Podcast: The Secret to Growing Your Audience Online
Guess what? So the secret to growing your audience online is that there isn’t really a big secret. It’s really simple, actually. It’s all about consistency. Consistency in marketing, consistency in serving your audience, and consistency in getting better as you go.
Digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads every day. (Source: “Finding Brand Success in the Digital World”) That’s a LOT of stuff. It’s easy to let a statistic like that overwhelm you and make you feel like there’s no hope, but there IS hope.
You don’t need millions of people in your audience to be successful. You only need a minimum viable audience. I just finished reading Seth Godin’s book, “This is Marketing.” He teaches the concept of focusing on the MINIMUM number of people that you’d actually need to make a purchase to be successful. This has nothing to do with distractions like Instagram followers, likes, how many people saw your IG story. None of that.
For example, if your goal is to have a side hustle that generates $30,000 in income for you per year. You need only $2,500 per month. And for the products/services that you offer, lets say you have an online course that costs $500, that means you only need to sell 5 courses per month to hit your goal. That’s it! Just 5 people a month and 60 people over an entire year.
Seth also said the key to finding YOUR people is considering the reasons why people would buy what you’re selling. People typically buy because of how something will make them feel—successful, better image, more confident, whatever. Think about how your target audience will benefit from what you have to offer and how those benefits will make them feel. Then focus on educating them about those benefits using your expertise.
Once you know who you’re targeting and what benefits are that you’re offering them, you can go hard with creating valuable content to serve them consistently, which will be the key to growth. Too many people post on social media 1 or 2 times and don’t get the engagement they want right away and they think it doesn’t work, but creating valuable content and showing off your expertise on a regular basis is what will make people pay attention to you, when they’re inundated with so many ads every day. You can’t do it here and there. It has to become a part of your business process.
You can give content to your audience via social media, videos, podcasts, blog posts, IG stories, IG TV, live video, whatever form you enjoy most. Your content will help you to build trust and trust is the key to getting the minimum 60 buyers you need, in our example. People are wary online and if you can’t demonstrate why new people should trust you and why you actually know what you’re talking about, you’ll be limited to only relying on people you already know to buy. And that’s not sustainable for growth or to hit your goals.
To be consistent with content, try out these tips!
1. Choose 1 or 2 types of content that you most enjoy creating and stick to that.
It’s easy to think you have to do ALL THE THINGS when it comes to creating content. It’s great if you have time and if you enjoy it, but if you don’t have time and you hate it, it’s easy to get frustrated and quit altogether. And stopping altogether will not help your business at all.
Instead, choose 1 or 2 types of content that you enjoy creating and create at least 1 or 2 new pieces per week. This could be an IG/Facebook live video, YouTube video, blog post, podcast, whatever you want. Just make sure it’s valuable offering tips that your audience can actually use, whether they buy or not.
Content also helps you create brand recognition because if all you’re doing is telling people to buy right away all over social media, and they aren’t ready to buy right now, you’re not giving them a reason to visit your website. Content gives people another reason to visit your website, even if they’re not ready to buy yet. Once they’re on your site and they see how valuable your content is, they’ll remember that, you can get them on your email list with a content upgrade (more on that in tip #5), and they may even share the content with a friend. Creating shareable content also helps to grow your audience. Think about it. People are much more likely to share valuable content with friends than they are to share pricing pages or shop pages. Those things have no value until someone is ready to buy. By drawing them in with valuable information, you warm them up and the service inquires and sales will come in.
2. Promote the content consistently.
You can’t share your content 1 time and think that’s enough. I’m sure you’re tired of the statistic, but remember, we’re seeing 4,000 ads a day around here. People need reminders. Create a plan to promote your content consistently. You can use scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Meet Edgar and Tailwind to schedule content in advance to be posted on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This way, you will be consistently promoting, but you won’t have to do it manually every day. Usually, I’ll schedule my posts for those platforms on Sunday or Monday and I’m done with it for the entire week! I usually try to do at least 3 a day on each platform. I share 2 posts that are mine and 1 from someone else in my field, on a topic that my audience would find helpful.
Remember, that posting consistently isn’t being pushy when you’re offering people valuable information that they can use. It’s only pushy when you’re constantly asking them to buy without giving them anything to help them out. It seems counter-intuitive, but the more you show up and serve your audience, the more purchases you will see as time goes on.
3. Create a content plan.
You can create a content plan based on the topics that your audience struggles with. What are their common problems? What are questions that you get asked frequently? Those can all content topics. Content can be created no matter what you do. If you’re a photographer, you can create content on how to prepare for photo shoots. If you’re in fashion, selling clothing, you can create styling content to help people get ideas on how to wear your clothes. For me, I create content on marketing and web design to help people improve their sites and get more traffic and results from the sites. There’s valuable expertise that you have to offer your audience, no matter the field. And remember, things that you think are “basic knowledge” are usually new and interesting to people who aren’t immersed in your area—so don’t discredit yourself for what you know.
Plan your content topics for each week in advance to hit your goal of 1 or 2 posts a week. You can do a “batch day” where you write out all the content and schedule it in your blog in advance or you record it in advance, so you can simply post it throughout the month. And easy way to do it is to think, what am I trying to teach in this post? And what steps or tips are needed to effectively teach it? That’ll help you develop an outline. Outlines make it easy to fill in the blanks and before you know it, you have a blog post or a transcript for your video or podcast!
4. Create an Instagram engagement plan.
Instagram does require a bit of manual work to make it successful, but with a plan, you can simplify it. My personal Instagram plan is to post 4-5 times a week. I don’t have time to gather photography to post every day and definitely not multiple times a day. Plus with the algorithm now, you can spam people when you post multiple times a day. But anyway, 4-5 times a week gives me a realistic goal that I can stick to. That turns out to be 16 to 20 posts a month. That’s it. Keeping it simple!
I organize my images in advance in an app called Preview to make sure they’ll look good in my grid and I categorize the photos—I have categories like, photos of me, places/travel, food, my work in albums on my phone. That way, I’m not guessing what to post each time and it helps keep my feed consistent, so it’s not all over the place.
When I can, I also write captions in advance to copy and paste those. You can use captions to teach something to your audience, to inspire them, or just to entertain. Your captions shouldn’t be only telling your audience to buy or book you all the time. I mix those in, maybe once a week. I have my hashtags saved in a notes app on my phone to copy and paste those, too.
And for better engagement, I set aside 30 minutes to an hour to engage with my followers, those I'm following, and people who are posting under the hashtags I’m using. I like their posts and leave genuine comments. By doing that, I see much better engagement. It’s a slow game, so don’t look for results overnight with this. But know that when you do it consistently, you’ll start to build community on Instagram, you’ll get more engagement on your posts, and it can even lead to more inquiries/product purchases.
I try to limit my time on social media outside of that so I don’t feel like I’ve been on my phone all day. For me, too much social media consumption is draining. So most of the day, I’m working and I have “IG hour” listed as a work to-do list item for me to post my pic and engage at the end of the work day.
5. Get email addresses and actually USE them.
And finally, everyone preaches about the email list, but it really does convert way better than only using social media. And it gives you the option to further the relationship with your audience. When someone gives you their email address, they’re giving you permission to contact them directly. This means, don’t get people’s emails from their IG bios and put them on your list and don’t put people on your list from networking events. If you want to put them on your list, at least email them and ask permission and if they don’t reply saying yes, don’t include them. Putting people on your list without their permission is a waste of time anyway because they’re going to unsubscribe, report you as spam, or never open your emails because they didn’t sign up.
The best way to grow your email list is by offering opt-in incentives or content upgrades. This means offering a valuable free guide that will be emailed to them as an instant download. This should be based around the top problem that your audience faces. Offer the guide on multiple places on your website, like in the banner on the homepage, maybe a pop up, the blog sidebar, the website footer. And you can even promote it on social media as a gift to your audience. By giving value, people are much more enticed, than if you just have those generic “join for updates” boxes on your website. You can also use these incentives for Facebook and Instagram ads.
Once you get emails, continue to build value and contact them at least once a week so they remember who you are and you can start to build trust. Offer them tips on your area of expertise or inspire them. And then subtly ask for the sale. You can even have a series of welcome emails scheduled to follow certain content upgrades. Maybe have one introducing you, another on a topic to educate the audience on a relevant topic, and a third email on another helpful topic. This is a great way to warm them up to you and you can include links to your services/shop page, while doing so.
Email has higher conversion because you’re reaching people directly and THEY signed up for it, so they want to hear more from you. And you own the email addresses, so no matter what a social network does, you can still get in touch with your minimum viable audience with no issues.
As you can see, none of this is really complicated, but it simply takes consistency and time to see success from it. With a little planning, consistency is definitely doable! Don’t get caught up in looking for outstanding results after a month or even after three months. The good part about this is that you can continue to get to know your audience, watch your statistics to see which topics are most popular and continue to give your audience what they want. You’re getting feedback from page views, video views, podcast plays. So if a certain topic is really flopping, while other topics are attracting more people, don’t be afraid to let go of the topic that isn’t working and embrace the ones that are.
Marketing online is all about being flexible and adjusting as you go! Take nothing personally. Just serve, give value, see what works, and then keep it moving!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will allow me to receive commissions for items purchased.