Building a Fanbase of Followers in 10 Minutes a Day

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on October 10, 2010 in: Social Media Marketing, Tips in 10

As business owners, you want to generate an audience of interested people so that you position yourself in front of them as an expert… and hopefully some of them will buy. Okay, that’s Business 201 (since Business 101 is probably “sell something for more than you bought it for”).

Sometimes that audience is made up of loyal visitors to your blog. They’ve bookmarked your blog and they visit everyday or read your RSS feed to see what you have to say. Sometimes that audience is made up of newsletter subscribers: They’ve left their email address in the hopes that you send them high value content on a regular basis.

There are plenty of tools and resources to help you create the infrastructure to communicate with that audience, whether through blogs or newsletters (or many other ways). In fact, in previous Tips In Ten articles, we’ve talked about those very things: I’ve shown you how to create regular blog content. And, I’ve shown you different autoresponder tools you can use to upload content and distribute it to your audience.

But the question is often asked: How do I get an audience?

You might have great information on your website. And you might have the audience-capturing and audience-communicating infrastructure already set up. But you need eyeballs! You need email addresses. You need people reading your content and thinking about you as the expert.

So how do you get that audience?

Well, as you can tell by the title of this issue, I think you need more than an audience. I think you need a fanbase. I’ve seen people generate an audience: I’m sure we’ve all received email and snail mail that seemed unsolicited and turned out that our email address or postal address were sold to someone. In other words, we were an audience but an unwilling one.

I think you need a fanbase: Where every audience member (whether they click to your blog or they read your content in an RSS feeder or they see your newsletter in their inbox) is a fan. Someone who has sought you out.

These fans are the most loyal of audiences because they appreciate what you have to say and they respond with purchases or referrals.

So, how can you create a fanbase in 10 minutes a day? It IS possible. And before I tell you, I want to reference someone who has a similar idea: Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’ve never heard of him, I’ll give you a short bio: Gary Vaynerchuk owned a wine store in New Jersey. He wanted to build his brand so he started creating video blogs showing his unconventional wine tasting. They are compelling, and if you ever get a chance to view one or two, you should. You can see them at http://tv.winelibrary.com.

Using a very similar method to what I’m about to describe here, he built up his reputation and now is a noted author, speaker, and a go-to authority on branding and on wine.

To build up a fanbase, here’s what you do:

First, find relevant sites. Relevant sites include blogs, forums, Facebook fan pages, and Twitter accounts that are somehow connected to your business or industry. So, for example, when I do this, I would look for blogs, forums, fan pages, or twitter users who were in the small business, entrepreneur, coach, and freelancer segments. When Gary Vaynerchuk does this, he looks for blogs, forums, and fan pages on wine.

Second, I would go there and leave comments, participate in discussion, follow, friend, tweet, talk, converse. I would say things that were relevant (and NOT self-promotional). For example, if I found a blog post that talked about productivity, I would comment with something like “that’s great. I’m going to implement that suggestion” or “you’re exactly right with your idea, I’ve been doing something similar for years” or “Thanks for the tip. I’d also recommend…”

Vaynerchuk says (in a video that I will link to shortly) that he would go to a Facebook fan page about merlot and comment with something like the name of his favorite merlot.

The idea here is not to blatantly self-promote but rather to engage the writer and his or her audience and participate with them. You can sign your name and leave your website address but don’t overload your comment with self-promoting content.

Third, I would repeat this process. I would do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the day after that. Ten minutes a day, each and every day. I would keep finding relevant sites and I would keep commenting and participating.

Here’s what will happen: Occasionally, someone will click on your link. They’ll read what you have to say. They’ll become a fan. Then someone else will do the same. And so on. Those occasional people will build up. Over time, you’ll pick up a following; a fanbase.

I love how Vaynerchuk says it in this video, so check it out for yourself: It takes 2 cents to GROW a wine show. (Note: I’m not sure why he’s filming this one from his bathroom, but the content is good even if the setting is weirdly irrelevant).

In one area where I don’t necessarily agree with Vaynerchuk is in the time this takes. He suggests hours. I think that’s a great idea but I don’t know many businesses where that kind of time is feasible to spend. Quite simply, we need to grow our business but we don’t have hours to spend doing what I’m about to describe. Unless you outsource some of it, you need to find the time to do it and I believe you can do it in ten minutes. Of course, if you have hours to accomplish what I and Vaynerchuk are suggesting, by all means spend the time. But if you only have ten minutes (as most of us do), then use those ten minutes wisely.

That’s it! That’s all you need to do. And it works. I can attest to its success and certainly the infamous Gary Vaynerchuk can as well. If you have hours to spend leaving your two cents on related sites around the web, then by all means do so. But if you are busy (as many of us are) and you only have ten minutes a day, start there. That should give you enough time to read and comment on 2 or 3 blogs or Facebook fan pages. And if you only do 2 a day from Monday to Friday, you’ll have commented on 10 by the end of the week and about 5,200 by the end of the year! That will have a big impact! If even 1% of those people become fans, that’s 52 more people by the end of the year.

A couple other things to note:

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few other important elements: I believe you need two other things here in order for this to be successful:

  • First, you need good content to drive people to. If you’re going to entice people to your site/blog/whatever, you need to deliver with good content. This might mean hiring a writer if you don’t have the time or skill to create the content yourself, or hiring an editor if you have the time to put something together but you don’t have the time to polish it.
  • Second, you need to have the infrastructure set up to “lock in” your fanbase. This might mean regular posts on your blog. Or, it might mean that you have some RSS functionality. Or it might mean that you have a subscription newsletter. Whatever you do to engage your audience, you need to be able to deliver on that engagement consistently.

Ten minutes a day for a fanbase? It IS possible. Start today and build your fanbase!

Heather Recommends:

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