What Is Social Authority and How Can You Get It?

Cheryl Luzet - 10 January 2017

If you have a business, the likelihood is that you have one or more social media accounts linked to it. In this day and age being ‘social’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is vital if you want to get your product or service seen and talked about online.  However, to get the most out of social media, you’ll need to do more than simply set up a great page. The magic of social media only starts to work when you begin to bring your page to life by building followers, engaging with people online and, perhaps most importantly, by showing potential customers the real value of your knowledge and expertise.  This is often referred to as social authority.

Social authority is a great way to build the reputation of your business. It’s all about being seen and acknowledged within your industry sector and building the trust of potential customers. Your social media channels are the ideal platform to really show off what you know and to shout about what you do!

Increasingly people are making buying decisions based on what they see in their newsfeed. In fact people often search for specific services and products via their social media channels. Peer recommendation is also an extremely powerful and dynamic marketing tool. If you can get people to post about your company on Twitter, or share photos of your products on Instagram, you could find that your business is getting seen and talked about around the world within minutes.

How do you define social authority?

While there are a number of different ways to explain the concept of social authority, a great way to look at it is by breaking it down into 4 different areas:

Who you know

If people can see that you have contacts and relationships with key players throughout your industry, it shows them that you are a trusted and well-respected company. If potential customers can see you interacting and engaging with other companies that they already trust, they are far more likely to have confidence in your business too.

Who knows you

If people notice that others who they trust and respect like and use your product or service, then this will have a big influence on how your company is perceived. Key online influencers could be their friends and family, online personalities such as bloggers within your field or even media personalities. The more credible, relevant, respected, authoritative people that you have liking and following you the better, and this can really add to your social authority. Many people will use the number of followers of a social media page to assess how good a business is, so a strong base of fans can be a real asset.

What you know

21st Century business is no longer simply about selling a product or service – it’s also about selling what you know and helping people to understand the value that you can offer them. For example, a hairdresser wouldn’t just give details about prices and opening times of their salon on their social media pages. Instead they might share a blog giving key haircare tips, or post some YouTube videos of them styling hair with a step-by-step guide. They might also want to show that they work closely with others in the fashion business such as a local boutique or make-up artist, by engaging with them and sharing their posts too.

What you are known for

This element of social authority is based on your online reputation and making sure that you really focus on sharing your business’s unique selling point. To raise your profile on social media, you need people to like and share your posts with their friends and followers. Think about how you want your business to be perceived.  It could be that you are known for the fact that you always respond to posts, or that you create engaging videos that make people laugh. It’s about being instantly recognisable for what you can offer and being seen as a key player within your industry.

How you can measure your social authority

There are a number of ways that you can find out how your business is seen online. The first measurement would be to find out how many followers you have on your social media as this is a key statistic. However you then need to drill down to look at exactly who your fan base is. Are you attracting the right kind of people to your social media pages and if not how can you encourage your target demographic? Ideally you want to attract people with large numbers of followers and a high social authority themselves. You also need followers who genuinely want to engage with your company and who are likely to want to share the content that you upload onto your media channels.

You can also measure how many likes, shares and re-tweets you are getting. The sharing of your posts, blogs and photos is a really good guide to your social authority as it shows that people find what you are saying both credible and valuable. By sharing your posts they are implicitly showing their trust in your authority and recommending you to others.

Mentions are another important metric. If people are posting and tagging your business or including a hashtag that you have created that means they are talking about you which is great for your social authority too.

Often, a digital marketing or SEO agency will have online tools available to them which mean they can check your social authority stats and those of your competitors, clients or key business contacts.

How to build your social authority

So how can you build social authority for your business? Following these four simple steps can really help you to increase your visibility online and get your product or service seen.

Start engaging

Get online and start chatting! Respond to any comments on your posts and like and share the posts of others. Engage with any local hashtags that are popular and take part in Twitter hours that are relevant to your industry.

Paid social media advertising

Social media is a crowded space now and one way to stand out is to run a targeted advertising campaign on Facebook or Twitter. This is a great ‘quick win’ for new businesses, and as you can pick out the key demographics of the customers you wish to target, you’ll know that you will be reaching the right people to help you build your social authority.

Build relationships with key influencers

Find out who your key online influencers are and reach out to them via social media. Bloggers, commentators and members of your local business community are a valuable source of likes and follows and can be a brilliant way of getting your posts shared with large numbers of people.

Create great content

Having great content that you can share is vital in building your social authority as this is what will really encourage people to engage with you online. Use your blog and news pages to give advice and share knowledge. Make sure that you understand what your social media followers are looking for and provide them with the information that they need and are likely to share with others.

Building social authority is an increasingly important area of your marketing portfolio. Social media presence is now a must-have for any business, but it’s vital to make sure that you use it wisely to gain a good reputation within your industry.

Share knowledge, engage with followers and create strong relationships with key online influencers to highlight the value that you can offer people. As your social authority increases, you could see greater website hits, more enquiries and sales, and ultimately it will help you to build a stronger and more successful business.