There is a lot of information online. There are a lot of people online. You need a plan to stand out from the crowd. Social media marketing, blogging and content marketing are fundamentally about the same thing. They are word of mouth marketing but with new tools. They are about establishing yourself as the expert online, making sure people you know you are the right choice and becoming an authority on a particular product, service or industry.
Here are 5 ways to establish yourself as an authority online, for your business.
- Stay on topic – Yes, we want to do business with people we like. Yes, we want a personality behind a brand. What we want most though, is to know your service is the absolute best choice. We want to know we can trust you and that you will provide for us. Unfortunately when people begin participating in social media sites for their business, after some time their message gets diluted. They begin writing about lots of topics and not just about their business. In most cases, this just clouds your message. Make sure people know by the content you publish online, what you are an expert on.
A good test is to go to your Twitter account and see what Twitter lists people have categorized you under. If all the lists are in and around your industry and business, you are doing a good job staying on message. If the lists are more sporadic and name you as an ERP expert, dog lover, whiskey connoisseur, Disney fan and small business expert – perhaps you are mixing up your messaging and confusing your audience.
- Post often – Creating content is hard work but it may be the best thing you can do to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Show people your knowledge, your network and your worth. They will believe you more with content to back it up versus just your word that you are an expert.
A blog post, tweet or status update doesn’t have to be 100% original content. Feel free to respond to someone else’s content. Embed a video on your blog and write your reaction to it. Summarize (with appropriate credit given) someone’s blog post or a news article and add your input, your side of the story or more resources for those who want more information on a given topic.
- Learn to say ‘no’ and refer your network – Sometimes being an authority means knowing what you are NOT an authority on. A Jack of all trades is a master of none. You don’t have to know everything about everything. Refine what it is you are an expert in. Perhaps outline a message map of topics in and around that space that you can and will produce content about.
If you don’t have an answer, it would be useful if you knew the person that did. Refer someone in your network to answers on topics that are outside of your realm. We are as powerful as our network. Don’t be afraid to promote other people that may know more about a given topic than you do.
- Talk about pain points and solutions, not products – By using social media and blogs to reach current and potential clients we need to talk about the things people are searching for. Then, hopefully they will find your content (not your competitors). Publish content about what your potential customers’ pain points are, not just about your products. A person who needs a drill isn’t looking for a drill; they are looking for a hole. The drill will help them.
Prove to your audience that you understand their needs and have a possible solution to help them. People are researching information all the time online for answers to questions they have, not for features of products.
- Provide value often – Chris Brogan talks about personal branding in his book Trust Agents and in a recent blog post. As a man who has built a strong personal brand, Chris knows a thing or two about branding yourself as an expert. His biggest piece of advice is on ‘being there and being there often’. Make sure people know you are responsive, will be at their events, adding value to the conversation and more.
Share your knowledge with your network. Let them share it and build upon it. We are all busy so set up a schedule of when you are going to post to your blog, create an eBook/whitepaper, host a webinar – whatever it is that shows you are an expert and are willing to share your knowledge with your network.
No one said this was going to be easy and no one else can do this for you. In social media, especially in the B2B space, one of the best things you can do to ensure success is establish yourself as an authority in your niche. As we show potential and current customers that we are the expert in our space we, in turn, lower their potential buying risk and they come to us when they are in a position to make a purchasing decision.
photo credit: webtreat