What's the point of having an audience? Everyone has an audience - a circle of influence. Whether it's a father with his children, a teacher in a classroom, or a social-media guru with his twitter followers, we all have an audience. Building a social media audience, or platform, takes energy and time - two highly valuable forms of capital. Those who are good at it, work hard to cultivate a following. They create meaningful content, and share it in an intentional way that adds value to their audience.
An audience is a very valuable thing. An audience gives you permission to share and engage with people who are passionate about what you're passionate about. An audience helps you spread the story of your brand, and creates opportunities for you to engage with people you'd never be able to reach otherwise.
The people in your audience have give you permission to be a part of their space. They've invited you to tell your story - at a cost to them. In order to be a part of your audience, they've given something up. Perhaps they've simply given up the time it takes for them to read your "tweets," or comment on your Facebook post. But just as likely, they've invested more.
Here's the thing - your audience is a gift. It's not a God-given right. It's a privilege, and it can be revoked at any time.
This weekend, I replied to an uber-rockstar photographer on Twitter. Well, at least that's what this particular photographer thinks about himself. He's someone with a very large audience, and he's pretty smart about leveraging it for his advantage. His audience is mostly photographers, and he writes about succeeding in photography and business. He's written books and even hosts a podcast on the business of photography.
Over the weekend he posted something and I replied. He posted something, and I called him out on it. Apparently since my reply wasn't of the "kneel down and kiss your ring" kind of tweet, I was "blocked." He even took the time to reply to my tweet to let me know I was blocked - as well as letting me know what he thought of me. Ironically, he and I have met. We've had face to face conversations, though I doubt he would remember me.
Here's the thing, if someone who has been a part of your audience for years, someone that has continuously given their time to read and engage with your content, someone that has given you money, calls you out on something - it's not because they're a troll. That doesn't make him or her a "hater." It means that someone in your audience is noticing something. It means they're giving you feedback that might be helpful.
Of course, if you're audience is only about helping yourself, then you probably don't care about what they think. I'm sure it's easy, at some point, to stop thinking about your audience as a collection of individuals that have given you permission to share with them - and start thinking of them as some single entity that exists for your own benefit. Here's the thing:
The moment you stop caring about your audience is the moment you stop deserving one.
This is true for you - no matter what your audience. As a photographer - your clients are your audience. Your network of photographers are your audience. Your peers in the wedding industry are your audience. Sometimes it's easy to think that your audience exists for your benefit. That's when you remind yourself that without your audience, you're really just making a bunch of noise.