Again and again, I hear from entrepreneurs and founders „we do not need marketing yet, we are still working on our product“. And later when they are nearing their launch or are trying to find their path to growth, what they are severely lacking is an audience, which they failed to build long before the launch.
One of the biggest misconceptions regarding social media I still meet over and over again is the belief that social media success can be switched by pushing a button and comes within days (or weeks). People still think of turning to social media marketing and the results coming with it as a decision and not a process and a long term commitment.
The need to build an audience
Social media marketing success comes with an audience, and you need to grow this audience over time, cater for and feed it with content and intelligence to build trust.
Social media marketing is great for young companies, and startups as the minimum investments you need to make are your time, creativity and intelligence – rather than money. But this comes at a price: You need to build an audience first, and that takes time.
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And the best time to start building an audience is the minute you decide to become an entrepreneur, to become a founder, start a company and will need to market a product or service some day in the (near) future. The sooner you start building your audience, the better, the more time you have to choose the right content, the right channels and voice, to try different processes and connect to your audience – and grow trust.
In social media, your marketing can start long before you have anything to sell. In social media marketing is 99% NOT about talking about your product. If you already build your audience while you are still working on your product, you can also use this audience to give you feedback on your plans and product early on. This way you can avoid building a product, which your potential customers would never buy. It can even go as far as starting to build an audience long before you ever know what your product is going to be.
And if you fail with your product, you still have your audience and can use it for your next venture.
Before you start growing an audience, make sure you know what your target group looks like and what they are interested in – otherwise, you may well end up with having an audience, just not an audience in your target market. If your targeting is amiss, your audience will not be of value and not give you the results you were looking for.
Here are some ideas for you to build an audience, before you have your product – or if you do not have a product at all.
1. Grow a Social Audience
Growing a social audience does not depend on having anything to sell at all. Growing a social audience is about providing compelling content and value on your social accounts and knowing how to spread the word. While your own content will help with growing a social audience, it is not mandatory. You can totally legitimately use other peoples’ content and curate it for your social channels.
In addition to sharing valuable content that is of interest to your target audience, you should join conversations in your niche and build relationships with influencers and role models. Be active, accessible and of value to your target audience.
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2. Grow an Email list
You can do much more than set up a landing page for your future product and include a signup form for people who are eagerly awaiting the release of the product. The number of signups such a landing page generates is usually inconsequential – if you do not actively hunt for more email addresses.
Still, you can grow an Email list long before you have a product. There are several ways to do that. One of the most commonly used ways is to offer a Freebie like a whitepaper, an explanatory document or a how- to-illustration of a general problem from your niche – in exchange for an email signup.
Learn the processes many social media influencers used to grow their audience and get reliable traffic from social media with “The Social Traffic Code!”
3. Use other peoples’ audiences
And brand yourself as a knowledgeable person in your niche. Guest blogging is a good way to do that. By writing articles for established blogs from your target niche, you can get yourself in front of an already existing audience. You can also mention the product you are working on in the author bio and create some buzz while you are still developing your product.
4. Start a blog (and content marketing)
No, your blog is not only a place to talk about your product, but it is also a place to offer value to your target audience. If you are creating a product, you should be an expert for the niche you are tackling. Create content with the insight and knowledge you have and publish this content on your blog.
While other peoples’ content can help you grow an audience, your own content can establish you as an expert, as a helpful and valuable person. Branding yourself will help you gain interest in everything you do including releasing a new product.
5. Connect to influencers from your target market
By connecting to influencers from your niche, some of their shine can rub off on you.
The best way to connect is always in person. Networking events are a great place to start. But there are many more ways to do so, that do not require you and your influencers to be in the same town or country.
Why not interview some influencers for your blog? Or ask them for short statements to a current hot topic from your niche and make a compilation of different influencer opinions.
Most influencers are still honored to answer interview questions. With interviews, you acknowledge their influence – and can establish a first connection. And at the same time you get valuable and unique content for your blog.
6. Combine all of the above
The best results and the fastest-growing audience, you will see if you connect the dots between the methods mentioned above to build an audience:
- Use the author bio of your guest posts to mention your freebie for email list building
- Share the interviews with influencers on your social channels and mention the influencers’ Social Media accounts – they are likely going to share your content
- Ask influencers you already interviewed if they would be interested in a guest post by you
- Use your blog posts on your social channels, this will help you grow the channels and grow an audience for your blog
- Send out blog posts to your email subscribers, if your content is useful they will like it
- Mention your social channels in your Email signature
And all the time while building your audience, you can go to them for feedback on your product development, some of them might be willing to test it beforehand. And when your product is finally ready for launch, you not only have an audience you can tell about your product. Also, your audience already knows who you are, and if you did the audience building right, they will trust you much more, as if they would have heard from you for the first time.
There is also a new way to build an audience that was not on my radar when I wrote this article: Website Push Notifications.
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