The following is an excerpt from Mention Academy: a free 10-week email course on how to use monitoring to grow your business. Enroll now.

Why are you reading this? I mean it. Really.

Answer that question, then, like a little kid, ask yourself, “Why?” again and again. Eventually, and hopefully sooner than later, you’ll answer, “Because I need customers to make money.”

Here’s the biggest misconception with marketing—and content marketing more specifically—and how it actually works:

how content marketing works

You can see there are a few steps to build your community of advocates:

  1. Publish awesome content consistently. Then learn from its success.
  2. Help your readers share your content to engage with your brand.
  3. After they read and share several of your posts, they’ll subscribe to receive your marketing, maybe through email, RSS, Web push, or something similar.
  4. From here, they actively click through their subscription, read your content, and share it only for the next 30 or so days.
  5. That is, unless you hook them with some amazing brand community building that turns them into advocates.
  6. After a brief period, let’s say a week, now they’re hooked. You have a loyal advocate who couldn’t help turning into a customer!

Trust builds relationships. And relationships—or emotional feelings of connection to your brand—inspire advocacy.

With 84% of people preferring to find information themselves, where do they start searching? The interwebs. And where should you start building your brand community? Where your audience is.

So here is how to use media monitoring—combined with solid marketing—to scour the Internet and build your community.

1. Monitor social media to find opportunities to engage

Answer your audience’s questions about your niche.

Before they’ll ever become readers, your audience needs to know you actually exist. It’s super easy to use media monitoring for brand community building this way:

  1. Monitor keywords core to your product or service to know what is being published, what your audience is saying about it, and where they’re sharing it.
  2. From there, answer their questions where they’re happening: social media, blog post comments, groups, and forums.
  3. Share your related content that expands on your answers to back up your claims and introduce them to your brand.

This will help you understand your prospects’ challenges while making connections you never would have otherwise. A personal introduction to become a reader is a great way to start your brand community building.

Thank your promoters for sharing content.

There is a lot of “research” out there about how many “touch points” a brand should make before a prospect will convert into a customer. Some say 5, others say 7, still others say 13.

I call shenanigans on all of those.

But I do understand the idea of creating meaningful experiences with your readers frequently to help them feel a connection with your brand. Personal contact can definitely influence trust, and you can water the seed for that relationship through social media.

Do that by thanking your promoters who share your content on social media, enticing them to read further with even more relevant content. It’s easy:

    1. Monitor social media to know what content readers are sharing.
    2. Respond to the tweets, posts, and messages by thanking them for the share.
    3. In your response, include a link to a related piece of content from your brand (whether it’s on your blog or a guest post somewhere else).
    4. Think like a brand, respond like a human. Show some personality, even if you use your brand’s social network accounts to thank your readers for their word of mouth promotion.

This cycle is super helpful for turning promoters into subscribers, and along the way, you’re showing a personal side of your brand that helps them connect with something beyond a faceless organization.

Here’s a simple example of how it works:

And from here, subscribers are more likely to turn into advocates, a core element of your brand community building.

Pro tip: Monitor the conversations from your guest posts. There’s never a better opportunity to bring a new audience back to your site since they actively like your content on another. A personal welcome, that thank you method, will do the trick.

Key Takeaway: Use social media to build an initial connection that can be deepened to move the customer lifecycle.

2. Encourage and participate in conversations to build trust

When you listen and answer your audience’s questions, and fuel the reader/promoter loop, you’re well on your way to building an open and successful community.

And it’s because you’re doing something right.

Your content is spot on, and your community engagement is spectacular. People are going to start talking about it.

Media monitoring will help you find those posts, case studies, videos, and more so you can participate in the conversations where your audience is having them:

      1. Listen for content mentioning your brand. These folks are promoters with a lot more to say than just sharing your content on social media. Follow the same steps of thanking these guys and gals for referencing your content to gain even more trust.
      2. Look for articles about your brand. These folks are probably already advocates or customers who are spreading the word. Chat with them to inspire further devotion and get the opportunity to connect with their audience.
      3. Help promoters when they ask for it. Sometimes, promoters may ask you to share their content that mentions you. Or maybe they’d like some advice. Or maybe they’d like some data from your business. If that happens, help ‘em out! That’s a great way to turn their mentions and inquiries into relationships with your brand.
      4. When conversations with your promoters, subscribers, and advocates become super meaningful, identify the influencers and invite them into a content partnership—a win-win to build your brand and theirs. They’ll love you even more for the opportunity.

Or, just let them know you loved what they did, and they’ll love you back:

Key Takeaway: Empower your promoters to turn into even bigger advocates.

3. Give your advocates a way to connect with each other

So, where does all the love go? While it’s important to participate in the conversations where your audience is having them, it’s also great to help them connect with one another to form their own relationships— a community isn’t just about your brand and its audience, but about relationships among a group of people.

Up to this point, media monitoring has helped you build relationships with lots of promoters and subscribers. Now it’s time to help your influencer advocates fuel the fire

When you give your audience the chance to connect with one another, it’s amazing how self-sufficient they become. Your advocates answer questions on your behalf, they give each other helpful advice, and everyone—including your brand—grows a community.

Here are a few examples of venues where you can host your community:

      1. Blog post comments
      2. Twitter chat
      3. Facebook Group
      4. LinkedIn Group
      5. Your own forum
      6. In-person events and meet-ups

So far at CoSchedule, we chose to rock a Twitter chat called #CoChat to connect with our audience and learn their biggest challenges to provide helpful advice through our content:

Key Takeaway: Make the connection with your audience, then help them connect with each other to build a community.

How Will You Build Your Community?

These tips will help you connect your brand to a real person. But it’s definitely not exhaustive; it’s just what we’ve done at CoSchedule so far that has worked.

The process of nurturing a reader to promoter, and from there into a subscriber and advocate isn’t a smooth process of 5, 7, 13, or heck, even 100 touch points.

Yet, if you simply create content your readers want, thank them for sharing it, and provide a way for them to come back over and over, you’re well on your way. From there, encourage them to subscribe and participate in your community.

If there is a single takeaway from this post, it’s this: Listen, help, share, converse, and engage.


For more lessons like this, enroll in Mention Academy today!

Nathan Ellering heads up the Demand Generation team at CoSchedule. He’s a big fan of content marketing, blogging, and strategy stuff. He listens to vinyl, plays the drums, and loves craft beer. Hit him up at @njellering on the Twitter. ;)

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