Building an Online Community: The 5 Steps to Success

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Crush It!" by Gary Vaynerchuk. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Is it better to have millions of followers or to have a small community? What are the steps for building an online community?

According to Gary Vaynerchuk in Crush It!, it’s better to build a small, loyal community around your business than to have tons of mildly interested followers. He provides five steps you need to keep repeating in order to grow your following.

Keep reading to learn how to build your online community.

Building Your Online Community

With good content, you can build the audience you need to be able to monetize your brand. Vaynerchuk notes that, when it comes to creating community, quality beats quantity: A few loyal, engaged fans are likely to draw more followers than a large crowd of passive subscribers. (Shortform note: When it comes time to monetize your brand, many advertisers also recognize the value of quality over quantity. A 2017 report on influencer marketing revealed that “micro-influencers” with narrow niches and devoted audiences of 10,000 to 1 million followers often drive more traction than celebrity endorsements.)

The 5 Steps

After you’ve created and posted some content, Vaynerchuk provides step-by-step instructions for building an online community. Repeat these steps continually to consistently grow your audience. 

  1. Search the keywords for your niche on each social media platform and join active groups and forums related to your topic. (Shortform note: When using keywords, be specific with niche keywords, which are strings of three or more words specific to your niche—for example, instead of searching “fitness,” try “high-intensity cardio workout.” Although this will narrow your search results, it will connect you with a highly targeted audience. For the same reason, be sure to use these niche keywords in your content.)
  2. Read what people are saying about your topic, what they’re interested in, and what they like and don’t like. This is invaluable data for your own content creation and outreach efforts. (Shortform note: Beyond skimming groups and forums on the social media platforms where you plan to post, you can also search Reddit, set up Google Alerts for your keywords, check Google Trends, use Social Mention, and browse your competitors’ content.)
  3. Engage in the conversation. Make insightful, knowledgeable comments on content and other comments. Be sure to include your name and a link to your blog, vlog, or podcast. (Shortform note: You can gain even more visibility—and credibility—by writing a guest blog for another brand’s website.)
  4. Turn your audience into followers with entertaining, insightful content and attention-grabbing call-to-action buttons, like “Subscribe” and “Follow me.” (Shortform note: In Vaynerchuk’s 2013 book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, he argues that your content should include a mix of “jabs,” posts that solely entertain and strengthen your connection with your audience, and “right hooks,” which include a call-to-action.)
  5. Engage with your audience. Show that you recognize and appreciate them by addressing them in your content. You can even include subtle messages and inside jokes that only your loyal fans will pick up on. (Shortform note: Additionally, engaging with your Instagram followers will trigger the algorithm to show them your posts more often.)
Building an Online Community: The 5 Steps to Success

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Gary Vaynerchuk's "Crush It!" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Crush It! summary:

  • Step-by-step instructions for building and monetizing a personal brand
  • How to quit your day job and earn a living off your brand
  • Why a few loyal followers are better than a crowd of passive subscribers

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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