Is marketing the only way to spread the word and increase fan following? No.
There are successful businesses that have taken a step aside from conventional marketing and have cultivated fans using engagement tactics. Creating an engaging community is actually probably the best way to improving your fan following and helping your business grow.
Imbibe it in your Culture
Your community should become a part of your company culture. All the employees must be involved in the community and must receive regular updates about it such as comments and latest news every month. The message that your community is your priority should be very clear.
Your community will comment, compliment, and suggest. You should do much more than just go through the feedback and reply in kind. You should take each and every suggestion seriously by analyzing all the good comments and the negative ones.
Of course you are an entrepreneur and you head a company but your communication should be human. Robotic communication will take you nowhere. Many businesses underestimate the power of human communication and that is where everything goes wrong for them. Talk to everyone in the community regularly so that they are confident and can rely on you. Accept praise graciously and be thankful when appreciated. At the same time, accept criticism graciously as well. When you make mistakes, apologize.
Encourage your community members. When you engage with them you will know them better, which is how you can understand their needs. If there is a way that you can help them, you should never shy away. Helping and encouraging can take you and your business a long way.
Even startups have seen success in recent times thanks to these steps. One bright example is Polyvore. It has made it to the top with ease thanks to the importance it gives to its community. It has created a strong community and it nurtures the community really well, which is commendable. You can actually weigh your success based on how successful your community is.
Marketing is an important tool to spread word about your business but there are also other fruitful ways such as building a community and paying attention to it. Taking good care of your community members and taking their comments seriously will definitely reward your business.