How to find your tribe

You’ve got a great service or product. You know it’s going to help people. But how do you start getting the word out? How do you create an audience who want to hear from you?

Martyn SibleyMartyn Sibley has grown two successful businesses, selling one of them to AirBnB. He was recently voted the third most influential disabled person in Britain, has a blue tick on his Twitter account, and is now focused on helping world-changers to run social enterprises.

He started out by growing an audience online. We asked him to take questions from our members about how to go about it.

This is a transcript of a conversation in the Drive The Network Facebook Group.

Can you grow an audience organically on social media?

Helen Lindop First question: Did you use any paid advertising or was it all organic, networking, building relationships etc?

Martyn Sibley Only now am I really considering paid for media. Mainly as I’ve learned how to package up information products and sell at scale.

Therefore it was all free and organic. Therefore the risk/cost was only my time.

Helen Lindop Great, I’d like to know what methods work best, then!

Martyn Sibley You’ll be unsurprised to hear me say it depends on the situation.

Partly I think creating content in a way you prefer is good. Because you’ll be more comfortable and passionate. That said it’s healthy to push your comfort zone sometimes. Overall create in a way you like to.

The next part is about your business plan and marketing plan. Who are your audience? What are their likes and interests? Where do they hang out? What do they believe?

When you know their relevant aspirations and why they’re stuck (which is why your working all these hours to provide a solution), you can attract them with suitable content on suitable media.

So think demographics and personality traits. Then the tools will become more obvious.

One other point to make is there’s always trial and error. Plus new tools come along and evolve. So updating social media plans are important.

How much time does it take to develop relationships through social media?

Andy Boothman Social media is often reported as the game changer in developing these connections – the time this takes is much longer than people envisage. How much time did you allocate to developing your social media relationships? Did you do this activity yourself or outsource to others?

Martyn Sibley When I started I was working full time for a large national charity. My strategy was to tell my story, build my community, with Calls To Action (CTA).

So I started with getting live, planning appropriate content, and actually writing/recording the content.

Once I had live content, I spent an hour or two per night and over the weekend just joining relevant conversations. Back then in 2009 I found Twitter better for keywords and influencers. Nowadays I use Facebook groups like this more, because I have my own tribe.

As things evolved, we launched, volunteers joined our mission, and I have support from others with things like researching other content to share, scheduling daily posts in advance on Hootsuite, and engaging with the tribe.

Overall I agree, it takes more time than people would like. But when you’re in something with passion and the long run, it’s a case of knowing you have time and to create lasting relationships.

Relationships lead to collaboration, customers and friendships.

Andy Boothman Advocates/case studies – can be great, they can be hard work to onboard and sometimes fail to deliver any real added value. Did you use advocates/case studies and how did you decide where the best ‘fit’ applied?

Martyn Sibley We haven’t really pushed for and used official testimonials. Our social media following and engagement does that for us.

Really we’re talking about social proof. Rather than think too specific about testimonials, like people get stressed about which social media channel to use, it’s better to be clear on business plan and marketing plan, and find tactics that are effective without needing to take ages to do.

Our community are the business. We exist to serve them. As long we remember this, the word of mouth happens because we’re delivering value each and every day.

Relationships lead to collaboration, customers and friendships.

Emma James How early in the process of developing the service/product should you start building an audience?

Martyn Sibley This depends. I started with a mission; to make the world inclusive and empower disabled people. So I started with the audience. I broadcasted my message and created a tribe of like-minded people. We learned from our community what they needed, and gave them solutions.

Conversely, if you know your product/service, then the other way round is fine too.

The main advice I can give is to use social media as a dialogue. Not a monologue. This way people can be part of the process. Feeling more engaged. And ultimately they become happy and loyal customers

Top tips for growing your audience

Martyn Sibley Some other thoughts:

  • Having a content calendar helps to plot out the needs/interests your audience have, and what you’re going to publish when.
  • If you’re comfortable, be open. People don’t just buy from businesses, they buy through trust from people they like.
  • Try to use images and videos where possible.
  • Promote your mission/vision way more than your product or service. Particularly support others in your tribe. Nobody likes to hear about features and discounts all the time.
  • Find your tribe on social media and also at networking events (like Drive!). I spoke loads for free, which always lead to something else.
  • CTAs (Call To Actions) can be anything from; subscribe to email newsletter, follow on social media, share your opinion on this, answering a poll, signing up for an event and then sometimes ‘buy now’.
  • Think in funnels. Where are people on their customer journey? How do you convert prospects into customers? How are you managing customer communications (see last week’s ATE)?
  • Do fun things like giveaways and competitions. Generally be joyful and playful. Business doesn’t have to be serious.
  • Finally, always seek feedback and listen to your tribe. They are your most important asset.

Would you like to know more? Get in touch with Martyn Sibley or follow him on Twitter.
Martyn also runs a Facebook Group for World Changers – if you want support for your world changing idea, you can apply to join the group!