Your audience numbers don’t mean a thing.
That’s right. The size of your audience doesn’t actually equate to how successful your blog, business or sales will be.
There are many bloggers who turn their 500-person audience into a full-time job. Then there are brands who have an audience of 100,000 people yet still suffer from low sales. Why?
Because the number of fans, followers and subscribers don’t paint the entire picture of the relationship between you (or your brand) and your audience. It’s the relationship that we’re after here.
How close your audience emotionally feels and connects with you or your brand is what determines the success and sales. The deeper the emotional connection, the higher the percentage of your audience will become true fans.
And here’s a super simple way to figure this emotional connection (or “engagement”) out with numbers:
Engagement = Number of likes/comments on a given post (divided by) Total number of followers on a given platform
In this formula, the engagement number is a percentage of your total audience being considered “true fans.” Depending on your platform (because engagement rates vary between social platforms, email list, etc), a 1% engagement rate is great, while other platforms it could be that you need to target a 15% engagement rate.
Note: Fake followers (or non-human robots) can be bought for $5 on eBay nowadays, please don’t do that. Those fake followers will artificially inflate your total audience number on that specific platform, causing your engagement rate percentage to actually decrease. If you’re a blogger and you ever want to monetize through advertisers or sponsorships, they look at your engagement rate to determine if working with you will be successful for their brand.
As of this publishing, and considering recent algorithm changes with social platforms, here’s some general guidelines/goals that you should be working towards with your engagement rates:
Instagram = 1-2%
YouTube = 5-10%
Email List (open rates or sales conversions) = 5-10%
Facebook = (I’m leaving Facebook out because their algorithm severely and artificially throttles organic reach, thus giving a natural unbias to engagement)
To give you an idea about the TERIMIYAHIRA brand engagement rates:
Instagram @terimiyahira = 1%
YouTube = 15%
Email List = 15-17%
I wanted to show you my personal brand’s current engagement rates to show that because they are higher than average, that this is the reason why my brand doesn’t need 100k-200k audience size in order to make the business work.
How to foster an engaged audience
If you are a blogger or brand who wants to build your audience engagement, here’s a few points to consider:
Always give. Give, give, give as much free stuff as you can. In today’s marketing standards, that means free content (videos, articles, blog posts, social media posts, etc). Literally all day long. In the TERIMIYAHIRA platforms, we’ve switched to 4x/day Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest posts, 1x/week YouTube video, and now daily articles. Free content that your audience will enjoy to consume and that you enjoy creating for them. Well-produced content builds brand trust, creates and fosters dialogue (typically between the audience members themselves), inspires your audience, and educates your audience in your particular industry. And creating this much content is in the same vein as friends who always chat with each other, they feel like they are keeping up with each other consistently, thus the relationship deepens over time.
Be in at least 3 places where your audience hangs out. If you know your target audience is on Facebook, focus a lot of your content efforts for Facebook. If you know your ideal customer hangs out on YouTube all day, make videos for that platform. If your audience is under 60 years old, email is going to be a great way to communicate with your audience via an e-newsletter. Pick at least 3 places your audience hangs out at, and be in front of them consistently. The TM brand started with YouTube, then went to Instagram, then Email, then Facebook, and now Pinterest and TERIMIYAHIRA.com. But all of this didn’t happen overnight, so start with the #1 place you feel your target audience is at, stay on that platform for at least 6 months to build relationships there, then add on a second platform.
Think long term play. Building an audience is comparable to a turtle in a marathon. It’s slow and steady, no sprints, some stumbles and setbacks, but always pushing forward even if it’s at a crawling pace. Yes, audience building can feel that painfully slow most of the time. But it’s those who stick with it for the long haul (at least 2-3 years of daily/weekly consistency with creating content) who end up being successful in their industries. The TM brand is currently in its 4th year of content creation. There’s been times where I struggled to get YouTube videos up while I was still working my day job (I would be filming at 4am before work).
Actually talk to them. This gets difficult the larger your audience becomes, but in the first few years when you have 2k or less in your audience, try your hardest to reply back to comments left on your social posts, blog, videos etc. It can get overwhelming if you’re by yourself to respond to every single comment when hundreds come in per day, but while your audience is still small and easily manageable, I recommend chatting with them as much as possible. Now that the TM total audience is at 50,000 at the time of publishing, it’s very difficult for me to single-handedly reply to comments because they come in around the clock (even while I’m sleeping). I try to pop my head in the comments sections when I can, but sometimes you need to remember that there’s 1 of you and thousands of people (in my case, I’m at a 1 : 50,000 ratio).
Photo credit: @shopboxfox