The fourth Knowledge Entrepreneur Salon took place on Tuesday, Dec 29 5 PM UTC. 10 people joined the call to increase their knowledge of Audience in conversation.
The audience landscape - public, connections, community
We started off to discuss a definition of the audience landscape:
- Ignorant - the huge majority of people who are completely unaware of you and your creations. This group is still relevant to be named. It includes people matching your target audience and it is worth contemplaiting how to reach them.
- Public - people that get in contact with your work in a form that doesn't require commitment or even intention. This could be people that find your content via search engines. It could be users of a social media platform that see your content or profile as suggestion. It also includes people that are referred to you by someone else and now start exploring your content.
- Connections - this is a subset of the public who made a small but tangible commitment to stay in contact with you. This could be people subscribing to your newsletter or social media account. It could also be people that committed to come to your blog on a weekly basisis to check for updates. These people are actively exploring the possiblity to get value from your creations.
- Community - this is the core part of your audience. People that made a tangible commitment to you and your creations and engaged in some form of value exchange. They could buy a product of yours (monetary investment) or consume a lot of content (time investment). Others may actively engage with you or other community members.
The level of commitment is the most important variable here. It will typically change over time for individual people as their situation will change and so their demand for experts like you.
Should you enable comments in public?
Critics and trolls are typically part of the public. They don't receive value from your offer and have no tangible commitment. Social media platforms present your content to the public and have built-in comment funcitonalities. That's why there is the risk of unproportional amounts of negative feedback.
You have influence on the feedback you receive by enabling different levels of feedback for different audiences. You could deliberately chose not to open up comments on your blog (public) but invite direct replies as feedback in your newsletter (connections) and finally open up free comments and discussions in your community platform.
Haider added the great perspective that some bloggers may limit their feedback channels to nudge readers towards discussing the content in other blogs and social media. Cal Newport has no social media presence because the way he connects with his audience is through his books and his blog. "The point here is that you don't necessarily have to be active on social media or host the conversations yourself. These days your audience will either create spaces or do so on social media without your (the entrepreneur's) active involvement."
On the flip-side, comments are a useful call to action to engage with your audience. We discussed the important of answering to questions and comments of your audience and inviting comments in as many places as possible could help to create these touchpoints. This is a good example that you can tailor the configuration of your stack to your preferences.
Grow an audience like a garden
When Indy shared from his experience that it takes time and patience to grow an audience, we talked about the audience garden metaphor. You don't build an audience, you grow an audience. The mental model of an audience like a garden works very well on different levels:
- People in your audience are living beings, so it should not be a surprise that industrial language, like funnel, doesn't cut it very well.
- Every audience needs a fertile ground. This could be a newsletter, a community platform or social media but there needs to be something as basis.
- As long as you keep creating, audiences grow organically over time even if you don't pay particular attention. People that get value from your creations will share and recommend your work. However, no gardener would leave the growth entirely to itself. It requires a lot of work to build a garden.
- Seeding is a crucial activity when growing an audience. It refers to sharing references to your creations on other platforms or communities. The people that notice your work and follow the honey trail to your platform are like seeds in your garden. Some will stay and some will not.
Explore vs. exploit mode in your audience
This concept is often referred to as the explore-exploit continuum or dilemma. I don't like the term "exploit" in this context at all but for now I stick to it helps to find more about it online. Adapted to your audience it means that some people in your audience are in the process of figuring out whether your content is trustworthy and useful for them. Other people in your audience are already convinced and enjoying your content, returning for the experience that they know and like.
What part of your creations could help your audience in explore mode to evaluate your offer and build up trust? What part of your creations is useful to people that are already convinced and return for the value?
The decreasing value of knowledge and free users
Finally we touched on the topic of decreasing value of knowledge in our connected world. Knowledge is all around and less and less a differentiating factor. This can be explained by the "demonitization" phase of Peter Diamandis' 6Ds of exponential growth (see the video in this article (singularityhub.com) or scroll to the subtitle "Rapid Demonitization" in this article (diamandis.com).
This is no problem for knowledge entrepreneurs as there are many highly valuable demands like transformation, social accountability or personalized content. We'll go deeper into this distinction in our upcoming Salon session on Earning, on Wednesday Jan 6th 2021 🌟.
Evergreen page log
Dec 29 - updated with highlights from the Salon