How exactly do you grow an audience? How do you gain a loyal following that compels people to buy your products? These are hard questions, but worth asking. When I think about this concept, I always go back to one of my favorite movies growing up as a kid: Field of Dreams.
The movie starts out with an Iowa farmer hearing voices while tending to his corn. “If you build it, he will come,” they say. It’s probably one of the most memorable quotes in the modern cinema.
As a child of the 80s, I probably held on to this quote for more than it was worth. I think for most of my career, I’ve relied on this quote to help guide me, foolishly thinking that if I were to write blog posts, people will come and read my articles. If I build a product, people will show up and buy it. Sadly, that’s not really how things work. In reality, you have to put in a lot more work for that to happen.
So, how exactly do you grow your audience? How do you gain a following for your products? These are great questions. Ones we’ll start to tackle. But before we do, we should probably create a shared understanding of what our definition of audience is.
Defining the Term Audience
When talking about an audience, I like to define them as one or more of the following. They:
- Access your content once and return for more
- Subscribe to your content (i.e. email list, podcast, YouTube channel, etc), where you now get to control when you give them more content
- Actively seek you out on social media so they can consume more of your content.
With this definition, we can agree that we’re not talking about people who just visit your website; these are people who enjoy your content and consume it either on your site or on your digital channels more than once.
Know Your Audience
One of the first steps to growing your audience is to learn all about them. Key questions you should ask yourself include: who they are, what they care about, and where they spend their time.
As an example, if you’re going to create content about drones, you’ll want to know demographic information about your audience, which websites they frequent, who they follow on social media, what related interests they might have, and potentially what brands they like.
All this information should help you get to know your audience so you can speak their vernacular. It also helps to know what type of content they might find useful, and where you can find them when you’re ready to start sharing content.
Once you have a good understanding of who your audience is, you can begin to create content that they consider valuable. By providing value, you create trust and authority in the space. This helps a lot if you are trying to become a subject matter expert or sell a product.
Providing value can vary depending on the audience and type of content you create. To continue the example of drone users, you might find that drone enthusiasts crave reviews and tutorials, so in this case, video content works the best since drones are innately visual. Whatever the content, if you are providing valuable information to your audience, you can begin to grow your following.
I always find that when you start providing value to someone, even if it’s just one person, they come back for more. They also tell their friends. Ultimately, you will start growing your following and that will result in audience growth.
Meet Them Where They Spend Time
You can’t always expect people to come to you, so instead, you should go to them. Determine where your ideal audience is and then share your content there. For example, you might find that people who love drones spend a lot of time on YouTube and Facebook. So you can provide value to them by creating your own videos and sharing them on on the same social media platforms where they’re already spending time. But how do you do that? How do you show them the value you can provide? Well if you are looking at YouTube, you can create your own videos. Get your drone up and start flying. Talk about the features or make a video review of a new drone. Then, post it to YouTube and share that video on Facebook in groups, your wall, and really anywhere else fellow drone users might be.
The results? You’ll get more people checking out your content. And if your content is valuable to them, then hopefully they will come back to view more. If you can get people to consume a couple pieces of your content, then you know you can count on them as your audience.
As you grow your audience, you’ll want to capture their contact information so you can notify them when you produce new, valuable content. You can do this in a myriad of ways, ranging from building a subscriber list on YouTube, capturing emails in a form on your site, using a Call-to-Action (CTA) in a video, or even by building a Facebook group.
Growing your subscribers will help to grow your audience. And at the end of the day, if you want to have a following or sell a product, you are going to need an audience to reach out to.