Community Building and Building Your Following Naturally

in #communitybuilding4 years ago (edited)

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Would you love to know how to grow your community of followers? With follower count building, some are naturally good at building and others struggle with it.

Would you like to build a bigger blog audience with an engaged, loyal community of followers?
Would you like to build your profile as a trusted authority in your field?
Are you interested in community building for your brand, blog or business?

As a Best Selling Author, Artist, Art Promoter, Blogger and Community Builder - I've achieved this organically by applying simple social media strategies that are based around content creation and community strategies. I often consult today with brands, media personalities and companies on how to engage audiences. I've done this {for the most part}as a single individual without a huge staff of assistants. For some larger projects the brands or companies I've worked with have supplied some of their own staff to execute the plan I've designed.

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I'd like to share some of my strategies for building my communities and audience over the past 10 years with thousands of unique visitors per month (and hundreds of thousands of page views per month) I run many social media communities, the topics range from faith to art I'm a very complex person with a variety of interests. The communities I manage range been 5,000 to 16,000 members per community and there are nearly a dozen of them. This number doesn't not include my own personal social media profiles which I manage myself either, which have grown tremendously themselves which near 50,000 members.

How did I get here you may ask? My backstory is that I started my career in marketing in Corporate America for Fortune 500 companies working in sales / marketing, advertising and PR with various types of companies. I started as a traditional marketer with American household brand names. I later transitioned into writing as a stay at home mother of two small children working part time. I went from 100 to zero professional pressure as a mom and enjoyed being home with my children. As my children played in the pool during the Summers I'd write and that's how my career as a writer began really. I then began blogging in 2005. After about 5 years of blogging next came contributing to magazines, later writing books and interviewing others. After some time I started marketing and doing PR for those who asked how I had gone about building a following. With the rise of social media happening around the same time, a community of like-minded people was naturally taking shape. Time is everything in life and I was in the right place at the right time. Magic happens when the stars align.

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Initially I was creating my blog geared to women and mothers, I now regard this choice was an integral part of my success. Having a built in audience was established for later projects without and the foresight at the time for what was to come later. Many of those relationships have lasted a decade or more.

I recently have started a few new blogs. I'm not as much of an daily poster as I once once, but I still blog some.

Over the years, I've been asked many times to speak on topics such as social media and community building with the growth of our groups - art promotion, meditation, spirituality and women's communities. I've been asked to speak on particularly the use of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, blogging and how these all grow and engage a community by topics and interests.

My advice for anyone wanting to build a community on their blog, while establishing themselves as a trusted authority or expert in their field:

  • Focus on your content 1st and posts, ignore the rest to start!

Build content first – I'm passionate about content and creating posts with reflect this. I can not stress how important the right images with the right content are either. While also keeping on the same trend of thought with your other social media channels, this is brand building after all. I recommend that you forget and stop caring about about your stats, views, comments and SEO focus on content 1st.

Numbers mean nothing unless you have great content on your blog, so start with building content first. Too many people want to start, but do not want to put enough time in. They expect to get there tomorrow (never going to happen) with regards to building a large, dedicated following it's about time and effort. It takes lots of time and patience.

One of the most important tips on community building is engagement, not broadcasting – I recommend that you use your content to engage, later after you have built some content study the numbers as to which posts were viewed the most. Engage and not just broadcast it seems simple but there is a huge difference in perception. In between posting on your own blog, and promoting those blog posts on social media channels, you should be engaging with your readers, responding to their comments, and be willing to guest write for other blogs and attend events.

  • Consistency is key.

You should also aim to post consistently on your blog – starting with once per week and building it up to more regular posts. I use post it notes, notebooks, etc. to record my ideas and ideas for content, then draft posts and I schedule posts ahead of time, and now post almost daily.

Have a schedule on when you want to discuss topics. Keep yourself on a task schedule too. For example, Monday - organizing your site and writing, Tuesday - promotions , Wednesday - social media scheduling posts. This is just a thought on how to plan your social media during the week, and then blog about food on Sunday. This consistency of topics and tasks are a driving force behind success of bloggers with readers tuning in to engage on particular days for favorite content topics.

  • Time your posts.

Blog at the same day, at the same time, as readers are creatures of habit. As we connect with our readers is not just for personal blogs it's about your social content being consistent.

Keep your content fresh – As much as I favor regular posts, I also recommend that you bring fresh ideas to the table too this will encourage your readers to engage and take notice of new writing.

Vary your content, ask intriguing questions of your readers, and posting at times about topics that are not typical of regular posts, including charity events or causes. Or just lending your space to good works of others is great.

  • An engaged community builds itself.

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You have to engage with the community in order to have the community engage with you.

Therefore I recommend you visit, then also read other bloggers work and comment on other blogs within your own blog, as well as outside of your niche, and talk to other bloggers. When a reader comes to your blog and sees other comments they're looking to engage with not only you but the others who are commenting too. Encourage posts with allow engaging with other visitors to your blog. Not all of your readers will be other bloggers, but engaging with bloggers is a good way to start community building.

A visible active blog can create a visible active engaged community.

  • Become a social person even if you are not naturally one.

Most bloggers are blogging in isolation, so social events are beneficial in several ways - community building, marketing and brand building.

I recommend meeting up with other bloggers and businesses in your niche so that you can engage and connect with them both online and offline. Blog conferences are also great for making connections and building your following.

When you come together with other bloggers, you always learn something new, because everyone has something different to share form their experiences, bloggers are naturally GREAT at sharing information and teaching one another the ropes.

  • Reaching an audience.

Know where the people are – It is important that you know where your audience is – and this largely depends on your blog. Most bloggers are extremely active on Facebook and Twitter, but your readers may be hanging out more on Facebook at night, especially if they are not bloggers themselves. Our readers sometimes have a tendency to spend more time absorbing information than broadcasting posts. Keep that in mind many more are reading vs commenting.

On your blog posts, ensure that you have options to share to ALL of the major social media platforms. Take the time to share your blog post urls across your social media platforms, so your readers can see your latest posts and engage with you.

  • Time of day.
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Think about post timing – You should schedule posts at times when you know that your audience is online evenings and weekends are better for many populations, but if you are gearing your blog to stay at home mothers {for example} late mornings may be a better time to share new content.

To stay really active on social media posting once to Facebook and then a few posts throughout the day on Twitter at key times when you know your audience is interested and online. Lunch time works well for professional blogs or after work hours.

For many bloggers the evening hours are key. You know your audience is online. Parents are hanging out online after they put their kids to bed.

The times at which your target market is online may vary depending on your niche, but as a general rule, I recommend that you consider posting early in the morning, mid-morning, lunchtime, afternoon (for commuters) and in the evening.

For new social media platforms - you have a new opportunities to get in on the ground floor and build a big community on your topic. Since new social media platforms are being developed it pays to pay attention to what's upcoming and new on the horizon. You should try and test new Social Media platforms, especially if your followers are using them and make sure you secure your usernames on all platforms even you are not super active on all of them.

I have found visual platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest to be beneficial, as they are image based and provide graphic interest to readers and also a mental image stamped in their mind of your brand. The graphics or pictures also easily link back to your blog.

For many topic bloggers like food bloggers, parenting bloggers, etc, the visual social media channels like Instagram are really good and they are effectively like mini blogs within each post. Leaving a few paragraphs about the image, which encourages people to follow you, share and comment and connect back to your website or blog.

  • Giveaways and promotions.

Running promotions to market others or give shout outs for products works well. Or running competitions directly from a blog or brand engages your readership to get more involved.

What works well for blogs, people love free products and giveaways. In the case of my niche, giving away promotion when I have a campaign gets others excited online and my followers excited too.

Promotions can also work very well for other types of businesses, give lots of thought about the type of promotion and what you'll give away. This attracts new clients and customers like nothing else does. Mini size products, small samples, tasting or sampling events announced on social media bring out the customers. Announcing on social media to stop by our booth or we'll be taking part in a community event, etc brings out the people. Even adding coupons for products to your site creates customers.

The key is to know your readership and what makes them excited about the possibility of winning something or trying new products.

What does work are raffles for building email list and contact building are raffles. Bundling together 5 or 15 prizes, readers have more chance of winning and this gets more response than for a single prize.

Listing your promotion on a competition site can be a good lead generator for emails too. It brings readers that wouldn’t have found you otherwise. Gaining email subscribers to your newsletters and mailings only creates more of an engaged readership. With each new competition and these posts are viewed even more!

It is, however, also important to know the regulations for competitions, sweepstakes and promotions in your Country, State or Territory and to follow these guidelines.

  • The easiest way to create a community is through a simple hashtag.

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There is no need to run out and purchase a domain name or start a new social media page.
Often you'll see a fun hashtag like the one we use with our Art Promotion group - Share Your Art Sunday https://www.facebook.com/groups/1499031763700734/ Our community runs a Sunday promotion on social media called ShareYourArtSunday and what my role is I the share the content but the whole community is the content creator. Take a look at my Instagram page to get an idea of how a sub group is created within an existing community. The community is the content creator. Take a look at my Instagram page to get an idea of how a sub group is created within an existing community. http://instagram.com/sharonnicholas1

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Tips -

In growing a loyal, dedicated readership on your blog, the goal is to establish yourself as an "Leading Authority or Expert” on your topic.

The more engaged your audience is the more others will notice you. This generates recognition and the attention of major brands and sponsors. It has also resulted in numerous paid jobs in the future. This leads to more visibility and credibility.

I can attest to the benefits of creating quality content or quantity, and investing the time to get to know your readers, engage with them, and therefore build your community organically. Not enough is said today about organic community building. It's key to be authentic and genuine with your audience. I can say I've known people who have purchased followers or hired social media people to build their following, it's not always good. The issue with this is, yes you may be able to fool some of the people to believe you're popular, yes. The problem is when a sponsor asked to see your numbers and you have to produce your metrics and stats, faking it until you make it doesn't work. I can not stress the importance of building an organic following enough.

Do you have a blog as an integral part of your business? If not why not? What strategies have worked for you to grow your community? How have you increased exposure for your brand and build your personal profile through blogging? What tips can you share that you've used to help others?

Click Reply to those questions. Let's discuss.

{ On a side note - The very first image at the top of the page is going to going to be the one I'm using on Steemit for my posts. I just love the aspect of Steemit being a global community. The communities I manage are global, my agent is on the other side of the world and many of the members of our communities are elsewhere in the world. Truly being a good global citizen I embrace.}

Warmest wishes,

Sharon

http://sharonnicholas.com
https://twitter.com/SharonNicholas
https://www.instagram.com/SHARONNICHOLAS1/

Our Art Promotion group -

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1499031763700734/

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P.S. - Thank you for any upvotes, resteems, shares on social media and comments. Feel free to leave a comment so I can follow you back and do the same. Please connect with me as I plan to build some very large next which I'd love to include you in.

Blessings......

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Thanks for the good knowledge! So much information ill have to book mark it and re read some parts haha. voted, following, resteam

Thank you for the love!

I can't believe this indept exposé on community building has gannered only 12votes. Wish i can double vote.
Excellent job. Resteemed, following.

My bad, I didn't time this post well. I wrote it at 4AM. I just felt like #writing. #communitybuilding is so important. I can't stress it enough. #bloggers #blogs #followers @bigriches

I appreciate the resteem and upvote @bigriches !!!

This is truly a great post and I honestly and truly believe that this is the right way to start and I also believe that this is what the creators had in mind. Unfortunately there are thousands that do not care about the content. They just care about the reward aspect. I will resteem this for more exposure. Followed.

Thank you. I've been at this for years and there can be a lot of anxiety about building an audience. So much overthinking is put into it. I honestly overspent in the beginning buy up domain names, paying for hosting, and putting in countless hours of writing, etc. Then I learned I really didn't need any of it. Just learning to use social media really well and finding like-minded ppl was the key.

That is very true. Just stick to your little audience. It worked for me. Steemit is a really great opportunity for everyone. I wish you well!

@giantbear Thank you. I'm really new at paid social. I'm a traditional social media person but I love the idea of all these paid sites. It makes us all want to put more time into our writing and think about how we can help one another. I have a very good following in traditional social media, but how to build one here I'm guessing is strictly thru high quality content. I wish you well too.

Definitely. On Steemit we have to help each other. Drop by in the chat sometime on steemit chat then we can really have a chat...lol! Just leave a message and I will get back to you asap.

Sure. I'm the type of person who goes out of my way to help others. So I appreciate it when others do to. Now where do I find the Steemit chat?

On that dropdown menu with those three little lines in the right side of the home page just scroll down. You need to open an account there too.

Thank you @giantbear

Great post Sharon. I am a social media manager and blogger. I used to be an SEO consultant back in the day and now I don't bother with it. I am always learning and growing. Consistency is so important and engage with others like you said. I agree with all of it. And I think it's important to be real. Expect some people to disagree in a rude way but being real is what will attract others. Anyway you definitely got an upvote from me.

@miriamslozberg Mariam. I was concerned about search engine searches and including the right key words multiple times in my posts for search engines to be found. I no longer am concerned one bit. I have found community building has been the key for letting go of any concerns about seo. I used to write about seo regularly and I know for businesses it's still critical to build their ranking on Google to include key words on their sites. Yes there are many ppl who are rude and think they know more or are better at it. Yes itbmaybe there job. I have many communities I've built over the years with 6, 10, 13, 15 thousand followers. I think I have a pretty good grasp of community building and this is not my full time job either. Connecting with like -minded ppl and followers it's a great hobby. Realness I totally agree is creates the connection with others.

Exactly and as they say Rome was not built in a day. :)

Thank you @miriamslozberg Yes, I used to be concerned about tags, keyword placement and placing trending topics in my blog. None of that matters really. Write about you passions and what fires you up. Thanks for the upvote ❤

Wow - what a great post to wake up to @sharonnicholas - you truly are a gifted writer. I will be reading this post again later in the day as I am leaving for Larnaca this morning and sleeping over and then travelling to London tomorrow evening to see my daughter and son.
A lot to take in. Thank you for such an engaging post. Keep up the good work

Thank you @pandamama I appreciate the great comment on my writing. I love to write and if I could I would for write all day. I'll keep writing on here since ppl seem very engaged which is nice to see. Have a great trip! Say Hi to everyone for me. You have wonderful kids!

Thank you @sharonnicholas - I hope many people engage with this article. I know my kids are amazing.

Thank you @sharonnicholas - sorry I've been out of wi-fi most of the day and tomorrow will probably be the same but when I'm back in the UK I'll be back on line :)

Sure @Pandamama! Enjoy your trip!

How do you feel about posting something which is not related to the intended main-content?
In my case for example: I write little stories which explain the technology behind cryptocurrencies.
I don't feel quite comfortable to write an article about my traveling. It might lead to get "stuck in the middle" not?

I think you should be yourself on social media to relate to your audience. Please, don't post travel pics during your trip or you could be sorry when you get home. So many ppl do this and it's an Internet no, no. It opens yourself up to being robbed. No you know your audience better than I do. It also depends if you have built yourself as a personality or an expert in your field. A personality is themselves sharing a variety of topics an expert sticks to their field with their posts. An If your main content is "technology behind cryptocurrencies" I would NOT take a month break from that topic to post travel pics for weeks on end. It can turn your main audience off. You can sprinkle in pics here or there after your trip and write a few short blurbs about the trip. Placing pics on visual sites like Instagram or Pinterest are fine on a serious business blog NOT so much. That's when you're better off saving your pics for FB. Hope this helps some.

Ah this is SO amazing @sharonnicholas - hope this vote from SteemWizards brings the great rewards for your writing that you deserve. So happy to have read this

Thank you @Pandamama I'm shocked since I've only been on this site for a few days. It's nice to have been recognized by @steemwizards I greatly appreciate their mention. I've worked hard for a decade writing blogs, then magazine articles and books. Content curation has always been my passion. This is why my work as a writer has been found in the first place, based on my social media cintent I was offered my very 1st writing job.

How in God's name is there only 17 votes on this post, it is excellent, well thought out and really valuable.

Thank you for writing it. Upvoted and resteemed

Thank you @scottish01 I appreciate the kindness. I hope to write more to help others.

Such a elaborate write up @sharonnicholas I truly needed such writing to increase my following, Resteemed! Thank You so much! :) :)

Thank you @Ishratamin I appreciate the share. You're so kind.

Thank you @enginewitty Much appreciated.