Alexis discusses effective strategies in audience development, the best channels to promote content and why quality over quantity matters.
For small businesses, growing an audience through content creation can be the biggest challenge. For Alexis Grant, it’s her job. Alexis is the founder and Innovator-in-Chief of Socialexis, a business that helps grow communities through content. The writer and digital strategist also has an impressive following of her own on her personal blog where she writes about the influence of technology on the world today. Since the former journalist has a lot of experience helping small businesses grow an audience organically through content, Scripted reached out to find out more about what she sees working — and not working — in audience development.
Scripted: Why is building an audience important?
Alexis: You really need a core of loyal readers/followers/fans/whatever you want to call them to succeed with most businesses. Those people will support you, help you spread your message and hopefully use or buy the services or products you offer. In short, that audience is your paycheck.
Scripted: What three key factors should a small business keep in mind when finding a valuable audience (one that will convert)?
Alexis: Quality over quantity; it’s much more effective to have a small community that’s highly engaged and will actually interact with you and your products than a large group of people who don’t open your emails.
Return rate: How can you keep readers returning to your site again and again? What can you offer that will make you and your site “sticky?”
Call-to-action: This has to do more with your own offer than your audience, but often businesses that have a quality audience don’t give them the chance to live up to their true potential because they don’t make their call to action clear. Make it super obvious what you want your community to do, how you want them to interact with your content — and make sure those objectives are in line with your bottom-line goals. For example, one great call-to-action is encouraging site visitors to sign onto your email list, so you can interact with them again and again.
Scripted: On that topic, should a small business only be focused on finding an audience that will convert? Or are there other communities in an audience a small business should be focused on? Like evangelists?
Alexis: As I mentioned above, quality counts more than quantity! So yes, evangelists will help you reach your goals and could be more worthwhile than hundreds of less-engaged followers.
Scripted: How long does it typically take a brand to find the right audience?
Alexis: We look to start gaining traction after about three months — it takes that long to coordinate all your content efforts (aka social, blogging, newsletter), start offering valuable information and get the beginning of a community on board with your message. To really grow a solid community, you’re likely looking at at least a year, unless your boots-on-the-ground efforts result in a lucky break that brings a lot of influential people into your circle all at once.
Scripted: What are specific ways a small business can find their audience, and grow it, organically?
Alexis: Offering free information that’s truly valuable and helpful to your target community is really the best way to get started. But even once you create that value, you’ve got to help people know about it. That’s why promotion is often even more important than creation — you need the eyes for people to realize just how great you are.
If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid go small, targeting individuals who might join your tribe. Adding one fan at a time will add up over time!
Scripted: What do you advise clients who want to promote their content?
Don’t try to be everywhere. Pick two or three social platforms that suit you and do them really well, rather than trying to grow a following on every channel.
Alexis Grant is an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist. her company, Socialexis, helps small businesses grow communities through blogging and social media. She blogs about careers and the new world of work at AlexisGrant.com.
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