Build a loyal following for your content
By Nicki Giles
The way to build a loyal following, and therefore a high-value audience, is to identifying people who might be interested in what you have to talk about. And by keeping your content fresh, you can find new ways to reach an ever-larger audience for your brand.
Easier said than done, I hear you say. There’s no denying that it takes creativity and hard work to build a loyal following. But it really boils down to knowing your selling points and what makes your followers tick. Here’s a few rules of thumb to help you create content that acts as rocket fuel for your brand.
Know your target audience
If you’re trying to sound like an expert on everything, be prepared for two realities. Firstly, you can’t be an expert on everything. Secondly, everyone knows it and nobody will be impressed by the pretence. People end up on websites, blogs and forums because they have a problem or an interest, and they’re hoping that destination might have answers and insights. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, the audience will spot that and move on.
So, to tap into your desired new audience and build a loyal following, find out who wants to know things you really are an expert on. If their needs match your strengths, there is a much greater chance of them turning from casual browsers into fans. Use software tools like Buzzsumo to find out which topics are trending and who is talking about them. They will also reveal where those people hang out and who influences them.
Once you’ve identified your ideal audience, it’s time to find out more precisely what they want and need to know about. This may be anything from how to clear their plug hole without chemicals, to the best route up Snowdon for small children or how to get likes on Facebook.
To do this, go where they go to scope out the competition. Keep an eye on comments, discussions and trending topics. Check which subjects take off and which fall flat. Most importantly, note down queries received by competitors that you are equipped to answer more fully.
Let’s face it, though - the thing about a niche audience is that it will be primarily interested in a small number of topics and products. If you cover the same subjects repeatedly, in the same way, your audience will drift off in search of more engaged experts. It’s time to give your content some kick.
Run-of-the-mill content won’t cut it
There are no end of ways to spice up a topic, though thinking outside the box does not mean changing your focus altogether. Say we’re talking about the family walk up Snowdon again – nobody wants another family-friendly route, as the presumption should be that you picked the best one last time. But how about road testing best-selling baby carriers or all-terrain prams on the way up? Or doing a feature on affordable spots to stay and eat nearby? Or the best backpack-hardy picnic foods and games to play on the way up? Now you’re talking.
Another way to refresh a topic is to get a totally new view on it – i.e. not yours. Keeping kid-friendly Snowdon as our main theme, ask yourself who could be an authority on the subject. I came up with four ideas: mums, mountaineers, Mountain Rescue, the Summit Visitor Centre.
So, a real mum – possibly one of your readers – could describe what it’s like to take a family up Snowdon and how to prepare for the trip. A local mountaineer could accompany you and show you what to look out for, while a Mountain Rescue representative could list the top 5 ways to help families have a comfortable and safe trip. Finally, the Summit Visitor Centre could suggest interesting historical trivia you can share with your kids on the way up.
In short, to build a loyal following you need to dig into your audience’s mindset and consider what they’d like to know and who might be able to provide that information. It’s also important to consider your timing. Barbecue recipes in mid-winter, even with an audience of culinary enthusiasts, are likely get a chilly reception and will not sell your cookbook.
Strike at the right time, in the right place
To give your content the best chance of reaching people it might interest, you need to keep your finger on the pulse of your area of expertise. Actively follow industry news sites and forums, as these will feature topics that will excite your readers, get your own brain whirring and possibly merit further investigation. If people are talking about the topic, they’re likely to be searching for it online too. Join the conversation and add hot keywords to your text to draw in new readers.
‘Trendjacking’ alone won’t help you to build a loyal following, though. You will need to contribute something unique to the discussion – a well-argued opinion, a fresh quote, an expert interview, an infographic or just a clear summary of both sides of the debate. Making your content unique means making it shareable.
Speaking of sharing… The quickest way of winning an audience for your content and turning them into buyers is to get topic leaders or influencers on board. You can quote them, tag them, include their hashtags or start a conversation referencing your piece on their forum. Even better, though, would be to enlist their help in creating the piece in the first place. What expertise do you have that they don’t but their audience could benefit from, and vice versa?
For example, if you’re working for a genealogy company and you’d like to tap into the audience of a prominent historical company, why not set up a joint event where your experts scrutinise their members’ photos for genealogical clues? It’s unlikely the society will be able to resist such an offer, as it adds value to their own offering. If both of you publicise the event on social media and share the session afterwards, both audiences will swell and you’ll likely sell more subscriptions.
Remember, to build a loyal following:
You need to know who you’re writing for if you hope to create appealing content
Well-written content isn’t enough, try to include something unique that nobody else will have, but don’t go completely off-piste
The very best content in the world, seen by nobody, will achieve and sell nothing; have a plan to promote it.
Need help creating compelling content for your target audience? Contact That Media Thing today to find out how our experts can add something extra to boost your site’s appeal.