Building Your Online Credibility: Top 30 Tips

Harness the Power of the Social Web

2009 was the year that the social web hit made an impact on how companies and people interact online. Technologies such as facebook, twitter and blogging took the social web to the masses, so the power of the social web grew and became mainstream.

The ultimate expression of this was the Christmas #1 on Radio 1. The true music lovers in the UK had enough of the manufactured #1 hits from the X factor show and set up a facebook group to promote the cause. This viral marketing campaigns was one of the most successful campaigns to date through using social media with Rage Against the Machine making it to #1.

Harnessing the power of the social web is imperative to surviving sea of change in 2010. This will put yourself and your company on the front foot when the upturn in the economy starts.

This series of white papers will focus on specific aspects of the social web and the strategies companies and individuals should be adopting to make the most of this growing marketing channel.

Online Credibility – why is it important

Your online credibility is an increasingly important way of showcasing your specialised knowledge and expertise which will build your online credibility. As more people engage with the social web differentiating yourself become imperative.

Anyone can start a blog or start participating in forums. We live in a world where we expect people to be qualified on what they write about – but you don’t need qualifications in the social web. So your online credibility is the evidence of your expertise.

Online credibility is a perception your customers, potential customers, business / collaboration partners get when they visit your blog, read your comments online, read your profile, etc. which is why it takes time to build

 

Steps for improving your online credibility

How you look online

  1. Complete profiles on community sites When setting up profiles on the social sites such as Linked In or a Ning community, ensure that you set up your profile as comprehensively as possible.

  2. Be authentic and real when writing your personal profile, company profile and other information on the profile section. This is not another opportunity to sell, so it needs to resonate with who you are and how you talk.

  3. Upload a head shot photograph of yourself. Think of the online networks as networking events, so you need to be dressed for the occasion. Think how you engage with people at a event and how you introduce yourself, it is the same principle.

  4. Testimonials – get customers and partners to recommend you where feasible. These need to be genuine recommendations, not just back slapping efforts.

  5. Be yourself – be human. At the end of the day the social web is about people interacting online. So be empathic, modest, engaging in a way that reflects who you are.

  6. Be Enthusiastic – people who are passionate and enthusiastic about what they are talking about come across as more credible than those who are not interested. Enthusiasm online comes across in the tone of voice, commitment to regular contributions and though leadership

How you participate and behave online

  1. Go where your customers are. For example on LinkedIn, find the groups where your customers and potential customers are, rather than groups where your competitors are. Showing your expertise to your customers in a less crowded group is a more effective strategy than joining all the groups of your competitors.

  2. Have your own blog – as this is an opportunity to share your thoughts, opinions and views on what is happening in your industry

  3. Guest Bloggers – get some of the leaders/speakers in your niche market to write a guest blog post. This will boost your credibility as it shows that you have contacts with some of the leaders who are influential

  4. Comment on other people’s blogs – through using Google alerts / Google reader / Trackur you can track content on the internet around specific key phrases that are relevant to your niche market. If there are opportunities for you to comment on blogs or forums, then you should take this opportunity to share your view / information. Which in turn will build your credibility. The comments need to be real and authentic and not an opportunity to sell your product.

  5. Read up on individuals – once you start a conversation with someone, whether it’s on Twitter, LinkedIn or another site, read up on that individual. Start following them on Twitter, follow their blog or link up on Linked In. The point being that you are then taking time to get to know them. Just like real networking.

  6. Build on conversations. This is what you would do if you met someone at a networking event, once you have linked up with them, then start building on the conversation by regularly commenting on their conversations, as it shows that you are listening to then and are genuinely interested.

  7. Be a thought leader – don’t just report the news in your niche market. Add your views, opinions and commentary to it?

  8. Reference your sources – if you are going to cite other credible sources in your blog / comments / website then you need to ensure you are crediting those people as it shows that you show respect for their view and shows honesty.

  9. Be transparent – be upfront about any personal interests you have in specific topics or subjects – E.g. sponsorship or directorships – as these could influence your integrity if you do not disclose these upfront.

  10. Demonstrate your expertise – participate in the forums, groups and blog regularly to demonstrate your knowledge and that it is up to date. Participating in the social web on an erratic basis shows that you are not committed. Ensure you plan time in your schedule on a daily / 3 day basis to keep up to date.

  11. Share free and important information. Sharing information whether it is in a blog post, white paper or press release, shows that you are generous in nature and want to engage with people rather than sell to them.

  12. Use proper grammar. Rather than using abbreviations or text/sms slang. This shows that you have considered your content rather…?.

  13. Think about how you react to an abusive or negative comment – how would you respond offline/in person.. Use that as a benchmark for responding online. If you feel you have to respond negatively, save your response for an hour or so to cool down, then reconsider sending it

  14. Monitor conversations around your brand. Set up Google Alerts or Trackur to monitor conversations online around specific key phrases that are relevant to your brand. So you can then respond in a timely manner to positive and negative comments.

  15. Be proactive – contribute regularly. Using tracking comment and contribute on a regular basis

  16. Be willing to admit you are wrong – we all make mistakes individuals and companies. It is about taking responsibility for this and responding correctly. Showing humility shows that you are willing to be vulnerable and listen.

  1. Think about your customers – every time you are writing a blog post or responding to a comment always have your customer at the forefront of your mind. If the offline world we support our customers and potential customers sharing information, discussing ideas or connecting them. The same is online, if you reflect the same processes online for your potential customers then if demonstrates that are not in it just for the sale, you genuinely want to support them.

  2. Designs matter – the look and feel of your blog, website and logo matter as it is the first thing they see when the go to your blog or website. Makes sure the look and feel is professional and is inline with the expectations of the industry. Less is better than more, simple better than complex.

  3. Maintain your integrity – don’t lose your temper, waffle, give inaccurate advice online, maintain your professionalism at all times. Always consider that the person you are responding to may have many contacts themselves. A diplomatic response is nearly always the best one.

  4. Speaking opportunities – host a webinar or a round table discussion or offer to be a guest expert on someone else’s as this builds on your knowledge sharing. Get this content video-ed and uploaded to You Tube or Vimeo. Then link this in with your other online social networks

  5. Video Content – create video content around your niche topic. Whether it’s an interview, discussion, talking through how to do something. Creating that point of difference between yourself and you competitors will boost your online credibility. New digital cameras have extremely good quality video capability, making videos doesn’t need to be expensive.

  6. It takes time to build your credibility, so don’t rush it . You need to be in for the long haul, with no short cuts, as these always end up being detrimental to your credibility

  7. Stick to what you know – don’t stray from your core expertise. Stay focused on your niche market and what differentiates you from your competitors. It is easy to get pulled into conversations which are outside your comfort zone. It is easier to state that you’ll have to find out if a specific question comes up that you don’t know about. Rather than pretending to know and loosing all that hard work in one sentence.

  8. Care and concern for your audience. If you show care and concern for your audience above your personal goals of building a blog, communicate with readers, build your online credibility, then it proves that you are ‘in it’ for the benefit of others as well as yourself, which is an important differentiator.

Hopefully these steps for improving your online credibility will boost your confidence in terms of what actions you need to take to start managing your credibility.

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