Building a fan base starts from a niche and expands through connections, engagements and sharing. It takes work and dedication.
Few people know that better than brand strategist and marketer Nsimbi Joshua. He is passionate about growing brands and supporting the arts with music as his way of giving back.
“Do you ever wonder if you would be your own fan if the tables changed?” Joshua said. “Take time to discover, love what you do and be authentic every step of the way. Your audience can see through the noise. They will flee regardless of how convincing you are.”
In an Africa Tweet Chat, Joshua talked about creating and adding to a specialty group.
“A niche is when one attains a deeper understanding and positioning in a certain field or industry,” Joshua said. “Over time, you command respect and establish a reputation based on your outstanding traction.”
“Niche” is akin to common interests more than size.
“It’s more like finding a needle in sand,” Joshua said. “Even when it seems so large, you will find where you belong. That’s where you focus your energy, creativity and patience.
“Finding your niche can vary based on approach and personality,” he said, then using these niche-building steps:
- Base it on your passions and skills.
- Position yourself based on trends and what your competitors are up to.
- Test and pivot until you arrive at the desired combination.
Keeping your audience engaged with your posts is essential. Joshua said certain elements are essential:
- Know your why, and let it always be felt in your endeavors.
- Maintain a human element to your content. This allows your audience to relate.
- Make it fun to be your fan.
- Maximize the power of storytelling.
- Allow your audience to be a part. Mold your content by listening to their reactions and pivot. It’s a two-way street.
- Be consistent.
- Collaborate with others to introduce a blend of energy in your content.
- Reward your audience once in a while.
- Give credit and share perspective from other content creators.
- Explore various content formats like photos, GIFs and videos to create content dynamics.
Chatting up your business
Joshua contends that joining niche Twitter chats is an important aspect of building a brand.
“They are the best place to connect with like minds and build a community and follower base,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to learn from others, exchange insights and create a loyal community — a good way to boost brand exposure.
“Chats are arenas to cement your brand’s authority,” Joshua said. “They humanize your brand.”
Having a branded hashtag on Twitter can boost fan base growth.
“Hashtags are a great way to expand your reach outside your network, engage with your followers, open new ways of communicating and increase brand recognition and awareness,” Joshua said.
“It’s not a must to have a branded hashtag,” he said. “A brand must evaluate how it plays into their strategy. There are many hashtags a brand can ride on to get mileage. It comes down to the needs of the brand, but a branded hashtag is a key information identifier.”
Content is also valuable. That’s where a hashtag points to.
“Look at a hashtag a distribution method,” Joshua said. “The content is the product, and the hashtag is the van that transports it to the locations, which are the users. When blended well, it’s a great combination.”
Follow trains might be called a social media fad. Bloggers agree to follow one another on Twitter or elsewhere, sometimes with agreements to comment on blog posts. Joshua is not a fan.
“Follow trains offer poor quality communities,” he said. “Followers barely care about your brand and message, which renders your efforts to build a loyal community useless.”
Multiple wrongs don’t make right
Some people share posts with great content consistently, but they get few conversions.
“They’re all over the place,” Joshua said. “They create complex content and talk to the wrong audience. They post at the wrong times with little or no effort to humanize the brand. They’re inconsistent and don’t use relevant hashtags.
“Not surprisingly, they make little effort to engage with content from others,” he said. “They use poor quality media images and are monotonous. Little or no engagement with the few who react to their content causes others to stay away. Finally, they have bad positioning and distribution of content.”
Reputation is a key aspect to winning someone’s trust, which plays directly into them becoming a loyal fan.
“Establishing a good reputation makes it easy for others to be your fans,” Joshua said. “They spread the message for your work.”
He believes that diversification and specialization make a great team.
“I always pick depth over width, so I side with specialization,” Joshua said. “You can’t be a master at all things and have an informed and rich approach to everything. I set out to grow my core experience in areas I identify. Then I let secondary influences fit in to my core.”
In the debate about which is better — long- or short-form content — Joshua comes down firmly on the side of it depends.
“Every brand or business has its recipe that works,” he said. “Keep testing until you find that rhythm. When you build relevant content short or long that is evergreen, position it with the right hashtags. It’s a jackpot.