If you have any number of fans, followers, or family members centered around the work that you create, you have a community. What too few creators realize, however, is that they need to nurture and engage with that community to keep it healthy. This, my friends, is a little thing called community management.
Not sure where to get started? You’re in the right place! I’ve laid out some simple steps to get you well on your way to a thriving community.
Do you know where your fans regularly convene? Are there any online groups already centered around your work? Which social networks do you use to promote yourself?
Most creators have a website, a Youtube/Vimeo account, a Patreon page, and various social network. On top of that, there may be additional forums and groups you or your fans started. Do a google search for your name and see what comes up. Chances are, there are people talking about you on corners of the internet you had no idea existed.
Make a list of every single place you know your fans go, whether online or offline.
Now that you have an idea of where your fans are, you’ll need to come up with a plan that will help you focus on engaging with the most impactful areas of your community. A well thought-out strategy will allow you to spend more time creating and less time down a rabbit hole of Youtube comments.
Take a moment to consider your biggest objective with your community. Are you hoping to increase the number of followers you have? Generate sales? Become a thought leader in your creative space? Connect with your fans in person? Your answers here will help determine which community platforms will serve which objectives.
You’ll also want to consider what your fans may be searching for when they find you. Why did they decide to follow you? What are they hoping to get out of being you fan/follower/patron?
Now take the list that you created earlier and set some content and engagement goals specific to each place your fans go. Consider the reach of each location as well as the type of content that might do best on it. For example, Twitter is great for resharing content your fans might find useful while Instagram is better suited for sharing photo updates about your process.
Be as specific and measurable as possible here. You’ll want to be able to look back in a few months and determine whether or not your efforts were worthwhile.
Your fans want to know that you hear them and the slightest acknowledgement will make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Whether it’s a facebook “like,” a retweet, a video shoutout or a response to a comment they left on one of your posts, even the smallest gesture will have a big impact on your community.
If you want to see what people are saying about you outside of the places you frequent, check out a social listening tool (we use Mention at Patreon) to keep a pulse on when people mention you across all stretches of the internet. You can additionally set up alerts for when people are talking about something your fans might be interested in, which is a great way to gather content ideas.
Welcome your new fans and reward the ones who have been with you awhile. If you have a fan club or forum, consider setting up some sort of gamification that entices your fans to engage more to earn cool digital badges or swag.
Have an email list? Offer your fans a unique piece of content when they sign up. I can guarantee you that they’ll feel more compelled to click that “subscribe” button if there’s an exclusive track off your new album on the other side of it.
You will come to find that providing your fans with something that is useful and relevant to them will grow your community a lot faster than simply promoting your work across all of your social networks.