Does it feel like you’re hearing crickets whenever you try to engage with your audience? If you are craving connection with your audience, you will definitely want to stick around!
Can’t listen to the episode? Read on for the transcript!
I am so excited to dive into today’s topic. Now last week during the summit, there were so many conversations about connecting with your audience how to do that, where to do that, and I am just really, really excited to dive into this topic today because I know how difficult it can feel to be trying to connect with your audience, but really feeling like there’s nobody out there even listening. And so I want to just really unpack this topic and help you to learn how you can connect with your audience because it can really seem like a mystery sometimes. Now for most food bloggers, you probably didn’t start a blog to get rich overnight. Growing a food blog or any type of online business takes a lot of hard work and often it takes many years of putting in that hard work even before you may be able to see a tangible results or tangible income from your food blog.
But one of the things that makes all of that hard work and hustling worth it is connecting with your audience. When you get those DMS on Instagram that someone made your recipe or you get a five star rating on your website, those moments are what fuel the passion that you have for what you do. Now if you are in the camp of feeling like when you post things on Instagram or even on your blog that you just don’t really get a lot of feedback, you are totally not alone. I hear this constantly from people in all industries that connecting with your audience is so hard. So to get us started today I wanted to first start with a few mistakes that I see people making when they are connecting with your audience and I usually hate to start with a negative, but I think this will really help you to see which of these mistakes you might be making and then I hope that you’ll be able to take away.
Just a quick tip for what you can do to change that. And then I’m going to share a few tips for how you can start connecting more with your audience.
Mistake #1: sharing the same exact content in all of the places
So this mistake might seem strange with all of the talk out there about repurposing content and I am 100% for repurposing content. But here’s the thing, what works for Instagram may not work for Pinterest and what works for Pinterest may not work for Facebook and what works on your blog may not work on Instagram at all. Each of these platforms is totally unique. It has a specific demographic that uses it, a specific algorithm and it was designed for a specific purpose. Social networks are just not all the same, but so often we share the exact same things on different platforms and think that things aren’t working because we’re not getting engagement.
One example of this is on Instagram. I see so many people only using their Instagram stories to share the images that are posted on their feed. Now, this is great for getting more eyes on it and that’s definitely a tactic that you can use, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that you’re sharing on your Instagram stories, Instagram stories and your feet are meant for two completely different purposes.
Repurposing content is a great way to save time and to batch your content, but you really have to make sure that you’re doing it while knowing how the different platforms work so that you can do this more strategically and not just feel like you’re checking the boxes of sharing the same image and same caption on all of the different platforms.
Mistake #2: Not knowing where your audience hangs out
Now, this second mistake, it goes hand in hand with sharing the content the same way in all of the places.
Your audience probably isn’t even active on all of those platforms. Your audience might love Pinterest but hate Twitter or your audience might love Twitter but hate Facebook. This is why knowing your audience is the very first step that I recommend to building a strategic blog. Knowing your demographics about your audience, like their age or their occupation is really great, but only if you can connect the dots of how the swing to help you grow your blog and how this is going to help you be more strategic in your content planning. So to give you an illustration of this, I want to tell you a story about my grandmother now. She is 84 years young and she loves to knit and crochet. Recently one of my friends was looking for someone to knit her a baby bonnet. So I enlisted the help of my grandma and so she was looking for patterns for this bonnet and she wanted to show me a few of them.
When I went over to her house to take a look at it, she pulled up Facebook and she started using it like Google to search for patterns. Now I can honestly say that I would never use Facebook in this way.
In fact, I really dislike the search feature on Facebook because it never seems to show me what I want. The only time I would use this is to search for something that I know that I saw in the past, but I lost it or to search for a specific page or person.
So why does this example matter?
Now, if I had a blog all about knitting and I was targeting women who were in their seventies and up, knowing the way that they interact with Facebook could completely change how I try to connect with them.
On the flip side, if I was trying to connect with millennials who are learning to knit, I would probably utilize Instagram, TV, or YouTube to create content and connect with them.
Mistake #3 is giving up on a platform or a method of connecting with your audience too quickly.
When I decided to start this podcast, I told myself that I would do it for a year before I would give up or change course on it. I had to set this boundary specifically because it’s so easy to give up on something when it feels like it isn’t working.
Luckily you guys have been amazing in just giving me feedback and connecting with me. On Instagram, so I know that this podcast is doing what I hoped it would do, which is to help you grow your blog more strategically, but when you’re trying to connect with your audience, it can feel really defeating.
When you share something and you hear nothing back, it can feel like it isn’t working or that you need to switch gears. Here’s the problem with that mentality though…
It takes a lot of exposure to something for us to take action. This is true in really any form of marketing or selling.
The second problem is that if we give up too quickly, we really may miss out on big connections. Can you imagine if you had stopped using Pinterest after a week of trying it or Instagram stories or Facebook groups?
When a new product or marketing tool comes out, we have to give it time to work and we also have to give ourselves time to figure out how it works for our specific business. You don’t give up on the new operating system on your phone if you don’t understand it right away.
Truly connecting with your audience takes diligence and patience to see results.
Mistake #4: only following what you see other people doing
As a web designer, I am often given examples of websites that people like or certain elements of a site that someone wants to utilize on their website.
Inspiration is an amazing tool, but it will only get you so far if you’re not asking if your audience wants or needs the feature that you’re wanting to implement. My biggest advice is not to do something that you see other bloggers doing just because you think you should or you think it will bring you success.
Let’s recap those four mistakes really quickly and then we’ll move into some tips of how you can connect more with your audience. And I have seen these mistakes made in pretty much every industry, but I specifically picked these mistakes out because there are things that I see food bloggers specifically doing.
- Sharing the same content in all of the places.
- Not knowing where your audience hangs out.
- Giving up too quickly on a platform
- Following what other people are doing.
How can you connect more with your audience?
The first thing, and if you’ve been a listener of this podcast for any length of time, you will not be surprised that my first tip is to know your audience.
Now, if you are uncertain about who your ideal audience is or hearing that really makes you roll your eyes because you feel like that’s not the first thing that you should do, I want you to go back and listen to episode number two.
Know Your Audience
I talk about this episode all the time because I really think that knowing your ideal audience is the foundation to everything else when it comes to building a brand and building a business that will help you connect with your audience. You have to know who your audience is and I’m not necessarily talking just demographics here, but in this example, demographics are going to be really helpful.
Earlier I talked about different platforms and what your audience might like. If your audience is a specific age range, then Facebook might be the better place to connect with them.
Or if you are targeting millennials or someone under 30 Instagram might be the right place. If you are targeting men specifically, Pinterest is probably not going to be the place that you need to connect with them.
To be honest, if you are connecting or trying to connect with an audience that is predominantly male, you may be needing to really utilize email marketing or your blog itself rather than a social media network.
This is going to depend on what your blog is about, what the niche is, but I know I’ve heard many men talk about how if they’re looking for something, they’re going to go to Google first rather than a social media network.
But I know from watching my husband interact with Instagram that he goes to that for certain products or certain workout routines and things like that. So you have to know who your audience is, where they’re going to find information and what they are using those platforms for.
If you are not really sure who your audience is, think about yourself or think about the person that you were when you started the journey that you’re helping someone along.
One of the examples I give often is if you’re a dairy free blogger, think about where you were at when your family first went dairy free, what sorts of resources were you looking for? Where were you looking for them?Obviously, social media changes very quickly and it may have been a totally different time when you were going through this, but think about how you interact with the platform now and what you use that platform for.
Make your content about your audience
The second part about knowing your ideal audience is that you also have to focus on making your content about them.
This is a really, really hard thing for us to do as online business owners because it’s our business and a lot of the focus is on our story and us being the expert in teaching people. But you have to remember that if you’re only ever talking about yourself or what you know, it’s really hard for your audience to relate to that. I have kind of learned this the hard way in crafting Instagram captions and things like that.
It’s really easy for me to write something from the first person perspective and talk about lessons that I have learned, but when I switched the language and I talk about you instead of me, it’s a lot easier for someone to comment and be a part of the conversation than it is if I’m only ever talking about myself.
That may sound really self-centered to say, but that is sort of the nature of how most of us use these platforms and it’s a very fine balance between these two sides of the conversation of being the expert and making it your story, but allowing your audience to be a part of it as well.
This is going to be different for every audience and every niche, every topic that you blog about. And so you really have to figure this out.
One of my absolute favorite ways to learn about your audience if you don’t know who they are is to talk to them. And that may seem like the simplest answer I could’ve possibly given you, but sometimes it just takes literally getting on the phone with someone, even if it’s for five or 10 minutes. I did this for a while before I started The Food Blogger Summit. I asked for a couple of people that could get on a call with me so that I could really understand their struggles when it came to growing their blog. And to be honest, I think if I hadn’t done that, the summit probably would have been shaped in a totally different way.
But because I asked those questions and I listened to my audience and what they were needing, I truly believe that’s why the summit was such a success.
Go where your audience is
The third sort of part of knowing your ideal audience and using that to connect with them is once you know who they are, you need to go where they are. This gets tricky when you are trying to be on different platforms and grow your social networks so that you can work with sponsors or networks on sponsored posts.
When it comes to connecting with your audience, you need to spend the time focused on the platform that they’re on.
Now that may mean that you focus your energy and your time on one platform and on the rest of them you automate that process and you do reshare the exact same content on those platforms.
The mistake that I talked about at the beginning of this episode was more for people who are trying to be in all of the places and connect with every audience on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest and all the places when every platform is so different.
Really go all-in on learning that platform and how to use it properly. And you’re going to find much more success focusing your efforts and your energy there instead of trying to be in all the places.
Once you figure out where your ideal audience is hanging out and specifically where you want to be connecting with them, you may need to take the extra step to teach them to interact with you.
That may seem really bizarre to hear, but you are an online business owner and you have a blog and so we have been trained in how to interact with other brands using Instagram or Facebook or even leaving comments and ratings on blogs. It’s something that we’ve been doing for years, but we were taught that at some point nowadays our audiences are not used to engaging and interacting.
Most “normal” audiences that are not online, business owners don’t understand that. We want them to engage with us and answer our questions and interact with our polls on Instagram stories, leave a comment on our recipes, all of those types of things, and so we need to teach them how we want them to interact with us.
You want to do this in a way that demeaning or degrading to them or making it seem like you’re assuming that they are not intelligent enough to know how to use the platform, but make it in a really casual, normal way where at the end of the caption you say, comment with your favorite recipe using this ingredient or in your Instagram stories, you put up a poll and you reply to their response in the poll so that they know that you are wanting to start a conversation with them.
Most of our audiences are not going to be trained this way and they’re going to be using these platforms as more entertainment than interaction, but the more you can help them see how you want them to engage with you by leaving comments, leaving recipe ratings, all of those sorts of things, you’re going to start to see more connection with your audience because they know what to do.
Be a regular person and be yourself.
You don’t need it to always be the expert who never makes mistakes or never shows real life. In my interview that I did with Jenny Melrose a few weeks ago, she said something that was so profound to me about how to connect with your audience and being able to understand the difference between your Instagram feed and your Instagram stories and basically she said that your Instagram stories are for the real life moments.
You can show on there if you mess up a recipe or if you’re having an off day, but your feed is more of a place to be a portfolio to showcase your recipes and have sort of that “picture perfect” grid and those picture-perfect recipes.
That’s what they’re expecting to see on your feed and in your stories is when you can really open up and open the door to conversation. But it’s really important that you show your real-life and yourself because the reality is that your audience, their kitchen doesn’t look like your kitchen does or their food doesn’t look like yours does on the plate where everything is perfectly proportioned and has garnishes and things like that.
Your audience needs to see the real-life side of your blog and your business so that they can connect with you as a person and they can connect with your story of why you are doing this.
Test out strategies
The last tip that I’m going to give you is that you have to test things and I wish that there was an easier answer than all of these little tips to connecting with your audience. I wish that there was just a magic switch that you could turn on, but it doesn’t really work that way. You have to figure out what works for your audience and your brand and the only way that you’re going to do that is by testing things.
There are so many people who seem to think that getting 10,000 followers on Instagram is magically going to get you to connect with your audience more or that if you just had the verified checkmark on Instagram, that that would help you connect with people more.
But I think the more followers that you have without having these strategies in place to connect with your audience, probably the more lonely and defeating it might feel to be putting out content and not having people interact with you.
You’re going to have those people that just want to give their opinion no matter what and will interact with you, but those might not be the your true fans that you are trying to build a relationship with and really connect with so that you can serve them so you have to test things. I mentioned earlier picking one platform and sticking to that one until you feel like you have figured out the way that you need to connect with your audience there. Maybe it is using your website more strategically and putting more of your story and your brand messaging onto your website.
There are so many missed opportunities on different social media platforms and on your blog itself to connect with your audience. Again, we have to remember that our audience is not like us in the way that they understand how to interact with brands on Instagram or they understand how much it means to you to get a comment or rating on your recipe.
We have to train them and we have to test what works with them. And I have definitely been guilty of this trying new things and giving up on them really quickly before in the past too. And so I think it’s really important to like set a goal for yourself so that you can follow it and see what works. And so that might mean that you pick a platform, let’s just say for the month of March, you are going to work on connecting with your audience on Instagram and so that might be that you’re going to use all sorts of different strategies to see what works.
There are so many missed opportunities on different social media platforms and on your blog itself to connect with your audience.
Again, we have to remember that our audience is not like us in the way that they understand how to interact with brands on Instagram or they understand how much it means to you to get a comment or rating on your recipe. And so we have to train them and we have to test what works with them. And I have definitely been guilty of this trying new things and giving up on them really quickly before in the past too.
It’s really important to like set a goal for yourself so that you can follow it and see what works. And so that might mean that you pick a platform, let’s just say for the month of March, you are going to work on connecting with your audience on Instagram and so that might be that you’re going to use all sorts of different strategies to see what works.
You might try out some questions. You might try out some polls in your Instagram stories, maybe in your captions on your feed. You experiment with sharing the full recipe versus not sharing the full recipe or giving them a call to action to tag a friend or share the recipe with a friend. But the point is that you have to pick a lane and stick with it until you can make a decision and have enough data to be able to tell whether or not it worked.
Because if you’re always just flipping between platforms and trying new things once in awhile on and off, you’re never going to really know what is working with your audience and it’s going to come off on the audience’s side as you being all over the place too. And so they’re not going to know. They may see a poll and as hard as it is to believe for us as online business owners, maybe they’ve never seen someone use that feature before.
You might even be thinking, well, I’ve used it before, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve seen it. Maybe they have seen it before but have never interacted with it and so when they do that for the first time and you message them and start a conversation, maybe all of a sudden they understand why you did that in the first place.
That might mean that you’re not doing polls that are sort of mindless or just really trying to get your people to say something. It might be that you’re being more strategic with how you are using those really cool features on Instagram stories to connect with your audience
I want you to review those four mistakes that I mentioned at the beginning and figure out if you’re making any of those mistakes I just said a few minutes ago that I have totally made these mistakes before. So there’s no shame if you have made any of these mistakes or you are currently making these mistakes.
I hope you will see with the flip side of that could look like and how you can start putting these strategies into place. So after you look at those mistakes, I want you to really try to hone in on who your audiences. Write it down on a piece of paper or visualize if it’s a friend of yours that fits your demographic and your ideal audience. Pretend like you’re talking to them on Instagram. Use stories to connect with them in your captions and don’t always necessarily just be sharing your recipe from your blog or trying to get people off of the platform to go onto your blog to find something, figure out ways to get them to connect right where they’re at.
And remember that you have to be persistent with this.
It takes your audience a long time to realize what it is that you wanting them to do and to take action on it so you have to stay in your lane and figure out one strategy that you’re going to implement for a month or maybe it’s 90 days and then you’re going to analyze it and see if it worked.
If you got even one strategy out of this episode, I would love to hear what it was so it would mean the world to me. If you would take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram stories.
That is me telling you what I would like you to do and that is exactly what I’m telling you to do with your audience. 😉
I hope this episode was super helpful for you and I am really excited for the next few episodes as I dig more into how you can connect with your audience specifically on your website through different pages of your website.