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personal branding

At the start of the year I listened to a fantastic podcast episode with James Wedmore on predictions and trends for 2020. In it James and his guests talked about how each year the barrier for entry to business is getting so much easier, but the flipside is the ability to reach your audience is becoming more difficult. As a result, we need to work so much harder today to cut through and connect with them.

We’ve been told over the last few years that a great way to connect with our audience is by constantly creating new content.  But James’ podcast commented that people don’t want more content.  Why?  Because we’ve all created SO much free content that people are now just feeling overwhelmed by it all.  There are too many things to read, see, do, and act on!

Instead of content, the prediction for 2020 is that we all need to be focussing more on personal engagement and in-person experiences with our audience – who really, we need to think of as our community.

And I couldn’t agree more.  Which is why my COMMUNITY has become my central focus for 2020.

The shift in marketing towards community over content means it’s all about people, and relating to each other by sharing stories and solving problems.

And it’s not just James Wedmore that thinks 2020 should be about community.  In an article by Social Media Today on 5 Habits for Successful Social Media Managers in 2020, at the top of the list is is Focus on Building a Community, not just an Audience. 

They say “Social media isn’t just about grabbing attention and growing an audience. It’s also about building an engaged online community.”

The difference between audience and community

So let’s be clear. What’s the difference between an audience and a community?

An audience is a person or persons who interact with you and your online content for the short-term. For example they may just ‘drop by’ on social media and make some random comments on a few of your posts. In contrast, your community is your dedicated tribe. They’re with you for the long-haul because you’ve built a genuine connection with them.

So how do we build a community out of our audience?  We do it by being present when online; listen to what people are saying, and respond. Create content for your community that they want (not just for the sake of it). They will engage and respond back and, before too long, you’ll have more people wanting to join your tribe.

I know what you’re thinking – in some instances or for some businesses it’s not always feasible to engage with everyone, and that’s true.  That’s where we can use automation tools (eg our CRMs and newsletters) to stay in touch.  But – just don’t make that the only way you stay in touch with them.  The real magic happens when you are able to connect with people one-on-one.  So even if you can only do this for a small portion of your time each day or each week, try to make sure you do.

How visual content can help build a community

Visual content is a great tool that we can all be using to build our community, perhaps even our best tool, because it evokes an emotional response in people. It’s without a doubt the best way to catch a user’s attention in a crowded online space.

This great article over at business2community discusses why The Way to a Customer’s Heart is through Visual Content.

Here’s a short summary of their tips on how visual content can be leveraged to support your marketing strategy:

  • Involve your audience by asking them to contribute to your content. Known as User Generated Content, it gives your feed a fresh feel. Remember to always credit the contributor to build trust.
  • Consistency is king next to content. It’ll help you build a strong brand that stands out in your market, and builds trust with your community
  • Use infographics to simplify information. Remember that people are overwhelmed with content, and infographics offer a solution for quick digestion and easy learning.
  • Create an emotional connection. There’s nothing like visual content to spark emotion! As far as we can tell the brain has a way of linking visual stimuli and emotional responses together, and this forms memories – and we want people to remember us when they interact with us online. Images also elicit a quicker emotional response than words, which makes it a more powerful medium.

Summary

So what are the takeaways from all of this?

As the barrier to market gets lower, the ‘noise’ in the marketplace is increasing. As a result, we need to find new and better ways to connect with potential customers.

We will achieve better connection with people if we think of them as our community, rather than our audience.

Speak WITH your community, not TO them. Engage with them on a more personal level and chances are they’ll stick around for the long-haul.

Don’t just push out content for the sake of it – give your community what they need and you’ll gain their loyalty and trust.

Use visual content as much as possible to build your community, it will spark an immediate emotional connection and help you be remembered.