Content may be king, but it can’t engage anyone in a vacuum. You can have the best content in the world, but if you don’t have an audience for it, then it’s not helping your brand. And once you do have an audience, it’s crucial to keep building it to reap the full benefits. Here’s why.

A bigger audience means not only more sales and leads but also more awareness and more opportunities to spread your message even further. Think of each member of your audience as a potential ambassador for your brand. When audience members spread the word on social media, they have value for you beyond buying your products; they’re convincing others to become customers too.

But building an audience isn’t about just charging ahead with content to try to get the numbers. Yes, numbers are important, but it’s important to plan carefully so you don’t make the errors that can trip up your brand. When building an audience, common mistakes like these are critical to avoid:

1. Not Defining Your Audience

Think in terms of niches. If you don’t define your target audience, you’ll come across as trying to please everyone or the wrong audience and lose your brand identity, message and sales in the process. That’s why it’s important to build an appropriate audience for your content. For example, if you don’t realize that your market and your audience are largely men who love NASCAR, then creating content about great girls-only getaways won’t resonate with them and will likely confuse consumers.

2. Not Understanding What Your Audience Wants

You might have perfectly targeted your audience, but if you don’t know what kind of content they’re looking for, then your marketing will be ineffective, and you won’t build an audience. Do the research, whether it’s through email surveys, social media analytics, in-person interviews or online communities, before you start creating content to build an audience.

3. Ignoring What Your Audience Wants

If your audience has told you the type of content it wants, but you choose to ignore it because you think you know better, then think again. One of the biggest mistakes marketers, brands and business owners can make is to assume that their audience is exactly like they are and wants to know the same things. Set your ego aside and listen to your audience. If you don’t tailor your content for your audience, they’ll go elsewhere to find what they need.

4. Not Engaging With Your Audience

There’s no better way to find out what type of content your audience wants than by engaging with them. When you ignore feedback on your website or social media, it’s the same as a brick-and-mortar business owner dismissing customers when they try to voice their concerns or feedback in person. The difference is that word of mouth travels faster and wider online and can quickly snowball. You have a wealth of data in your audience just waiting to be mined for your brand’s benefit. You’ll add more audience members by interacting with those that you already have to find out what your existing customers want.

5. Lack of Consistency with Content

Keep the content coming on a regular basis, and keep the quality high. If your content seems to have dropped off the face of the earth or decreased in quality, then your audience might assume your brand has too. Not only will it be difficult to attract new audience members, but you’ll lose current ones too.

6. Not Having a Content Strategy

Having a vision is not the same thing as having a strategy. Marketers naturally want customers to like and share their content until it goes viral, but you need to map out how you’re going to get there and be realistic about it with a step-by-step strategy for your content so that you can use it to build that devoted audience of your dreams.

7. Not Having Goals to Work Toward

An important part of your strategy in building an audience should be your goals. If you don’t have goals in place, no one will know what to work towards, including you. Do you want to grow your social media following or build your email list by a certain percentage this year? Having measurable goals for growing your audience will help point you in the direction you want to go.

8. Not Promoting Your Content

You can’t just rely on your current audience to spread the word about your content and your brand. Promote your content by pulling out snackable bits called snippets for social media platforms like Facebook or tweets for Twitter. Send your content to influencers and others with similar content. Get quotes from industry experts and other influencers to include in your content, and name them when you share it.

9. Posting Inaccurate Content

If your content is riddled with errors or information that’s outdated or just plain wrong, then it goes without saying that it’ll reflect poorly on your brand. Build trust with your audience by properly fact checking any information before you post it and making sure it’s evergreen or updated as needed.

10. Not Leveraging Analytics and Data

If you have goals but don’t track them, then you’re defeating the purpose of having them in the first place. Use data and analytics to stay on track, find out the types of content that perform best and make changes when necessary. These stats can help you determine who your audience is and what kind of content they like best.

11. Not Using SEO to Reach Your Audience

To build your audience, don’t make the common mistake of ignoring what SEO can do for you. Perform an SEO audit to see what changes you need to make, such as ensuring that consumers can find your content on search engines by using the right keywords, meta descriptions and title tags.

12. Not Optimizing for the Right Devices

You should optimize your content for the devices that your audience uses. For instance, if your audience spends most of its time on mobile devices, then make sure your content is optimized for mobile. Content that’s difficult to navigate or see on a cell phone won’t win you many new fans.

13. Not Using the Right Platforms

After you’ve defined your audience, research the demographics of different platforms to see where the best fits are. If you’ve discovered that your audience makes most of its purchases on Facebook, then don’t hide all of your juicy content exclusively on your website. You won’t build your audience as successfully as you can by putting content where they won’t see it.

14. Creating Content That’s Too Sales-Oriented

Yes, you want to be transparent with what you’re doing, but if your content seems to be screaming, “Buy, buy, buy!” then you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Content should be valuable and beneficial to your audience so that it engages them and helps you build a relationship with them. It should give them information they want or need that helps them to do something related to your product or service, or it should entertain them so that they have a positive impression of your brand.

15. Not Repurposing Effective Content

If content has performed well in building an audience for one platform, then there’s no reason not to repurpose it for others. For instance, if a video gets a lot of likes and shares on Instagram, then be sure to put it on YouTube and Facebook too. Tailor your content appropriately for different platforms, and gauge how its performance varies across platforms.

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