I was recently asked a question which inspired me. How do you grow a community of engaged individuals who care and support the product, service or content you are creating? Below was my answer on how I tried to do it
Write with the authentic intention of giving something of absolute value to the reader without any expectation of getting anything in return.
Viewers and consumer of your product or service can see through insincerity immediately, so the most efficient way to deliver upon that is to remove all ego from the content you are creating and understand exactly what it is that your reader wants to get out of spending the time to consume what you produce. That can take time to develop both the voice that you use to convey the information and identify exactly what it is your audience wants.
The next piece of advice seems juxtaposed to the above but it’s not
If you are beginning to write, don’t constrain yourself to a specific audience niche. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to have a very specific goal in mind, it suggests that you have to be confident and comfortable enough to write something that nobody in the world might care about. By removing any expectation that your content will resonate widely you can focus on creating content that has deep meaning to you.
There is an intrinsic desire to derive pride or meaning from the value others put into the things that we produce — fight that with everything you have in you.
For me, there is an inverse correlation between the things I write with the intention that it gets a lot of engagement and the things I write about simply because I am fascinated and I don’t care what other people think. The latter is far more popular than the former. It’s almost impossible to create something and accurately predict that it will hit the mark. It’s far better to create something you love, that has value to you even if it gains no traction.
It’s hard for your audience to engage if they don’t know when to expect your content. This can even be subconscious. There’s a really old piece of writing which effectively argues that people don’t become familiar with your brand/product/content until they notice it organically 20+ times. That is a lot and indicates the challenge we are up against. Above 20 times, there is opportunity. Unconsciously people begin to expect your content every day/week/month if they become accustomed to finding it at that time.
Find 10 people who love your product not 1,000 people who think it’s ok
Once you have that initial ‘focus group’ they will willingly act to accentuate the message you share. That enables you to multiply your influence by significantly increasing the reach of your message. This is key. For anything to succeed online you require some level of virality — word of mouth which inspires others to consume your product, service or content.
Focus on accounts who do similar things to which you hope to achieve and follow their followers. Engage with the people engaging with their content in the comments. Become a key person of influence within that niche vertical as it that helps you become a recognizable name in that area.
Repurpose content across all platforms. Leverage tweet storms and transform them into blog posts on medium. Cut blog posts up into tweets. Share thought pieces on LinkedIn. Reach out to people in the industries your obsessing over and tell them what they love about your content and ask for their help very specifically. Cold emails work if they are thoughtful, specific and short.
That was literally what led me to receive angel investment from the founder of a unicorn startup.
Be obsessed with great — normal people can’t compete with obsession. The value of you doing almost anything competently is inversely proportional to the number of people not willing or able to. Leverage that. Do things others won’t in order to leverage your time and energy to achieve things that shift the needle. Find the things that take 20% of the time to return 80%. Ruthlessly analyse your performance and cut out the things that are waste.
There’s a famous axiom about quality and quantity. The general consensus is that the people who create the highest quality content are the people who resonate most widely — less is more.
In my experience, this is complete bullshit
We can never guarantee absolute quality if we don’t create quantity. Being prolific is a far quicker path to greatness. Let’s assume everyone is equally capable of producing greatness. The reason Picasso became world famous while your local artist producing awesome paintings in obscurity is that Pablo created 100X more paintings. if we assume even a 1% hit rate on the greatness of the things that we produce, producing 100X more gives us 100X more chance to be successful. Clearly, there are points of diminishing return — the point is if you create 100X more content of equal quality to someone doing the same at a far lower quantity.
What is your unique insight? What can you give the audience that nobody else in the world can? Is there something you have achieved which would provide tremendous value to a huge number of people — if so, share it!
Learn the value of the unique experience you have had in the world.
You are the only person in history with your exact experience, competences, and areas of expertise. Find out how leveraging a massive platform while applying what you know to alternative areas could work.
Engage with people and offer help. Be open to opportunity and let it find you.