6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Nowadays, most everything is about the platform you can build online. There are numerous reasons for this. For one, if you’re launching a new product, having a robust following is essentially a way of already having customers who are loyal to you right from the get-go, which can cut your advertising efforts in half.
Additionally, brands and other companies see a large following as dollar signs. Want a book deal? Grow an audience. Want a record deal? Grow an audience. Publishing houses, record labels and hundreds of companies that work with influencers on brand deals are always on the hunt for an online personality that can attract attention.
It can feel intimidating to start from the ground up — especially from zero followers when so many others have garnered audiences of thousands to millions of followers. But, remember that everyone starts from zero, and building an online personality can be as fun and fulfilling as it can be profitable. Capitalize on this rewarding new way of forging a name for yourself with the following tips.
1. Specialize in one mission statement
Followers want to know why they should follow you. Imagine this: You’re scrolling through TikTok and watch a video that really resonates with you — it has a motivational message. You immediately want more, so you check out the content creator’s page, only to realize that the video was pretty random. The creator’s other videos span from pet videos to humor videos to a random beach sunset. Do you have the incentive to follow? No.
Now, diversifying content is a great idea, but be sure to stand for something with your personality. This doesn’t have to be something too limiting, such as only making workout videos. But it also could be! Consider creating a brand persona for yourself … which should be easy and fun because you know your personality best! What do you stand for? How can you showcase your values, hard work and lifestyle online? The more cohesive this image is, the more likely you are to attract a larger audience.
2. Adapt to trends
In “meme” culture, certain trends go viral rapidly — and the visual “meme” trend has now expanded to include sounds on platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. This is a great opportunity to hop onto a trending sound (which can boost views) while putting your own twist on it. Jennifer Thayer built a TikTok audience of over 1.4 million and growing in just six months, and adapting to trends is her best piece of advice for anyone hoping to emulate her success.
“I first recognized which of my assets were my strengths, and capitalized on those with my content,” Thayer explained. “But, I learned very quickly how important it is to be adaptable in the entertainment industry. Today’s rage over short-form content is evidence of this … and even within TikTok, there are certain trends that have to be adapted to in order for you to grow.”
To adapt, simply keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on trend-wise by consuming more content. Scroll the For You Page with a notebook and pen and see what ideas come to mind based on what you’re seeing. A little research and adaptation can really pay off.
3. Show some vulnerability
It’s important to remember that social media is really a vehicle for humans to connect with humans. This is why vulnerability counts for so much. Your story can really help others — and it’s a breath of fresh air compared to the facade many put up on social media, showing off their “perfect lives.”
Personalities that garner the most trust, and therefore the most audience loyalty, are personalities who are okay with being vulnerable and sharing their lives. Think, for example, of reality TV shows. Although many argue that these shows are somewhat scripted, the fact that so many viewers become so deeply attached to these real personalities comes down to the fact that they’re showing the real behind-the-scenes of their lives on screen. This makes celebrities feel more like friends.
The more someone feels they “know” you, the more they’ll go to bat for you: buying your products, engaging with your content and recommending you to friends. And remember what Brene Brown says about vulnerability: “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
4. Respond to requests for types of content
Finally, be sure to engage with your audience as it starts to engage with you! You’ll find that as you continue to post, followers will make requests or ask questions. Use this as a guidepost and the ultimate “market research.” Plus, when you respond to the questions or requests, your followers will begin to feel closer to you.
This is why beginning to create content is really just starting out with a blueprint. As you go, and adapt to the changing trends, you’ll find your voice. Listen to what followers are saying — via their comments and messages, or through the types of content that gain the most response. Always be shifting your strategy. Over time, with a clear mission statement, vulnerability and adaptability, a loyal audience will continue to grow. And from there, the sky’s the limit for your business dreams.