Over the years I’ve had conversations around the same question many times. With friends and clients, on a hangout with Jason Wiser, and in the 30 Day Online Visibility Challenge program … how do I start building my platform, a.k.a. audience?
Platform, audience, tribe, community, followers… without them, it’s nearly impossible to stand out and get your message heard. Committing the time and effort to building your platform increases your visibility…guaranteed.
Visibility = Opportunity
Or as Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, says:
You may have specific outcomes in mind for your work, and I urge you to be open to opportunities you never dreamed of that can also occur as a result to having more visibility.
Where Do You Start?
Let’s assume you’ve done the pre-work and figured out the big picture of what you want to accomplish with your business (or book, app, film, product, service, cause). You’re clear on your core message. You’ve done your research and know the demographics of the audience you want find and connect with, and your goal is to build a platform so when the time is right, you have an audience of loyal fans who want what you’re offering… your book, app, film, product, service, cause, etc.
Before you start running around searching for your fans, you need to put your foundation in place. You may have much of this done already. If so, then make sure each element is up to date and optimized to tell your story and convert prospects to leads to buyers.
If you don’t have your foundation in place, start here (click through to access live links in the image below).
As you can see from what’s necessary to have in place, there are many steps to getting ready to receive your fans. I don’t mean to gloss over the work required, but for the purposes of this article, I’m focusing on the external parts of your platform that need to be built vs. foundational pieces you must have in place if you’re doing any type of business on the Web.
Pick Your Social Networks
Your foundation – home base – is ready for visitors. Now, it’s time to get in front of the people you want to attract. Rather than diluting your efforts, pick a maximum of two social networks to focus your time and energy, at least in the beginning. Realistically, your audience is concentrated on just a few of the networks anyway, especially if your “thing” is focused on a specific niche.
For an example of how I might guide a client at this point, let’s take a look at my friend who is a filmmaker. While he’s made films in a couple of genres, his passion is science fiction.
To find people who love sci-fi, he’ll head over to Facebook, first and search for groups and pages with lots of sci-fi fans. Let’s start with a wide search on the term “science fiction” to see what comes up. Then we can drill down.
What comes up is a page with over 2,000,000 Likes, so we know there’s an audience on Facebook!
As you scroll down the page, you see a list of your friends who like sci-fi as well as a list of related Pages and Groups. That’s where you’ll want to dig in.
Depending on my friend’s sci-fi niche, I’d advise him to check out some of the Pages and Like them. For example, if he wants to start connecting with the 1.2 million fans of the Syfy page, then he would also like the page and make sure he’s getting notifications about new posts.
The tactic then would be to Like and comment on posts, and to share content to his own profile or page. Why? Because he wants to establish himself as knowledgeable about science fiction TV, movies and probably literature as well. By sharing those interests and sources of great sci-fi content, my friend’s followers will begin to see his as the go-to guy for all things sci-fi.
My recommendation is to find 4-5 Pages with big followings and start paying attention and engaging on those pages. The more active you are, the more visibility you’ll be building.
In the meantime, in addition to curating content from other sources, he’ll be posting his own content on his own page. And, this is where many people get overwhelmed…what to post???
What to Post on Your Facebook Page
Be mindful of only posting content about your own thing. Naturally, you want people to know about your (thing) and you need to remind them of its existence from time to time, but not all the time.
What’s a filmmaker to do? Let’s brainstorm a bit about topics he could post about to build rapport and engagement with his fans…
- Ask questions
- what’s your favorite sci-fi film (book, TV show, author, filmmaker)
- who’s your favorite character?
- which feature film do you want to see win the Best Picture Oscar?
- if you could make a sci-fi movie, what would it be about?
- Post quotes from well-known, or obscure, movies. Ask your fans to guess.
- Mention your film from time to time
- What are you working on right now?
- When do you anticipate its release?
- What are the struggles you face getting it made?
- Who stars in the film?
- Why are you making the film?
- How did you choose your subject?
- Where is it showing?
- Who wrote the screenplay?
- Where can fans see it?
- How does it relate to your other work?
You get the idea. You can’t stop there, though. Don’t drop a post and then disappear. Social is about building relationships with your audience. Make sure you respond and interact with the people who comment. When a fan asks or answers a question, acknowledge it.
Schedule 30 minutes a day to post and engage. It’s not much to ask if you expect people to make a financial commitment to your (film, book, product, etc.). Your fans and followers are looking for connection and acknowledgment. They want to be seen and heard, as much as you want them to see and hear your message.
And that’s where you can start with Facebook. What’s next?
Where else do sci-fi fans hang out? I’d check for communities on Google+, next, and repeat the Facebook tactics to start finding and engaging with folks.
Finally, I’d suggest doing a few hashtag/keyword searches on Twitter to see what kind of conversations people are having on the topic. Start following people who are actively talking about sci-fi and again, comment and retweet their content.
The steps above create the first stages of your platform. I understand it can feel overwhelming. I get it. There are a lot of things you can do to create more visibility. However, if you start with small steps as outlined above, work them consistently for a few months to see what kind of response you get, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
Schedule 30 minutes a day. That’s all. If you work five days a week on your visibility plan, that’s a mere two and half hours a week to build your audience. Start small and work up to more time and/or layering on more social sites.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
I know you are passionate about your art and business. It is your gift to the world and there are people who want what it is you create. They yearn for your message.
Start small and focus on building layer by layer. There will be time down the road for you to add other forms of rich media to your visibility plan. You don’t need to do it all at once.
- Pick two social sites to start building your fanbase.
- Find pages, groups, communities and people to connect within your niche on those sites.
- Decide what type of content you enjoy creating the most (text, video, audio, images). Pick 1-2 forms of content to focus your energy on that don’t drain you. Keep it simple.
- Post and engage 30 minutes a day.
Sharing your message and art with the world often becomes your life’s work. Giving up is not an option. Take it one step at a time and you’ll get there.
Commit to doing these steps for 90 days and let me know what happens, OK? If you’re feeling bold, declare your intention to a 90-day commitment in the comments!
If you would like to discuss the specifics steps for building your foundation and online platform, let’s talk and discuss a specific plan based on where you are now, where you want to be and how you’ll get there.
*I originally read about the Zulu greeting on Chris Brogan’s blog.