, but it is a surefire way to grow your audience. In exchange for the expertise, knowledge and ideas you share with the, your follower base will give you their support, gratitude and contribute to the growth of your brand. So, don’t hesitate to put yourself out there and share what you know with others.
However, don’t expect people to follow you and blindly agree with your opinions and whatever you have to say. Writing about your brand and posting new content every day will not automatically lead to a rise in traffic to your online website or increase interest in your company. Always put out content that will evoke a change in your viewers, and make them think. Thought-provoking, engaging and interesting content will bring about a change in the thoughts and actions of your audience. Eventually, you will get back enough to make up for all the effort you put in, and it will be a worthwhile and rewarding cause. Making an impact on someone’s life with your content will guarantee their attention, respect and loyalty to your brand and its products and services. It is important to not just show or display your products, but also make customers feel something in the process.
Step 6: Gaining followers is a gradual process, like compound interest
In the world of digital marketing, followers are often compared to stocks. It is alright to start with a small value, irrespective of the kind of targets you have set. The more time and effort you invest in the process, the larger your audience will grow over time. Remember to set reasonable targets for followers, as you will be averaging very few followers at the beginning of your online endeavour. Set monthly goals, and make a note of your progress, be it good or bad. If you are falling short, adjust your goals accordingly. Once you have built your initial audience-based, the pace of growth will increase.
Ultimately, it is not the number of followers that matter, but the value and growth that they promise. It is always better to have 100 attentive and dedicated followers when compared to 1000 people who do not care about your cause. By following all the steps delineated above, you will be able to build an entire portfolio of customers and investors and not just a group of flighty followers.