Every time, without fail, the #1 question is:
How do I find my people? Where are they?
It's not like there's a convenient store around the corner. Most of the time, it feels like your people are hiding or disappearing every time you attempt to promote something. Unless it's a freebie and it's actually going to help them be awesomer.
Don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of it today. Luckily, my new course - From Fans to Friends - has an entire module about finding your people and engaging them online. So today, I'm going to pluck some content from there and give it to you here.
By the end of this article, you'll feel more positive about this impossible task.
1. WHO are your people?
This is a tough one, even for me sometimes. It's all about your message.
Your brand message attracts specific people. In my case, it's solopreneurs and multipassionates, who have a rebellious streak to them. In your case it can be DIY and crafty people who like cats, or nomads and travel writers who make money in original ways. You see, it's two-fold: what you put out there and what people resonate with.
Most of the time, you'll attract people who want to get where you are in the near future or people who had the same struggles you did a couple of years ago. They're attracted to your "solutions" and "outcomes". So be very careful what solutions and outcomes you write about and talk about, because those will be the things you'll be known for.
Your strategy needs to be two things - focused and consistent, in order to work. If it's not focused, you'll attract scattered traffic and a lot of numbers, but not necessarily interested clients or engaged fans. And if it's not consistent, people will forget.
Finally, there's a very nifty guide by Mariah Coz, which helps you narrow down your niche. It's only $10 and it's really actionable and thought-provoking. If you're a multipassionate like me, you might need a guide like that to give you direction.
2. Where do YOU want to be?
There's a slippery slope with business and marketing. Basically, when you listen to the experts, it sounds like they either want you to be everywhere or they want you to be where your people are. Before you know it, you're trying to do too many things, not getting results, and you're miserable. But here's the thing: Your people are everywhere.
Everybody's on facebook and twitter. Everybody's joining Instagram and Periscope. If you're looking for someone specific, chances are, you'll find them on the platform you use most often. Perhaps the only exception is Pinterest, which is still mostly female-centric.
I want you to entertain a thought: If your people can be anywhere, why are you trying to be everywhere? And why are you using platforms you don't even like?
I've been there. The pressure to find these people and drag them into your world is HUGE. It feels like one platform is not enough and that you have to go where these people are. If you're working with visual women, you have to be on Pinterest and Instagram.
Instead think about where you WANT TO BE. In my case, the answer was clear from the start - twitter. And let me tell ya, when you love something and learn to use it to the max, you no longer have to "find" people because they start coming to you.
3. The channel you're forgetting.
A little bit of a disclaimer here. When someone says "find your tribe", you usually think of social media, right? But there's something you might have forgotten: people can be found in communities, too. Slack communities, facebook groups, forums, and so on.
For example, when I was working with startups, I used to throw myself in every cool community I could find. While social media is OK for self-promotion and quick engagement, communities are all about forming relationships. Social media is too noisy and crowded for that, so your best bet at actually making some friends is to join a community. So ask yourself: Which communities would my people join?
Communities are a great way to get feedback, find clients, and make friends. Without friends on the Internet, you'll be lacking the amazing support and collaboration that comes with professional relationships. Your business doesn't only need "fans", but it also needs people who share your message and who have similar struggles.
Finally, your business needs you to be KNOWN in your industry, and the only way you can achieve this is to network. And don't give me the whole "I'm shy and introverted" speech. I'm not asking you to go in the middle of a room and tell everyone a joke. I'm asking you to talk to people - one-on-one. I'm pretty sure that's easier.
4. A specific strategy.
Hopefully, now you're clearer about WHO your people are and WHERE you want to be. The next step is developing a very specific strategy of finding them on your chosen platform (or platforms, but make sure it's not more than two at the start).
I'll give you an example from my own twitter strategy:
1. I follow targeted people.
Obviously, you don't have to follow the world. I only do it because it works for me, I'm friendly, and I don't care about appearances. The whole 1:3 following:followers ratio is silly, and yes, my methods will put some people off, but so what? Like I remind my fellow solopreneurs: you don't want to attract everyone, but just YOUR PEOPLE.
Here's a quote from Dr. Seuss that rings true in life and in business:
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
As for how I find those targeted people to follow, it's my little secret which I share only with my clients and subscribers. You can sign up here to find out what it is.
2. I tweet very specific content.
Apart from following a ton of people, I tweet selected content.
- Content that resonates with my core message
- Content that promotes my fellow solopreneurs
- Content that promotes my own message
- Content that is personal and kind of silly
That's my personal strategy. Yours can be different.
The first point is the most important one because if you tweet anything, then your people will be confused and you'll never be seen as an expert in your industry. The second point is my personal preference because I have found that a helpful atmosphere creates the sense of community. The third point you can't ignore. If you're worried about self-promotion, just promote your freebies and blog posts; people really need those.
Finally, the personal touch is necessary. I'll tell you why in my next blog post.
3. I make lists of people.
Now we come to the only way I can survive on twitter: twitter lists.
On twitter it's all about engagement. But you can't just engage with anybody and it can be noisy sometimes (especially if you follow 27K people). This is why I render the power of TWITTER LISTS. I have lists for my peers, influencers in my industry, people who are awesome and engage with me, potential target audience, and so on.
The point here is to follow what's going on in your industry and support your fellow peers. And I'm not talking about your direct competitors. Chances are, if your message is specific to you, nobody will be doing the exact same thing. That eliminates a worry.
Instead of competing, try collaborating. It's liberating!
What's your social strategy?
Maybe your platform of choice is not twitter. Maybe you prefer facebook groups or Pinterest boards. Maybe you're a photographic genius and Instagram suits you better. Whatever you choose, I'm certain that you'll find your people there. :)