I have 16 ways that you can build a big, engaged and loyal buying community. This is going to be a bit of a deep dive post and a podcast episode. I’m in a very fortunate position with my Supporters Programme and the Stars feature that I’ve just launched very recently. To be getting really good advice from people who work in Facebook very high up the chain, and good access to people who work very closely with LinkedIn. I know many people who are very big influencers now. I feel like, I’m really getting some deep insight and Intel into what it takes to build a really good engaged loyal community.
I’ve been asked a lot to share how do I build my community, my following, my tribe, how do you get people engaged.
16 ways to build a big engaged loyal buying community
The first thing by the way, is that, with Kieran and I when we were talking to someone who works very high up at Facebook, probably one below the Vice-President of Marketing. This is big. And we asked her, why did you choose me for the Supporters Programme? Why did you choose me for the Stars Programme. I don’t know how many Supporters Programme influencers there are that run that. They’re still in beta testing mode. But it can’t be that many. I’d say hundreds out of over a billion Facebook users. It’s pretty significant.
With the Stars feature, there’s only 20 in the whole world. We ask them why did you choose me. She said 2 reasons. One, engaged following. Two, loyal following. What she didn’t say, is, size of following. What she didn’t say, was, being a big celebrity or the biggest influencer. She said engage following and loyal following.
I think you’d all agree following me, we have a really great loyal engaged following. I felt like I know many of you personally, even if we’ve only actually met on the livestreams or through the messages you’ve sent me in the podcast, et cetera. So, this was really good Intel. I think this should be good news for you. Because I think a lot of us worry that our following isn’t big enough. We want a big following. Why don’t we have a massive following?
I don’t care how many followers you have. If you have 100 or 1,000 or a million, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what you do. So I’m going to cover the 16 ways to build a big engaged loyal community. I am going to shout-out to everyone who sends me stars, by the way. So, sorry, if that takes a bit of time. But that’s part of you being part of my community.
No.1 Being on the platforms
A community online is based on being on 2-way platforms. Some of them are one way. For example, podcast is pretty much one way, isn’t it? But I think that you want to be on all the platforms. I think this is really important. Because yes, you could focus on one platform and build a really engaged loyal community on the one platform. But I believe, if you have multiple platforms, you’re seen by multiple people. People can join across platform, and you can promote across platform. You can reach a much wider audience.
Wouldn’t you agree, for example, that the people who are in LinkedIn are very different from the people on TikTok. I mean, that’s a really different demographic. I think the first thing, is, to set up on all the social platforms. It takes a bit of time, not much. Get your outsourcer to do it. LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, Facebook Page, Facebook Group, YouTube, Patreon, and then if you can get the Stars and the Supporters functionality. As soon as I know how I can get you to get that, I’ll share that with you. Make sure you’re on all the platforms.
Then what I believe you do, is, you focus on a couple that you think are going to give you the best leverage. When it comes to communities, i.e., an assumed closed group, I believe that Facebook Groups are the best. They’re like the older version of the online forum. The way you’d have individual platforms that would run forums, whether it’s on WordPress or wherever. But because so many people use Facebook now, Facebook Groups are huge.
If you don’t have your own, after this podcast, you want to immediately go and set yourself up your own Facebook Group. I have one called, The Disruptive Entrepreneur Community with nearly 18,000 entrepreneurs. I have one called, The Progressive Property Community with nearly 26,000 property investors. I have a few other groups, an ecommerce one, which has nearly 21,000. And I have been building them up over the years. By the way, just so you know, and you’re probably thinking this. Each time I set them up, I’m like ah, man, I should have done this earlier. Is it too late? Ah, I set this up, and I’ve got 5 people in the community. Huh, this is a bit of a labour of love to get it started. But it doesn’t matter. Start now, get perfect later.
I believe Facebook Groups are the best for building communities. Next best, is probably, having a Facebook Page, being able to do livestreams. Because the great thing about this livestream I do with Facebook, is that, I can see you all. I can see your comments. I can engage with you. I can call you out, shout you out, comment with you. I can read your comments. You can private message me. I can read the messages.
It’s not just a one-way thing. A podcast is a bit of a one-way thing. But I’ll come to this. I think the communities that are going to get the best engagement and the most loyal following, and ultimately bias for you, are, the ones that are 2-way, the ones that are engaged, where the followers can get involved too. Of course, most social media platforms where comments area enabled like Instagram, LinkedIn, Patreon to a certain degree definitely YouTube, that can be 2-way. But you’ve got to go in and comment. You’ve got to go and engage. I’ll come to that in a moment.
You choose the ones that are best for you and your business type. LinkedIn is great, because it doesn’t restrict the reach so you can get massive reach on LinkedIn like no other. But it’s probably not as closed and engaged as a group.
I give you an example. On this Page, which you’re watching, if you’re watching the live, I have 139,000 followers. At the moment, I get between 6 and 10,000 views per video. So, the reach is normally 2 to 3 times that. My reach might be 15,000, 20,000, 25,000 out of nearly 140,000. But it often would get more reach in one of my groups that has say, 25,000. Or, I’ll get more reach on LinkedIn, which has 70,000 odd. But I can get millions of views or reach on LinkedIn. So, the reach game is individual compared to each platform.
No.2 Continuous content marketing
I know a lot of people think this is a labour of love. Or, they can’t be bothered. Or, they haven’t got time. Or, they’re overwhelmed. I have to do content regularly. People think that hard work and passion, they are the secrets to success. I’m actually going to argue that consistency is more important.
I don’t care, if you’re doing a video a day, or a video a week. I just care that you are increasing your volume consistently. So, if you’re on one a month, get to one a week. If you’re on one a week, get to 3 a week. If you’re on 3 a week, get to one a day. If you’re on one a day, get to 2 a day. If you’re on 2 a day, get to 5 a day. Not necessarily 5 a day per platform. But by the way, some of the biggest influencers in the world are 8 and 9 a day per platform. Now they have teams, and they repurpose. I’m not just saying, you have to do live after another, after another, after another.
But I definitely have noticed that I’m getting more reach, more exposure, more loyalty, more engagement, and more organic followers. On some platforms I’m getting 200-300 organic new followers a day. Sometimes, we can get 600-800 a day across platform depending on what’s going on. Minimum I’m probably getting 1,200 to 1,500 new organic followers a week. That’s not including my email database. That’s just LinkedIn, and Instagram, and YouTube, and Facebook. I’ve noticed that goes up, the more posts I do, and the more content marketing I do.
There does come a limit. For me, once we’ve got more than one a day on LinkedIn, that didn’t seem to help the reach. But 2 or 3 a day on Facebook certainly has, and of course, if you’re in different groups, then you can do more. What you have to do with this, is, just manage your time, and compartmentalise it into your diary.
You might have noticed through this holiday season, I’ve been going live at 8:40 and 8:45 most mornings. I went live at 8:00 pm last night. You mostly see me in non-holiday season going live at 8:30 am. You probably know in your head consistently that Rob is going to be doing a live at 8:30, not 8:45, not 8:15, but 8:30. And you know that I’m going to do those most days.
In fact, some people even say to me, when I don’t do them. Rob, what’s happened? Have you died? Where are your lives? I need them in my life. I need my caffeine. Consistent continual content marketing. I don’t want to hear excuses. Oh, I can’t do it. Oh, I haven’t got time. Oh, I haven’t got the content. Just put it in the diary, same time, same day. Don’t worry, if you get to 5 a week, when you’ve planned 7. It doesn’t matter. Just do it. And you’ll find that once you’ve built a bit of a momentum, it’ll get easier, and easier, and easier. You’ll also find that once you get a better result, you’ll get this virtuous feedback loop, where you’ll feel motivated, because you’re getting results. And that is really important.
The next thing with your content marketing, is, you want to make it specific to your tribe. The great thing about the more content you do, the more you understand your tribe, the more you engage with them, the more they feedback to you what they want. Then you feed it back to them. This content is a great example. The reason I’m doing this, is because in the last week, I’ve been asked quite a lot of times by quite a few people that they want me to do content on building a loyal community.
No.3 Don’t just post and run
Point 3 of the 16 ways to build a big engaged loyal community, is, don’t just post and run. A lot of people are doing this. They are posting in different groups. They’re posting in their social media, and then they’re gone. Yes, that’s a better leverage of your time, but that’s not an engaged community, that’s a one-way community. And actually, there are a lot of really big celebrities and famous people who could have way more engaged following.
There’s this one person who’s on Dragons’ Den, who’s got about 2.9 million more followers than me. And all of his posts are way less engaged than mine, because he posts and then doesn’t go back and engage. He may not deem it’s worth his time. But you can have an outsourcer to help you although I try and do most of this myself. But what you want to do, is, post and then engage in the comments.
No.4 Engage with the people
If you engage with your community. You call them out. You reply to their comments. You thank them. Then they will be more likely to engage. They become this virtuous cycle. They feel more involved. You show gratitude. They show gratitude. Many people often say things like, wow, I can’t believe Rob replies. Wow, I can’t believe Rob called me up. So, they’re often very surprised for the people that they follow, because they often hold you in very high regard.
Also, for the algorithms, the more engagement in your posts, the wider your posts will go. And your comments count. As long as there’s 6, 7, 8 words, and not just thank you, thank you, then your comments count to increase the reach in your algorithms. It also serves you. So, don’t just post and run. Engage with your followers. Show them gratitude. Show loyalty to them when they show loyalty to you.
No.5 Include people in your community
I get that the very big famous celebrities are busy. But I’m always gobsmacked at how uninvolved they are in their Instagram posts or their social media. They literally just post, and it looks like it’s clearly done by someone else, and they’re not involved. Okay, it’s good for leverage. But I don’t think it’s good, if you want to build an engaged loyal, hungry, buying, big community.
Include them so that can be shouting them out. Call out people who are involved in your communities, who take the time to comment, who take the time to sit and watch your videos on a daily basis. Don’t take that for granted. Include them. Shout them out with Stars Programme. I’ve been letting people share their web addresses, and share their podcast, and share their books, if they hit me up with some stars. I’m trying to include you as much as I can. I think this is really important. Give random acts of kindness. Give random gifts to your community members for tuning in live.
No.6 Give your best content
No. 6 of 16 ways to build a big engaged loyal buying community, is, for your most active engaged communities, the communities you want to build, give them content first. Give them your best content. Give them exclusive content. Give them bonuses that other people don’t get. Give them gifts, et cetera so that you reward them, so that you train them that they may get staff joining your lives. By the way, some people say to me, hey Rob, I don’t want the bonuses and the gifts. That’s very nice. I just give you stars. I tune in, because your content is really good. It’s a way to show gratitude. That’s also cool. But that has to do with your content as well.
No.7 Reply to private messages
Reply to private messages. Do one-to-one calls. Have some personal elements to what you do. I saw David Goggins over the festive period. He said private message me, request call with me, and I’ll call you over the festive period. I thought that was awesome he did that. I’d been doing that for 5 years. But someone who’s as big as David Goggins, I thought what a great thing to do. On my livestream, where I launched the stars feature yesterday. I’ve given 10 people. There’s actually about 15 that have ended up taking the upside. I’ll just give 15. I’m going to do one-to-one calls. So, then between now and New Year.
The more involved and personal you can be, the more loyal community you will build. And I have found, by the way, when I do calls, one-to-one, 15 minutes that I give for free. I’d never said, oh, there’s no ulterior motive other than to help as much as I can. But I have consistently found with those calls, they end up becoming bias. And I’ve never even talk about my product or service. They just become bias. I think, because there’s a gratitude cycle. I think, because it makes me a real person, not a bog.
A lot of people you private message on Facebook, you get an automated bog. Well, you know it’s me. I think that just being personal in this world, where everything is automated, I think makes a huge difference. As much as you can, be personal. Be personal now. I can do 2 hours a day. I can’t do 10 hours a day. It’s just the reality of it. I do what I can, when I can. I feel like I do my bit.
No.8 Incentivise people to follow you on different platforms
Don’t just have them follow you on Facebook. Get them to download your podcast. Get them to join you your Facebook Group. Get them to follow you on YouTube. Get them to follow you on LinkedIn. Get them to join in your WhatsApp Group, et cetera.
What I do on a rolling basis, maybe, every month or 2 per platform, is, I’ll create a new special bonus, and I’ll give you that in exchange for following me on YouTube, or my podcast, or on Instagram, or joining a Facebook Group, or for giving me stars, or for joining my Supporters Programme. I’ve found that incentive based cross promotion of platforms, grows all the platforms and creates a deeper community.
I used to resist doing that in the early days, because I thought, ah, people don’t want to follow me on all platforms. If they follow me on one, that’s enough. But here’s the thing. Most people don’t see your post on most platforms, because on Facebook, you might get 3 to 5 percent reach. On LinkedIn, you might get 10 percent reach. So, you assume someone, when they’re following you, sees all of your content. They don’t. Most people don’t.
If you’re on multiple platforms, you have more chance of them seeing you. Then if you time lapse your content across different platforms so you don’t just put the same content on the platform carte blanche. Then different people will get content at different times.
No.9 Ask people to do things for you
I know this seems counterintuitive to some. But the law of reciprocity works both ways. Whereas, if you do things for people, they will do things for you. But if you ask people to do things for you, they will often become more connected to you.
I ask people to share my work. I ask people to comment on my posts. I ask people to leave reviews. If people private message me saying, hey, I’ve read your book. I always ask them to leave a review. If they feel like they’ve done something to me, they feel that they’ve given. Because you all know how great it feels to give. And often, we’re doing it in the other way. We’re giving, but why don’t we ask people to give, and give them the gift of giving.
If you wouldn’t mind doing that now, we’ll do a little example. So, would you mind sharing this please on your social media? I’m told that 25 shares, is, equal to a reach of one million. I think there are some variables in that. But I was told that by someone very high up in Facebook. If you ask your community to do things for you. I think they’re going to become more loyal and more engaged.
No.10 Do face-to-face meet-ups
People are forgetting this now with online and social media, but why don’t you do some associated face-to-face meet-ups as part of your online communities. With the Supporters Programme, we do loads of meet-ups. We do socials. We do dinners. If I’m speaking at an event, I’ll do a big discount for my supporters. We’ll meet up before, or meet up after. I do supporters only events. When you actually meet people face-to-face, having known them on social media for a while, you’d obviously get deeper connection, rapport, engagement. And I find that once you’ve looked into the whites of their eyes, there’s a deeper connection and rapport.
My really good friend, Jake Wood who’s got a brilliant podcast, Pound for Pound. Him and his co-host, Spencer Oliver who is an ex-boxing champion, they are going and doing a podcast tour. I’m going to do a podcast tour when the time is right for me. I like to do lots of events linked to my social media communities, because I just think it creates a deeper connection.
No.11 Have clear consistent guidelines
Have clear consistent guidelines, and make sure that you balance your promotion with their ability to promote, and their ability to receive and give value. Some people, they have no rules on their social media. And it’s a free for all, it becomes a spam fest. Some people have too many rules, where you can’t breathe without getting banned. You don’t really get any benefit other than just appeasing the ego of the influencer, or just them selling all the time.
I try and create fair exchange somewhere in the middle. Of course, I would like my community to buy all my stuff. If you’re feeling somewhat grateful or somewhat guilty that I’ve given you so much content over the years, and you want to give back to me, then buy all my stuff, by all means. And that’s okay, because I’m running a business just like everybody else. But if I sell too much, it’s going to piss you off. If I don’t sell enough, I can’t sustain growing a business. My overheads are over £700,000 a month. And that’s not including my personal expenses.
Obviously, there’s a commercial element. That’s okay. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But you’ve got to balance this. I have rules on my social media. I let people share their links for their books, and their podcasts and their websites, if they give me stars, if you want to shout-out on this video. Hit me with some stars, I’ll let you do a shout-out.
In my Facebook Groups, I let you share your links and do your promotion, but only in the specific threads, and not in the main feed, because, otherwise that will overpopulate and end up just becoming a spam fest and no one gets value. We let people do lives. Other people don’t. But if I see people do lives, and they pitch the post, they’ll get removed. They’ll get warned.
What you want, is, equity and fair exchange, i.e., you give value – they get value. You can be commercial. They can be commercial. But they can’t be too commercial. So, they become a spam fest, or they can’t be too commercial that they end up competing with you.
No.12 The 80/20 content rule
That is 80 percent of your posts on your communities should be value and content based on what your communities want and need, based on their feedback and your understanding of your niche and your experience. About 80 percent so 4 out of 5, or 8 out of 10 posts. They can be livestream, pre-records. They can be articles, blogs. They can be pre-recorded videos, et cetera.
And then I reckon 20 percent covers everything else. Within that 20 percent, I reckon some should be personal posts, a bit about you, what you’re up to. I did a post, about some of the things that happen in one of my therapy sessions, which were quite revelatory to me. That was a very personal video, which has been, by the way, I think, my highest viewed video of the year, certainly in pound for pound. They say pound for pound fighter is the best in the world. Well, day for day, time for time, pound for pound that’s been my highest reaching, biggest video on Facebook of the year.
Yes, there was content in there, but it wasn’t, really. It was really a personal share. So, personal shares and what you’re up to, and maybe, a bit of engagement jacking and making some commentary stuff on the news or creating engagement with a question or a debate triggering post. That will be 20 percent of your post of your content. And I reckon that’s a good rule of thumb to balance value with engagement. And then in that 20 percent, you can make the odd pitch.
I’d probably only pitch one in 40 to one in 50 pieces of content, which is, not a lot. I should probably pitch more. I guess I’m not really money focussed at the moment as much as maybe, I’d could or I should be. And certainly, over the last holiday period, I’m not.
No.13 Critics and the haters
Point 13 of the 16 ways to build a big engaged loyal buying community, is, involving and handling and dealing with the critics and the haters. This is a really big one. Many people delete the critic’s commentary or they get really upset, they start to panic, they hide in their shell, they fight back angrily when they get critics, trolls, haters, wankers. They don’t know how to handle them very well. And I get it, because it’s emotional. But I believe you should very much include the critics in your community.
In fact, if you want a deep dive on this, I’ve done a couple of episodes on my podcast about dealing with them, and what situations you engage with them, have banter, delete, block, respond, et cetera. Because it really actually depends. It’s not a one size fits all.
But what I would say, is, if you get a critical comment in your community, you absolutely want it. You want them to expand on it. You want to embrace it. You want to create a conversation on it, and ideally, a bit of polarisation and a bit of controversy, because that will get you way more comments. Then that will really grow your reach. Don’t be scared of them. Don’t delete them. Of course, if they absolutely troll you to a point where it’s defamatory, or it hurts you, yes, you can delete it.
If you post, and then you get critics on there, that is a great gift. That will help the algorithms way more than your fans, because that will create more commentary. Your fans will often go and reply and defend you, and therefore, you’ll get this virtuous cycle of loads of comments. Therefore, your reach will go wild. I love to embrace the critics.
You can see people actually quite like that. They like that I can handle it with a bit of humour and handle it well. It shows I’ve got a thick skin, and a lot of people made that kind of comment. That’s a waste. It’s a waste of a really good post. If you don’t share it, and you delete it, and you cry about it.
Involve them where possible, until it becomes bullying or defamation. And that’s something else and serious, you may need to report that, block that, ban that. Or, even worse, but that’s another time for another day. But don’t turn a critic into a hater by acting like a twat, or really going at them angrily. Ask them to expand, explain, create a polarised debate. Thank them for their feedback, and you will get a really good results. By the way, often you’d turn those critics into fans, because you didn’t turn. Most people are turning critics into haters who weren’t haters. They were critics. But they turn them, because they don’t know how to handle them. So, it’s great for engagement, great for getting more reach in your posts.
This is a vital component most people don’t get. Crowdsourcing is asking you for your ideas. What content do you want from me on my podcast and on my lives? What bonuses do you want me to offer on my Supporters Programme? What would you like in exchange for giving me stars?
By the way, it’s okay to tell me all of these things, because I am here, and I will listen. Most of the time, my ego is unaffected. On the little moment that it is, I’d probably sit in the corner like a little child for a few minutes, and then I’d talk myself around. Don’t ever be afraid to give me feedback. I’m always grateful for, even if in the moment, I’m a bit weh. Most of my community are lovely. You know how to give it in the right way. But even if you’re a bit pissed off with me, I know that you don’t hate me. You just hate me in the moment. I want the feedback.
By the way, my book titles, my book content, all the bonuses I’d given in the Supporters Programme and the Stars Programme and all the courses I have created, which are, hundreds and tens of millions of pounds, in fact more than £100 million I’d made in the last sort of 12 years plus, I would say, 70 percent of that has come from you’d given me feedback, telling me what you want, me engaging with you, us discussing the trends, the courses and the material that you want and need to help you grow your business, start it and scale it. And then me giving it back to you. That is a vital element of creating an engaged loyal buying community.
If you think about risk as well, if I create a product, or a service, or a programme, and I’m all excited about it. But I have no idea that it’s going to work. I just think it is. I’m all excited therefore, I’m probably a bit delusional, that’s a massive risk to put money, and time, and effort into that, and it might bomb.
Whereas, if I’ve already done polls in my communities, crowdsourced the ideas, run competitions, got your suggestions, and hundreds of thousands of people had said, hey Rob, I want this and virtually no one has said, Rob, I want that. And I launch this, and not that, I’ve completely de-risk. I’ve got an 80-90 percent of chance that it’s going to fly. And that’s why many of my books have been successful, not just because of the content, but because I already know most of my communities want it. Because I’ve got you involved in the concept. I’ve got you involved in the content. I’ve got you involved in the title. This has been a huge part of growing and scaling my business, and taking on trends, and evolving, and thriving, when other people struggled, or they’re just sort of barely surviving.
Consistency of all of the following content I’ve shared with you. Persistence is important. But so is patience. I’m going to remind you about what the 14 were. Consistency is vital. You will make mistakes. It will not always work. You will feel demotivated and deflated. You will have moments of drought, of inspiration. But you’ve got to just keep at it. It’s not about hard work. It’s about consistent work.
Let’s be honest. Do a live feed is not hard work. It’s fun work. I’m sitting here in my living room, enjoying myself with you. It’s not hard work, but it’s consistent work. But I have to do it regularly, if I want to get the engagement, and the response, and the amount of shares and comments and stars that I might be after.
No.16 Public speaking
Lives are great. The building online communities are great on all these different platforms. But actually, getting out there, public speaking. Speak in front of an audience. Start with 10, then 20, then 50, then 100. Before you know it, you will be doing speeches for thousands of people.
I’ve done about 1,350 speeches. But I did most of those to the preceding 4 years. And then I sort of semi-retired, because I’ve got probably 20-30 really good trainers. We do 850 training courses a year. And I only did 20 or 30 of them last year. But actually now, my kids are a bit more grown up, I’ve kind of got the bug again. So, I’m doing a lot more keynotes. I usually do them for 500 plus people. But it depends on the event. But I’m speaking at some great events next year. I’m going to do a lot more of that. By the way, you get seen by big event promoters. You get seen by really important people.
I’d say, consistent live videos, and go and do public speeches, is, what gets you seen by celebrities, and JV partners, and promoters across the world. That will really help grow your personal brand and build a big engaged loyal buying community.