As an online content creator, your success is largely dependent on the level of your fans’ direct support. They’re the ones who watch your videos, buy your merch, use your affiliate links, and promote your content simply because they love it. The most successful creators have strong communities of fans around their channels.
These are the four keys for turning your audience into a community.
1. More direct audience engagement helps them feel closer to you.
The first step in building a community around your channel is making your audience feel close to you. Think of your relationship with your audience as a friendship. You’d feel a lot closer to a friend who texts you everyday than you would to someone who only occasionally likes your posts. While you probably won’t be texting your fans directly, you can keep in touch with them by replying to their tweets and comments, liking Instagram posts they’ve tagged you in, and answering their DMs.
You can get creative with your audience engagement as well. The more you can do, the better. Create duets with their TikToks. Give shout-outs to especially active followers in your next video. Surprise fans by following them back on Twitter. You could even go through their Instagram feeds and like a few of their posts.
For the most effective audience engagement, really think outside the box. What can you do that would be completely unique to your channel? For example, DIY creator Moriah Elizabeth has a P.O. box where fans can send their used, broken squishies for her to repair in her popular “squishy makeovers” series.
2. Encourage friendships between fans.
The community around your channel shouldn’t be solely focused on the relationship between you and your fans. The friendships fans form with each other are one of the core elements of a close-knit online community. Brought together by their mutual interest in your channel, these friends will work hard to support you.
You can begin to encourage friendships between your fans by giving them places to engage with each other. For example, you might ask a question in a video or on Twitter and invite fans to reply to each other. You can also boost the profiles of fans by engaging with them on social media; then, your followers can find other users they want to interact with.
Group chats are another place fans come together. While you may not go about starting your own group chats with fans, you can encourage them to start more of their own by shouting out group chats in live streams. When you’re live, look for messages asking you to read out the names of fans’ group chats or friends. Read those messages on the stream so your other fans will be encouraged to create their own group chats.
3. Praising fan creations shows them you appreciate them as much as they appreciate you.
To show your appreciation for your fans, praise the creations they share with you. Your fans spend a lot of time on art, videos, and other creative projects based on your channel. They might even run entire accounts dedicated to supporting you. Take your appreciation further than liking fan art on Instagram. Share a few of your favorite pieces of fan art. Retweet funny replies from fans so everyone can see how clever they were. Follow back fan accounts and engage with the content they produce regularly.
One of the best ways to show your fans how much you appreciate their creations is to showcase their work in a video. To make it more interesting, utilize their work in a unique way. For example, in this video, not only did the Dolan Twins react to fan art, but they also tried their best to recreate it.
4. Open, honest communication makes your relationship with your fans stronger.
Finally, the most important aspect of a strong relationship between a creator and their fans is open, honest communication. Remember that, to your audience, you are more of a friend than a celebrity. If they can’t hold you accountable, then their trust in you, as well as their support, will quickly vanish.
Owning up to your mistakes and actively creating change will set you apart from many creators who have let their egos become their downfalls. If your fans call you out on something, take a step back and examine the situation. Research and seek to educate yourself, then come back and address the issue in a timely, mature manner.
Honest communication also applies to everyday things, such as properly disclosing sponsorships. Additionally, you should discourage your fans from sending hate or negative comments to any creators who take issue with you. Likewise, be mindful of the way you handle drama with other creators. If you hold yourself to a higher standard, then your audience will follow your example.
Transforming your audience into a community requires audience engagement, friendships between fans, appreciation for fan creations, and open communication. Treat your followers like friends, and they will rally around you.
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Kristen Harris enjoys listening to a wide range of music, from Taylor Swift to, on occasion, Celtic instrumental. She also spends her time writing, reading, and baking.