Social Media

How to position yourself as an authority via social media

One of the biggest benefits of social media is that it’s relatively easy to position yourself as an authority figure. Being the go-to guy when people have a problem or question is a great way to get more recommendations, establish yourself as an influential person in a particular industry, and build up your reputation.

Becoming a leader instead of a follower will open up all kinds of doors and opportunities, and social media is a key aspect to it for web designers, developers, SEOs, copywriters and other web creatives. Here are some tips to help you get started.

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Be the one answering the questions

Many people assume they need to ask general questions to lead a conversation and get noticed on social media. In fact, being the person who answers the questions is much more beneficial in establishing an authority position. It takes a bit longer to see any difference, but the results are long-lasting and you avoid the potential pitfall of being the annoying one who always asks the questions.

If you don’t know the answer to a question you’re asked directly, just be honest and point the person in the right direction if you can.

Ask questions for the purpose of engaging

Although asking questions can be a bit of a minefield, asking the right questions in the right situations help you establish yourself as interesting and inspirational. The key is to ask opinion-based questions so you don’t destroy your growing reputation as someone who is knowledgeable in the industry. Asking for opinions on a slightly off-topic basis (for example, asking for the best to-do list app when you’re a web designer) doesn’t threaten your position but still gets people interacting with you and feeling good because they can help.

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For best results, avoid asking very broad or open questions which require a lot of thought and effort to answer. Remember to use questions sparingly and structure them carefully – your followers and fans don’t want to feel like they’re in school!

Share useful, fresh content on a regular basis

This is the easiest way to establish yourself as an authority via social media, and has the added advantage of helping you attract very targeted followers who are interested in what you post. Most industries have relevant articles, surveys and research published on a regular basis, and web industries in particular have thousands of useful and relevant pieces published online every day.

To streamline the process, set up a series of websites to track using Google Reader, and combine this tactic with scheduled tweets to streamline the process even further. Remember not to schedule tweets too frequently, and check your social media channels regularly so you can respond to any comments or questions.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

It’s tempting to set up camp on a number of different social networks, particularly if you’re seeing success with one. However, different approaches need to be used for different networks, and it can be quite difficult to replicate success, especially when you introduce more and more networks. There’s no problem with testing them out, but stick to the two or three that you see the most success with.

If you use social media for business, it can be hard to decide whether to stick with the network that makes the most money, or the one which has the most followers and engagement. Try to find a good balance, and avoid posting the same things on the same networks to encourage people to follow you across different channels.

Interact, interact, interact

Try to interact with people on the same or lower level than you influence-wise. Those who are highly popular are unlikely to respond to everyone and will instead only recognise those in their ‘inner circle’. Many people assume you have to be in with the ‘in crowd’ or part of an established elite to be an authority; that’s not true. Developing your own following is much easier and will scale over time if you’re consistent and effective in your approach.

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To do this, start by talking to people on your level….and continue doing it! Many people are surprised when they come back from a holiday and find they don’t have many/any social network notifications. For the most part, this is because social media works in an addictive cycle of posting and responding. Breaking the cycle by removing yourself from the equation kills it pretty quickly, so it’s important to be active in responding to people and kicking off conversations.

Provide value

If you’re using social media for business, keep sales messages to a minimum and never repeat the same content in a post or tweet – either within the same network or across different networks. Be creative – if you really have to tweet the same link, make the message or selling point completely different. On Facebook or other image-based networks, take advantage of thumbnails and images to make your post look visually different.

Get involved with relevant groups

This approach is great for sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, because they encourage questions, debates and also passive readers who will take note of who you are if your responses are consistently good. This approach also works well for forums and other community-based sites.

What tips have you got for establishing a noticeable presence on social media? Let us know in the comments!

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