With such a low barrier of entry, nearly everyone can set up a blog in 10 minutes and start publishing. A tonne of content is published on the internet every day. As a result, a lot of online publishers find it difficult to draw the attention of their audience to their web portals. They struggle with the same old question: How to build an audience for their web portals?
This question has been asked millions of times and has been answered quite ambiguously. Let us take a simple approach to it and find out exactly how to do it.
To build an audience, you have to place yourself in the shoes of your customer and be everywhere they go. Online users behave similarly as they do offline. They like to connect and interact. For that you have to reach out to your audience and be open to interaction.
Everyone knows about SEO, ad campaigns and social media profiles. The key is to use them effectively to be visible to your audience.
Let's see how we can do that.
1. Be searchable
Although, SEO is very well known, it still remains the number one point on the list. With the way that the Internet has evolved, search engines have indeed captured the central position in the online world today.
Locate the keywords that your target users use on search engines to find what you can offer and focus your SEO activities around them.
You can find out the keywords and know the frequency with which they are used by using Search engines’ free keyword tools.
Be aware that many CMS’s are not very SEO friendly. Look for a CMS that can help you with SEO. Eg. BlackMonk is a CMS that is made specifically for publishers and allows them to take care of SEO with almost no coding required.
Besides SEO, launching ad campaigns from time to time can hasten the process.
2. Give them what they want.
Now that you are searchable and also know what your audience searches for, address the pain points and provide them what they look for. Tailor your content to match the needs of your audience.
Look for the topics where your expertise can help users find solutions to their problems.
Make a content marketing strategy by deciding upon the topics and writing on them with a good frequency. This process requires patience, but is a sure shot way to build a loyal audience.
This is exactly why many business owners today have begun making their own blogs rather than relying on big publications only, for their content promotion activities.
3. Jack of all trades, master of one.
You already know that social media profiles are necessary. They are the platforms where your target audience already frequents.
Although, it can be quite daunting to take care of so many social media profiles. The good news is, you do not need to be very active on all of them.
Have your presence on all the social media platforms, but focus on the one that you find is the best to convey the message about your web portal and interact with your audience.
I personally prefer Facebook. Make a page and update it frequently with posts that either help your audience or have some entertainment value.
The fact is that once your profile starts getting traction on any one of the platforms, your profiles on other platforms would get audience with little effort.
You do not need to update others as frequently.
4. Strike when the iron is hot.
Many people would agree, a quick way to get heads to turn is by being controversial.
Stay tuned to the news and happenings around the world that your target audience takes an interest in and publish content at appropriate times.
Content delivered at the right time, at the right place, can get the number of your daily visitors to shoot overnight.
Let us take an example. A week ago, the whole world was down with the FIFA World Cup fever. Many noteworthy happenings were witnessed from Suarez biting on the field to Neymar Jr. getting hurt.
All those posts written about them on all platforms got great views and a lot of interaction.
It’s all about connecting with your audience. Use this weapon smartly for your web portal.
5. Guest blogging and PR.
This is the best way to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. Although it’s not easy to get published in well known web portals, you can definitely start with your own, move towards higher blogs and work your way up to your target web portals.
It requires both patience and smart work. Make a list of the portals you want to target first and find the areas where they lack in. It’s easier to approach them if you already have some reference articles published on your blog.
Write to them directly, with a good cover letter and sample articles and some of them would definitely get back to you.
These blogs may even offer to review and write about your portal for some cash. This is one way to break the ice.
It’s always great to have a third person or blog talking about your product or portal.
6. Go an extra mile to support your audience.
If your users can create something on your web portal, they’re bound to share it with their friends and family. Let your audience market your web portal. They would return the favor if you help them promote their businesses, events etc.
Reach out to local businesses, event managers etc and invite them to post on your web portal. Make the posts shareable and see users flock to you.
You may not want to charge money initially to post, consider this an investment.
7. Focus on key people.
This can be done by introducing your portal to some of the trendsetters of your industry and get your name out in front of the people that matter.
It is just like LinkedIn did it. They approached the top players in various industries and honored them by making them the influencers on their network. This helped them in attracting their respective followers easily.
This also makes your platform much more credible in the eyes of both your audience and PR industry.
8. The Viral Effect
Lastly, let’s discuss how you can get your posts to go viral on the internet.
I had a word with Gauri Lokare, Video Editor for oncars.com and with her experience in the publishing industry, she told me that for anything to go viral on the internet, it has to be ethical, logical and emotional.
It’s all about connecting with your audience. If your post can spur emotions in a reader, he’s likely to share it.
These emotions can both be negative and positive. Emotions like hope, happiness, anger and excitement go a long way.
It's all about intensity. If your post can do that, it’s bound to become viral.
Eg. LOLcats included pictures of cute cats with grammatically incorrect headlines like “Can I has a Cheeseburger?” went all over the internet.
Lastly, the best way to keep your web portal thriving is by caring about your audience and giving them quality content.