8 Simple ways to grow your tribe
Building relationships with your audience is not only beneficial, it's downright necessary if you want your business to succeed. I'm yet to meet anyone who wants to do everything themselves and doesn't give two hoots about what their audience or clients want. It's a ridiculous concept that would doom you for failure.
If you're not keen on that, here are some simple things you can do to build an active and engaged community that's unique to you.
1. Be human
Your business isn't a machine. It’s a hangout spot, a clubhouse, a place for people with similar interests to congregate (metaphorically speaking). As the leader, it’s your duty to facilitate connections with and among your people. If someone leaves a comment, respond. If someone replies to an email with a question, write back. Treat your people the same way you would any in-real-life connections - with kindness, respect, and diligence.
2. Write for easy reading
It’s hard to grow a community from your content if people aren't reading it. People who frequent blogs aren’t usually looking for long, wordy paragraphs or hard-to-relate-to jargon. They prefer shorter, easy-to-read sentences that are less formal and more personable. Break up your paragraphs into no more than 4-5 sentences and write your content the way you speak. Need help? Record yourself reciting a blog post idea you haven’t yet written. Speak how you normally do and then recite your words into a post. Observe anything you say that makes you say, “that’s so me!” and include it in your articles. Lastly, create descriptive, I-need-to-read-that titles. At best, people might see your post’s title floating around Twitter. Create titles so vivid and interesting that people can’t help but click them.
3. Include an option to subscribe
Seriously, so many people miss this step. Here's some real talk for ya though: If someone made it to the end of your article, chances are they dig what you’ve got to say. Make sure they won’t forget about you by including an opt-in form at the end of your posts (bonus points if you offer a content upgrade for subscribing as well!). At the very least, include social media buttons, with encouragement to follow you or to “say hey” on Twitter - anything that will keep your new audience around for the long haul.
4. Ask questions - and listen to the answers
The most important part of building a thriving tribe is knowing (and accepting) that it’s no longer about you, it’s about we. In order to create this communal structure, let your readers express who they are. This can be done in a number of ways, but the easiest is to just ask questions - and then genuinely listen to the responses. Ask questions at the end of your posts, prompting readers to share what they think. Ask questions on your Facebook page, so that readers can share a little more about who they are. Ask interesting questions on Twitter, allowing your followers to share their feedback. When people give you a piece of themselves and their perspective, they’re likely to build a more emotional connection with your brand, and will not only return to your site, but will share it with others, too.
5. Create amazing, valuable content - consistently.
Give your readers something they can depend on. Whether it's daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly, be consistent but focus on quality over quantity. Everyone I've ever met would prefer reading one amazing post per month than 30 crap ones. If your blog lacks commitment, it'll be hard for your audience to commit to you, too. On another note, create the most bangin’ content you can. The more value your blog adds to your readers’ lives, the more likely they are to sing your praises from the rooftops and bring their friends along for the ride.
6. Encourage people to stick around
Getting your kind of people to read your content is great, but getting them to stick around to read more posts or visit other parts of your website afterwards is better. Get people cozy and wanting to stay awhile using internal linking (i.e. linking to previous, relevant posts within a new post), displaying related posts, and including category buttons on your sidebar. Give your new readers a reason to stay.
7. Connect the dots
Your blog and social media accounts shouldn't be stand-alone things. Your people should be across all of them. If there's a gap and you're finding you have a different audience on your blog to your Instagram, connect the dots with something like an Instagram challenge. Find a way to mesh the two in a way that will be fun and engaging for your readers. If they love your blog and content, chances are they’d be interested in a way to hang around even more. Give that to them!
8. Contribute to other sites via guest posts
Guest posting on other websites is valuable because you open your website up to a slew of new readers. So long as you’re accomplishing most of the other points above, those new visitors will probably stick around and enjoy the incredible community you’ve built for them.