One of the benefits of being a content creator is that, instead of trying to attract an audience, you can build your own community. Even though at first these two terms may seem interchangeable, there is a huge difference between them. While audiences are mainly impersonal, communities value the individual. In other words, while audiences are only interested in your product, building a community gives you the possibility to create a fan-based circle of people who trust you and value your knowledge.
This is a fundamental step for each entrepreneur as, according to Vanessa Lau: ‘It’s now the community that dictates whether a brand thrives or not.’ Lau is a multiple seven-figure business owner, helping thousands of content creators, coaches, and corporate escapees expand their reach, earn visibility, and get paid for their work. Here are her tips on how to build and maintain a community.
How can you build a community?
According to Vanessa, the best way of building a community is by co-creating content together. To do so, you need to have conversations with the members of your community and do market research and polls to understand what the people following you are interested in and work on the right content for them. Make sure to always keep them involved in the creation process and never ignore their feedback and comments.
Another important point is to focus on long-term content rather than merely publish short-term videos. This allows you to quickly build trust, especially compared to short-form content. “One person can read one long blog post or read one newsletter of mine and immediately know that I’m the right coach for them (…) Versus, it would take so many quote posts to get the same effect,” said Vanessa Lau.
Vanessa also stresses the importance of focusing on your unique perspective to distinguish yourself from other content creators. “How-To content can be replicated, but your unique perspective on your journey cannot be. Even if you feel you ‘aren’t there yet’, share the lessons you’ve learned from your mistakes. (..) Remember: If you want to be a thought leader, you can’t copy what everyone else is teaching, saying, or doing. You must bring new ideas and new ways of doing things to the table,” said Vanessa.
How to keep valuing clients as your business grow
Once you’ve built a community, you need to make sure to maintain it over time. While in the beginning, giving attention to each one of your clients can be relatively easy, this will become more and more challenging as your business grows.
We often tend to spend most of our resources on expanding our reach, but according to Vanessa, it is also important to invest money in your current community. Hire people to help with emails and DMs and increase the time and resources dedicated to maintaining a connection with all your clients.
Vanessa suggests treating “the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.” Do not only value people who have the potential to grow your business but treat each one of your community members with the same attention and care.
Another key skill to master is the ability to recognize and admit you have hurt someone and learn from your mistakes. When a member of our community or one of our employees comes to us with a complaint, our minds naturally get defensive trying to come up with thousands of reasons why we did nothing wrong. Even though this is a natural process, good leaders know how to take people’s complaints seriously, admit their faults, and learn from their mistakes. Mastering this skill will help your clients feel valued and listened to, a fundamental step into building a healthy and thriving community.
Last but not least, Vanessa suggests spending a few minutes every day to personally interact with your community. “I personally dedicate 30 minutes a day myself to respond back to my own DMs and check my inboxes. Yup – to this day, I still send voice notes to the few people I catch in my inbox!” said Vanessa. This has helped her maintain a healthy relationship with her clients and avoid turning her fan-based community into an impersonal audience.
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