How to Build Online Community

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By Rob Eagar

If you want to build a following, especially online, the key is to position yourself as someone who is worth following. The best way to attract a large group is by becoming an object of interest, which means the ability to draw people to you by dent of your expertise or charismatic personality. 

For instance, celebrities in our society, such as actors, reality TV stars, musicians, athletes, bestselling authors, and politicians, are considered objects of interest, because people are fascinated by their glamorous lifestyle, eccentric behavior, or award-winning achievements. Likewise, intellectual experts, such as scientists, doctors, lawyers, ministers, reporters, and counselors, can also be objects of interest, because of their ability to help people discover new information or overcome personal challenges.

People won't become your fan unless you give them a clear reason. I know this sounds obvious, but it's that's simple. If you're engaging in social media and struggling to build a growing community, then people probably don't regard you as interesting. You're lost in the mix of more appealing authors who are getting attention. So, your goal should be to magnify the best parts of your book and your author expertise. Use your strengths to make people want to stay connected with you. For example, below is a list of ways to attract a following based on the genre of books that you write:

  1. Non-fiction advice, how-to, textbooks: Deliver clear answers to common problems.
  2. Biographies, reference: Provide insight into historical or current events.
  3. Fiction, romance, chick-lit: Generate intense feelings of emotion or passion.
  4. Gift books, children's, religious: Serve as a constant source of encouragement.
  5. Memoirs, comedy: Supply a unique sense of humor and wit.
  6. Science fiction, young adult, crime: Create a feeling of fear, wonder, or suspense.
  7. Business, political commentary: Express counter-intuitive opinions that challenge status quo.

This list is just a sample of the diverse ways that any fiction or non-fiction author could draw attention to their name and their books. I go into a lot more detail on this topic in my new book, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire. You might choose to rely on one approach build interest. Or, you could combine several styles to help capture an audience. The point is to establish yourself as someone who is interesting and genuinely worth following. You don't have to change your personality. Rather, be yourself. But, give people a reason to like you, respect your skills, and want more of who you are.

About the Author

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Rob Eagar is the founder of WildFire Marketing, a consulting practice that helps authors and publishers sell more books and spread their message like wildfire. He has assisted numerous New York Times bestselling authors and his new book, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, will be published by Writer’s Digest in June, 2012. Find out more about Rob’s advice, products, and coaching services for authors at: