The following tactics only work if you have a firm foundation: knowing your audience, serving him or her well, solving their problems, having a clear mission and message, standing out from competitors or others in your industry, etc. Beyond those big picture ideas, here are some boots-on-the-ground exercises for you:
HAVE A WEEKLY STAPLE Content is always king. If you don’t have one reigning piece of content that comes out weekly, this is something you should start today. This helps with algorithms, it builds your base of content to repurpose, cut up into short videos and memes and tweets, etc. It also gives people a solid reason to follow/opt-in/subscribe - they know they’ll get something new each week. If I’ve learned anything about content creation and marketing from my guests, it’s that CONSISTENCY IS LIFE you guys. Pick a day and time and try for a quarter and then if necessary adjust.
FOCUS ON A FEW SHARING PLATFORMS AND DELIVER PLATFORM-SPECIFIC CONTENT You don’t need to be everywhere (but reserving your username everywhere is a good idea just to protect your brand). On the platforms where you put out your work - YouTube, SnapChat, Medium, etc - make sure the content you create is tailored for that specific social network. My Facebook posts are more fun and personal than my tweets, and my LinkedIn posts are the least personal of all. This is something Gary Vee swears by and he’s right - your followers on Instagram want different types of video clips than your YouTube viewers, and so on.
TAKE AUDIENCE SURVEYS This is so powerful and so simple. The way to figure out who you’re reaching and what they want to receive from you is to - wait for it - ask them! Remember, growth happens when your peeps share your stuff with their peeps. Get in their brain and figure out what they care about, and you can easily do that with a quick survey.
RUN CONTESTS & GIVEAWAYS This is an obvious, tried and true growth tactic. Ask people to share and subscribe and so on in order to enter and voila, more people are suddenly seeing your content or brand. This should be used with caution, however, because people will totally opt in just to win, and opt out after the contest is over. If this is the only method you’re using, you’ll lose in the long run.
OFFER AMAZING FREEMIUMS A freemium is a free offer in exchange for an email address. This magazine is a freemium. Many people offer PDF guides or e-books as freemiums. This is again, a sure-fire way to grow your email list, which is vital for business today - no matter what kind of business you’re building. Just remember to keep following up with more awesome content, or else, like the giveaway strategy, they’ll opt in, get your offer and then opt right back out.
GUEST POST OR CONTRIBUTE ELSEWHERE This strategy has definitely worked for me. I am a partner with Entrepreneur Network, which means I make videos for their YouTube channel, and I write for their site. I write for other sites as well, and during a book launch I guest post on as many blogs as I can. This is getting harder to do, but it’s not impossible. Find the “write for us” or “become a contributor” page for the sites you’re interested in. You can also look for the “Contributor Editor” and email them directly. Make sure you follow the site guidelines and write your best stuff. Not sure you want to give away your best writing or video material over to them? They have audiences in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions. They have high standards and rightfully so!
GET FEATURED ON WEBSITES AND PODCASTS This is another no-brainer, but it’s also getting harder as more people want in on the action. Make sure you have a clearly developed hook that answers “Why should I write about you?” or “Why should I interview you?” The stronger your hook, the better your chances. For example, I quit my job and started my own startup is weak. “I quit my job and tripled my income in two months as a Yoga consultant to large corporations” Be specific, memorable, and noteworthy. You’ll have to follow up again and again, and try over and over, but if you’re asking the right journalists and podcasts hosts - those whose audience fits your brand and story - this will work and it will pay off!
COLLABORATE Who else in your industry can you partner up with for a project or e-book or video series? Or even better, who can you partner with outside of your niche, who wants to reach a similar audience? I have not done much collaboration but by interviewing big names, I am leveraging the audience of other people who already have a large following - which is something you want to think about with collaboration. Find someone on your level or higher, but to whom you can add value. My guests get written articles on multiple websites for sitting down with me. That’s valuable. Find what you can offer potential collaborators.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BIOS AND BYLINES This is a mistake I see many dream builders making. They finally get a guest post or podcast interview, and their bio is outdated or their byline has no links in it. If you get a moment in the spotlight, make sure you tailor as much as you can about that moment to get people interested in your message! Make sure your social media profiles, your freemiums, and your guest contributor byline directs potential viewers/listeners/readers to where you want them to find you and opt-in for your content. RUN PAID ADS This is what the big boys do. They take a portion of their income and put right back into audience growth, with paid ads that direct to their content. This doesn’t just mean Facebook ads, you’ll also notice big podcasters run ads for their podcasts on other shows, YouTube ads for relevant freemiums, sponsored Instagram posts that direct to video series, etc. If you’ve got the money, use it, and use it strategically!
CONTINUALLY ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE Once you have hundreds of thousands of followers, it’s understandable that you cannot answer them all. If you have a few thousand, on the other hand, you can probably manage it, and it’s vital. Answer questions, say thank you, ask for feedback and actually engage, or else you will not see as much growth. Note: This does NOT mean spend all of your time on social media. It does mean to carve out time each week to respond to people. Thirty minutes can go a long way!
JOIN COMMUNITIES Find potential fans/followers/supporters in communities they already love. This could be IRL meetups, networking groups, or online Facebook groups and forums. Make sure you engage and add value, without becoming spammy. If you find yourself brining up your product or services often, without being asked, you’re being spammy!
FOSTER A SENSE OF COMMUNITY When I travel wearing a shirt that says OKC or University of Oklahoma on it, and another Okie sees me, there is an immediate sense of kinship and warm fuzzies that happens. You want that vibe within your audience. Fostering a tribe mentality requires that you have a mission or message you rally behind. LadyGaga was for all the weirdo outcasts, Gary Vee is all about the hustle, what are you all about? What is your battle cry or anthem? Once you know what that is, you can foster conversations around it, asking questions and prompting your audience to engage with each other.
USE CALL TO ACTIONS I know it can feel spammy, but almost everything you put out should direct people somewhere. A single directs people to buy your album or sign up for your fan community. A blog post directs to a freemium. A snapchat story directs to a blog post. If you’re creating great content, people will have all these positive vibes going at the end of your video/post/podcast etc - double down on those vibes by asking them share/subscribe/like etc! If you never ask, most people will forget to do it on their own. People are busy and distracted.
PAY ATTENTION TO ALGORITHMS We are at the mercy of the internet gods, my friends. If Facebook has decided that 1 minute video clips are the most important thing ever for Q2 of this year, suddenly our feeds will be full of them. Make some! If you make amazing content that goes against all of the recommendations of the platform where you publish, no one will see it. The end. You cannot ignore the rules and best practices for Facebook, Amazon, Google, iTunes, YouTube, Medium, etc. These change often, so I recommend you pay attention to people who really study social media, and not read their how-to guides, but actually do what they do as much as you can (like Gary Vaynerchuk, Chalene Johnson, and many other social media gurus).
LISTEN CLOSELY This goes back to engagement and audience surveys, but you can also check out reviews on competitors’ products, or complaints/praise for people similar to you. You can get a lot feedback indirectly by studying what your audience is saying in your market (but not necessarily about you or to you directly). Also remember ACTION is the loudest of all - they can say they love this or love that, but what do they actually download or buy? Pay attention!
USE TIME-SAVING TOOLS Social media schedulers, analytics softwares, A/B testers - these things save you time and help you better serve your peeps. Learn how to use them!
PRESENT A COHESIVE BRAND We’ve all gone to check out someone on a social network and wondered, wait, is that the same person? Is that the same brand I was just looking at? First impressions matter! We can immediately sense if someone has spent time and energy on their brand or if their stuff is thrown together. You can also tell by looking at someone’s social media platforms how serious they are about their art/mission/ message. Brush up yours and increase the likelihood that they press that follow button.
MAKE SHARING EASY Again, growth is friends telling friends, right? Well if they go to tell their friends and your site is not working or there’s no social media link to click, they’re out. They’ve moved on mentally already. When you decide on specific call to actions, make sure it’s easy. If you want someone to tweet a blog post, embed the tweet button right there so all they have to do is click. If you want someone to share the freebie they just downloaded from you, make the share link obvious and easy to use.
BE A HUMAN BEING Guys. Tactics are great, but be honest. Be vulnerable. Show behind the scenes. Share the struggle. Admit when you mess up. Explain what’s happening with products or policy changes. People want to connect to other people! Try being more conversational in your written text, show more photos of yourself (or whomever is the face of your brand) etc. It never fails, if I post a photo of myself if gets way more engagement than anything else, even my amazing celebrity guest quotes/interviews/images.