One of the hardest things once you’ve created a website is not to maintain it but to build a following and a fan base. Obviously coming up with a unique idea for your site in the first place is a long process but when you’ve got past that initial hurdle you’ll begin the quest of trying to build up your name.
Who are your fans?
You need to take a step back and analyse who you’re chasing. If you don’t do this research I don’t think you’ll fully be able to grow your fan base properly. Split them into groups, stick with 3-4 as these will be your strongest target audiences. So if you were promoting a music site, you’d perhaps circle – artists, producers and avid listeners of a particular music genre.
Where can you find fans?
Well wouldn’t you just know it – simply owning a website and posting a few times isn’t enough to gain a fan base. You can’t just make a site and expect the crowds of visitors come to you. In the early days you’ll need to actively find and bring people to your site. To do this you’ll need to expand socially and Twitter is a must for any new site owner. Brand up your Twitter account, spend the time creating a background, cover image and profile picture as well as your theme colours. Inserting your websites link is a huge priority as well as including industry keywords in your bio. It’s worth spending time on this as it’s one of your most potent tools to build your fan base.
How do you use Twitter to build a fan base? well regular Tweets are a good start. Tools like Hootsuite will enable you to schedule content throughout the week. Twitterfeed should be set up so that any content that you publish goes straight out to your social channel. Why? it’s quick, simple and efficient. Not only that, it will help your blog posts get indexed much quicker and deliver more exposure.
Create Twitter lists of key industry contacts that you’d like to regularly alert with your new content. This will save you time and will make sure you’re always keeping in touch with your core fan base (something I covered in a recent post).
Build up a list of key industry hashtags and have them on speed-dial. This will increase the reach of your content (try using hashtagify).
Finally, keep a day or two in your calendar each month for you to explore Twitter, engage with fans and let people know you’re out there.
What content will my fans want?
It’s so important to ask yourself this. Simply writing content without thinking won’t build a fan base. You need to analyse what topics your fans are interested in. How do you go about doing this? Well one way is to read other industry news sites to see what popular topics are being covered, searching Google News topics around your industry will also help – you might find setting up Google alerts for content ideas useful but in my experience these aren’t really worth the hassle.
Next step is for you to have a delve into Google analytics. View what keywords your audience is typing to find your site, perhaps in the early days you won’t get much clarity from this but as your site gets older, believe me this is a powerful tool for coming up with content ideas. Also checking the searches you get from users who utilise the search bar on your site can deliver some good ideas.
How about making use of Hootsuites search queries? If you explore a little bit you’ll find search queries to monitor industry related questions. All you need to do is insert your key terms followed by a ‘?’ Each day log-in and try to find any questions that you could turn into posts. By using the ‘From:’ query you’ll be able to monitor competitors to see what they’re writing about which will help you make sure you’re always on top of key industry topics, allowing you to spot gaps in what others have missed.
Google’s keyword tool can also help you find some high volume industry keywords as well as a few questions that you can consider answering.
Finally, if you’re looking for specific individuals then tools like followerwonk and wefollow will allow you to find and engage with fans via keywords in their bios and you can even refine your search to a specific location.
Now, let’s move on and talk about another stumbling block. So, you’ve just done the research on some content ideas but how do you present it to your fans? Do you just write a blog post? What should it look like and is writing blog posts the only way to grab your fans attention?
Content Format Ideas
So why type of posts work? well top 10’s they’re great aren’t they? why? because they’re concise and they keep you on tender hooks until you get to that number 1 point. There’s also a point of discussion – do your fans agree with that number point? Comments away!
Certain points of the year are also worth considering. Public holidays and events like Christmas and Valentines can be big hits for certain industries. The end/ start of the new year can be the perfect time for summary posts such as the top 10 most popular articles on your site that year. These are great as you’ve already written the content throughout the year and all you need to do is package it all up for your fans – this will raise the popularity of your previously written content and hopefully bring an increase in your site traffic.
When you’ve had a popular post, revisit it say 6 months down the line to see if anything has changed. That way you’ll re-capture your audiences interest with brand new information on a topic that they want to stay up to date with.
Surveys can be an interesting way of gaining insights into what your fans think which can later be developed into a post. There’s many way you can go about creating a survey. Try using Tweet Poll and if that doesn’t meet your needs, sites like survey gizmo, survey monkey and toluna will enable you to create polls which are great material for discussion points.
Is Blogging The Only Way?
Of course it’s not.
Ebooks, podcasts, infographics, animated graphics, games, memes… the list goes on. Your site certainly needs regular written content to improve authority and achieve ranking positions in search engines but you shouldn’t be confined to just this. Moreover, your site needs that ‘feature’ piece on a regular basis – this can take the form of a podcast for example where you cover the latest industry trends and questions, but this has to be a regular theme. No matter how busy you are, this feature piece must go out every month on time without fail. If not, you’ll never be able to fully capture a regular audience if you can’t deliver on your side of the bargain. Block out a day or two in your calendar for this premium content to make sure it gets done.
Keep up with your social activity as this will always keep your fans and traffic ticking over – if you stop, it’s a certainty that your visits will drop.
I feel if you your’e new to being a site owner these tips can really help you build up a fan base fast.