Hello, everyone! Today I'm taking about community but more importantly, how to build a community of active and supportive friends (rather than quite followers). I know the words "tribe" and "authentic" are insanely overused and probably bring the idea of hipster Instagram photos to your mind - but bear with me here! This is important stuff!
How to Truly Grow Your Audience
There's an obsession with numbers and stats and email subscribers in the online business world. These last few years, online business has taken off in ways we couldn't even imagine. We're able to reach people in every corner of the world in just a few clicks, but that instant access has begun to take away from something extremely important - community.
There's a massive difference between an online shop and someone coming into your brick & mortar shop and having you greet them, help them find what they need, then check them out. There's small talk, face-to-face conversation and friendlyness. Online shopping removed the face-to-face conversations that often bring customers back to the same shop.
We have to find a new way to remind our customers who we are, and to stick in their brain longer than a few minutes. This doesn't have to be hard, either. There's VERY simple ways to stand out from other online businesses without emailing 5,000 people every day or spamming them with pop-ups, offers and email signups.
Audience v. Community
An audience is people watching you - a community is people interacting, with you and with others in the community. Building a COMMUNITY and not just an audience is the first (and most important) step to standing out in a crowded niche. You can build your community in a couple different ways.
- Start a Facebook group. Get people talking, asking questions, engaging. Allowing your audience to join a group of other people is a fantastic way to have more intimate conversations and get to know your people. You can join our facebook group here.
- Start a Slack channel. Similar to a Facebook group, slack allows your community to meet each other and interact with you quickly and without too much work on their side. It also allows you to get to know your tribe and begin to follow them as well! Read more about how I use slack in the NCC.
- Be active online. No, you don't have to be online every hour or checking your tweets every few minutes - but, taking the time to respond to your blog comments, reply on twitter, and answer your emails will make you and your brand more approachable.
Stop checking how many people are visiting your site per day, and start paying more attention to how many people you talk to every day. How many people are in your slack channel? How many in your Facebook group? How many people tweeted your blog post? You could have 1 million people on your site every day, but if you don't know a single person, how well is your business REALLY doing?
Actionable Steps to Transparency
Being transparent is all about trust. If you say you're making 6 figures a month - tell us how. If you release an ecourse about growing your email list to 10,000 people, prove it. I've seen too many people claim they make X amount of dollars a day, but don't show the proof because of "privacy". Nuhuh girlfriend, if you wanted privacy you wouldn't be telling people how much you make a day.
Being transparent forces you to be honest and proves to your community that you are who you say you are. And transparency isn't just about giving up how much your income is. It's about sharing your ideas without worrying that people will steal them. It's about teaching people what you know and not hiding behind the fear that someone will steal your idea.
- Get your face out there. Whether that's by Periscoping, podcasting, posting photos of your face on social media or hosting a webinar - putting your voice and your face in your brand will instantly make you more trustworthy. When you hide your identity, it makes your audience wonder why. Get over your stage fright and put your face out there.
- Share what you know. You don't have to share all your secrets on your blog, but you should share them somewhere. If you spent years researching how to grow your Pinterest, why are you hiding it?! Create an ecourse to share your knowledge. No one is going to steal your ideas, and if they do, it won't be anywhere near as successful or unique. Don't worry about the copy cats, focus on yourself.
- Be real. We all fail, we all have bad months, we all get fired or demoted. Don't just share your success, share your failures too. It's okay to talk about how your client fired you because you stopped checking their emails. It's okay to admit that you didn't hit your income goal. If we all were a little more open about our failures, we might actually learn from each other!
What Authenticity REALLY Means
Be you, but be the best you possible. We've become afraid of being called "fake", last I checked, being called fake won't make you homeless, lose all your creditability or ruin all your relationships. If you being polite to a customer you really don't like is "fake", I'm guilty. Being authentic is something different. Authenticity is about being true to yourself while treating others with grace and love.
You might hate the customer who is emailing you 50 times a day, but that doesn't mean you have to tell them "You're really annoying and I hate you". There's nothing authentic or real about that - it's just plain rude.
Practicing what you preach. If you're telling everyone they need an email list, and you haven't started one, that's not being authentic. Worry less about what people will think of you, and put more energy into just being yourself. It's easy to make ourselves seem flawless online because we can edit everything before we speak.
Spend some time doing things live. Hop on periscope and show us your goofy personality. You're not perfect, and no one expects you to be. Focus on letting your personality shine through your brand and do so in a professional way.