Do you say this?
You've started crafting your online personal brand, and you can describe your target audience well, but ...
"I know the audience I want to surround myself with, but I struggle to find them online! How should I do it?"
This is the original email:
I recently got this question from Kevin, so let's tackle it!
First, acknowledge this
When we become entrepreneurs to go out to the world to solve problems, creating solutions is usually not that hard. This is because the entire process from coming up with an idea and building it is completely in our hands.
We have control.
And whether there will be people using our solution. We usually leave it as a problem for another day.
But if we're honest with ourselves, what's hard are things we cannot control. When it comes to things that are related to other humans, we can only do our best and then cross our fingers.
So if you're having difficulty finding your tribe (target audience), know that you're not alone.
Why do you struggle to find them?
When you come across terms like "tribe", "target audience" and "user persona", what you're doing is to put people with similar traits and behavior into the same category.
And when you think that they belong to "the same category", they must show up all together in a magical corner of the Internet, like a group of young adults gathering around a bonfire.
The fantasy is that once you locate them, you can unlock all your prospective customers.
But what entrepreneurs like you forget is that every single person is unique in their own ways and they can move around freely. Instead of thinking there is one place to find all these people, you need to shift your mindset to understand the process of identifying and connecting with them.
When you have the ability to hypothesize, explore, and find them repeatedly, your tribe and audience will grow and your business will be successful.
You need to stop doing this
Most people might choose to start the "searching" process on search engines.
"Let me type these keywords into Google or Twitter, then I can find them!"
It is not that simple.
Think. If it is as simple as using the search bar, then everyone would become a popular influencer with a rapidly growing business. There's a reason why it is hard.
Let's be creative and get deeper into finding them. And with social media like Twitter where people are expressive all the time, it is a lot easier to spot your people.
Successful people are usually good at finding hidden gems, be one of them.
You should understand these about human
I find that knowing more about human interactions can often maximize my success, here are what I've learned over the years.
- People tend to hang out with like-minded people, but in small groups (tribes). I talked about how there is no one magical community with all the people you want to find, but there are limitless small tribes out there!
- There are always tribal leaders because we humans love to follow people. You can always start the search with the tribal leaders.
- But, tribal leaders are usually too busy for you. Or they don't really have an incentive to open up their tribes to you (the stranger). So you're better off starting with the tribe members.
Steps to find your tribe and target audience
1. Locate the tribal leaders
Who shares a lot on this topic? Why do people respect them? Who are the go-to names people recommend others to check out?
Tribal leaders are relatively easy to find because people already talk about them and social media algorithm prioritizes them. They also show up regularly at events or podcasts.
You can first use Google to locate them.
Let's say I want to find an audience around Productivity on Twitter. I can type in "productivity influencer twitter" and somebody has done the work to curate a list for me.
But ... most of these lists are old and outdated. You'll find a lot of big Twitter accounts but with no engagement.
This is where I'd scan and scan until I find someone worth exploring more.
I saw this guy called Ali Abdaal and he has a lot of replies on his tweets. Great start!
I start to dig my own rabbit hole to understand the entire space of Productivity from Ali's perspective.
Where I'd look:
- Go to his website and channels to see what content he is creating
- Go to his "Following" to see what are the other brilliant minds Ali is following
- Go to his "Followers" to see the kind of people following Ali
As you can imagine, this rabbit hole can be deep. But this entire process is not just for you to find people.
As an entrepreneur, your early knowledge about a topic is usually limited. This process also lets you learn so much about this space in order to find your way to stand out.
A lot of people get annoyed by the 96.4k followers and start to think of smart ways to help them auto-follow. They're leaving all the learning opportunities to understand the people on the table.
2. Identify the members surrounding the tribal leaders
Who are the most active people engaging in conversations? Who is always there to help out others? What do they mostly talk about?
After you have the tribal leader, it is time to move to check out the tribe members.
The easiest way is to go to the leader's latest tweets and check out the conversations happening there. Tweets that are open-ended are gold mines because you can learn so much.
I'd start hovering over the people to engage in this tweet. If this person looks interesting, I'd click to open a new tab.
Okay, here's a bonus for you! I'd take note of what people are saying.
Why? Because if you want to grow your audience down the road, you'd also need to create valuable content. Without helpful content, no one will "follow" you. So this is a good chance to build your library of knowledge for later use since you're already in the search process.
Always hit multiple birds with one stone.
While the tribal leaders are hard to reach, the members are relatively easy to talk to because they're also actively seeking like-minded people.
Remember you click open a lot of new tabs, now let's do something with them.
3. Befriend with tribe members
To make a new friend, you have to confirm 2 things.
- I need to make sure I like Marissa. She seems to be an interesting person here!
- Obviously, she has to love Productivity, and she definitely does!
And now I'd click that "Follow" button to be a kind person to show interest first. And I'd scroll down to check out her latest tweets, in which I'd try to add value by making a reply.
If I really don't have anything to add, I'd go check out a few more tweets. I never want to reply for the sake of replying because you also want her to be interested in you.
At this point, if Marissa sees that I'm trying to connect and she has an interest as well, then we become a little more than strangers!
This is all it takes to befriend a tribe member. Show interest first and start a casual conversation by adding value.
Remember, you do not ask for a favor. You do not talk about yourself or your idea. You do not treat her as "a number". You take the time to connect and leave a good impression.
If she doesn't engage back, it's okay. You'll not have a 100% success rate, but if you're doing this right and gradually improving your approach, you'll easily get at least a 50% response.
By now, you've learned the steps to find your target audience! This article can well end here, but I think I can make your life even better by showing you how you can take a few steps forward.
4. Become one of the tribe members
Trust me. We're all smart people. It is easy to spot who is here just for things and who is here as a friend.
So here I'd encourage you to slow down and stop thinking about business and growth. Audience building is about human interaction, and you can't brute force human interaction to happen quickly. This is the number one mistake I've seen entrepreneurs make.
As you slow down, you want to be one of the tribe members to help out at this campfire (remember the picture above?).
Can you bring food or drinks next time? Can you bring a speaker for music? Can you bring a great conversation?
On the Internet, you don't have to worry about food, drinks, or music. There's only one thing you need to bring: help them.
You can ask genuinely what they're doing and struggling with, and with your own experiences, offer to help if you can. If you can't, just say you can't.
You want to be honest. And you also want to avoid being too eager to help, sometimes that can come off as desperation.
5. Establish your reputation in this tribe
By now, you've met numerous tribe members and had conversations with them. You also curated a library of knowledge and questions from your search process.
Now let's put them into use!
Before this process, you're an unknown who doesn't know what people want. But now, with this wealth of knowledge coming directly from the people, you can actually help a lot of people!
What you can do is to start simplifying the knowledge and presenting them in easy-to-understand ways. Craft some tweets to go out regularly on your personal Twitter account like this one:
Imagine the new tribe members you just get to know. They're going to check you out when you show interest in them. And when they see you're sharing valuable content, it is a no-brainer they'd click the "Follow" button to get connected to you.
Did I just show you the way to become a content creator of the Internet?
That's right! It is all about inputting knowledge, processing them with your own mind, and outputting your unique points of view on this topic.
Be careful though. There is a clear distinction between stealing and being inspired. If you just copy and paste people's words and share them, you'll destroy your life-long reputation.
6. Key: be one of them
Guess what, you've not just found your a target audience, you're growing an audience by first becoming their audience.
This is important because audience building doesn't mean you're standing on stage screaming to everyone. It looks more like this - where you're one of them and you're being helpful to the group.
I also show you how you can become a content creator, which is a crucial step to grow your own audience.
If you go through this process again, you'll know that this is not rocket science nor a growth hack. This is your way to build up your personal brand and authentic voice in front of the people you care about.
These tribes and audiences will be connected to your own name.
If someone tells you they can help you fast track your followers to 10k in a few short months, think twice whether you prefer to build fast and get destroyed fast or build slow and get destroyed slow.
I always prefer the latter.