"if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
- John Quincy Adams
Something’s been bothering me lately (and it’s not that our summer weather in the UK only lasted for about a week).
You see, I did a quick Google search the other day on different topics, and looked to see what particular word was in the headline: followers or community.
90% of the headlines included the phrase “grow your followers.”
10% of the headlines included the phrase “grow your community.”
But my question here is this: what’s the point in building a following when they aren’t going to be engaged?
Some may not be aware of this, but a following and a community are two completely different things. A following simply follows along with what you do. But a community embraces and shares what you do. So today, I thought it would be good to have a chat about why it’s more beneficial to build a following rather than a community, and what this means for you, your blog and your brand.
I've also made two free downloadable PDFs for you. These are two of my favourite motivational quotes that I read every day to inspire me to do the work I do. Print them off, put them as your desktop background or use them however you want to. I promise, they'll fill you with good energy.
Download the two free PDFs here!
pushing and promoting yourself all the time won't get you anywhere
Some people think they have to get their name out there all the time to be seen. But that just creates noise. You don’t want to create noise, right? You want to rise above it.
The general “rule” (even though there aren’t many rules in blogging) is 80/20. 80% of what you share should be promoting others. 20% of what you share should be promoting yourself. So usually on Twitter, I’ve got 15 tweets scheduled per day. Following the 80/20 rule means that only three of these should be self-promotional, whether that be sharing my latest blog post or sharing a link to my newsletter sign up page. The rest can be sharing other content, asking questions and engaging.
If you just promote and promote, or push and push what you have to offer all the time you won’t get anywhere. As Monika Kanokova said: “Scream as loud as you want, it’s never going to be as well received as when your customers mention you to their friends.”
Seeing a Twitter feed that’s all “me, me, me!” instantly turns me off, and a lot of others too. Sure, it’s natural; self-promotion is part of our job. But promoting yourself all the time indicates that the person behind the profile is all about the followers.
Whereas if you’re intentionally sharing content and images that you know your community will love, you’re keeping them as a part of your community. You’re giving them a reason to come back to you. Jen from Jennypurr wrote a great post about the art of self-promotion that you should definitely read.
followers are strangers. your community are your friends
They’re your cheerleaders. Your community is full of people who are going to be shouting about your brand to everyone else. Followers won’t care. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. And if you were only interested in building a following you wouldn’t care either. That’s the difference between focusing on how many followers you get in a day, and focusing on how many people you interact with every day.
Your community will share your blog posts and brand over and over again. Will people who are just your followers?
But just think if you could turn a follower into a member of your community. Think how many loyal people you’d have then.
focusing on the numbers should not be your reason for what you do
There are still people who start blogs because they want to be exactly like another person out there. They think, “Oh, this person blogs about beauty and spends her days travelling, I can do that too!”
But those of us who take this thing seriously, are well aware that these people aren’t cut out for what blogging actually entails.
Let’s be simple: ask yourself, are you doing this for the followers? If you are, I’d seriously rethink.
But I know that most of you will be doing this for another reason. Whether it’s your creative outlet, or you want to share your skills or you want to try and make a living this way – having your “why” as a reason like this means you’re already halfway there.
Say there were two bloggers who each had 1000 people subscribed to their mailing list. Blogger A’s list are all completely engaged with her brand. Blogger B’s list of full of people who just wanted a freebie and probably don’t even open her emails anyway.
If both bloggers were to sell a product to their mailing lists, which one do you think would succeed?
Concentrate on building your community. Not your numbers.
long term benefits will always mean more than instant gratification
I’ve spoken before about this idea on the blog – the fact that seeing 10 new followers per day on Twitter will never have as much of an impact as seeing your growth overtime. It can be tempting (really tempting) to celebrate every new comment or every new person that signs up to receive your blog posts. But take it from my experience – this will only make you feel less productive and less fulfilled. We should be able to do our work without expecting results every time.
Focusing on growing a following means you’re chasing instant gratification. Focusing on growing a community means your chasing long term satisfaction. Sustainable results is what we want. Results that make a difference and that will benefit you in the long run.
You could publish a blog post about a trend that’s really current right now. But it will only be current for that period of time.it won’t last forever. Is that developing your brand in the long run? Or is it better to create evergreen content that lasts month after month and year after year?
I think to really differentiate between the two, you’ve got to look at your big picture, and the big goals you really want to achieve. If you want to great a big community of loyal people and big thinkers, you’ll want to focus more on the long term benefits for them and for yourself.
What’s important to realise here is this: a community will fulfil you more than a following.
Your community will ride the storm and come out with you on the other side. Your community will send you support when you’re going through a tough time. Your community will celebrate you when you reach a milestone.
In everything you do, seek to give something to your community. Fuel them and you’ll fuel yourself.
For this post, I went to Twitter and asked you: “What’s more important – building a following or building a community? Here’s what you said. Want to take part in the next Q&A? Join the Twitter community here.
"Community for sure. Your follower count means nothing if you’re not engaged with them."
"100% community – it is incredibly important to me to connect with those who share my world, and I work on doing so daily!"
I know how hard it is when you’re waiting for those long term results, but they’re taking forever to come. That’s why I’ve made two free posters for you to download. Print them off and stick them on your fridge, use them to write notes on, or use one as your desktop background. Just remember the words and remember your community.
Still want the free motivational PDFs to reassure you? You can get them right here!
So what do you think – is it more important to build a following or a community?