Pop quiz: What's the best traffic generation advice you've seen online?
- Write great (epic) content?
- Social Proof?
- Guest Posting?
- Social Media?
- Be everywhere?
Or how about:
- Become a leader?
Personally, I've seen a lot written on the first five (and more), but not too much on the last one.
But what is it that you want online?
I mean, if we look at it logically for a moment:
… you want more readers,
… and you don't just want your readers to be passing strangers,
… you want them to like what they read and come back again,
… and again,
… you want them to be followers.
And in order to follow, what do those followers need?
Someone to follow.
(that's YOU by the way)
So, now that we're all agreed on that, let's take a look at how you might go about becoming one.
A Brief Definition
Leadership is about trust and authority.
Trust is about being consistent, honest, operating with integrity and showing up on a regular basis – in short, being trustworthy.
Authority is what we're going to look at in a little more detail here.
Different ‘Types’ Of Authority
Did you know there are different ‘kinds’ of authority (or you might also try substituting the word ‘power’ for authority if you want to do further research on this)?
Let’s have a quick look at some of these:
Expert Authority (or ‘Expert Power’) is derived from someone knowing their subject matter – i.e. just like the label says, they are the ‘expert’.
Or at least they are perceived as an expert.
That is enough to gain authority and credibility.
(For any pedants out there:
I know to be a ‘true’ expert, it’s said you need to have 10 years of experience in something.
So if we cared a great deal about semantics (I don’t know about you, but I don’t), then we could say someone declaring themselves an ‘expert’ in Pinterest for example would be exaggerating their expertise slightly.
They are probably more of an authority, but it hasn’t been around long enough for anyone to be an expert.
So, back to the point – for Expert Authority, we just need to be perceived as an Expert.
To be perceived as an expert, how much expertise do you need?
Well, more than your audience has is often more than enough.
If I have been blogging for 2 months and you have been blogging for 2 years, then you are likely all the expert I need.
With the speed of the online world, perhaps someone with 20 years experience would be a worse bet in any case because he might start telling me about floppy disks and MS-DOS.
The way to portray Expert Authority online is by writing great content consistently.
Ana is a great example of expert authority.
It’s because of the expertise that shone through in Ana’s content that I checked out more content on TGC.
It’s then because of the consistency of that great content she had me very quickly convinced that she was an authority… and I’ve been reading her blog ever since.
Now that is expert power.
Take a look at some of Ana’s content from about 1 year ago (for example her awesome post: 202 Bite-Sized Tips To Insanely Increase Your Blog Traffic), which is about when I started online, and you’ll be looking at the same series of posts that completely wowed me and still does.
In fact, further proof of Ana's expert authority is evident in the stats she shares in her recent Monthly Income Report.
That one is a little different as she covers a period of absence, but it clearly shows that though her traffic dropped quite a bit whilst she was away, it shot up again as soon as she came back.
In short, it was Ana's established authority that helped her to get back on track after her break so quickly.
Referent Authority is authority that is given to you via charisma and interpersonal skills – often via association with others.
Srinivas Rao is a great example of referential authority.
Someone told him (I think it might have been Yaro Starak) that the best way to grow his brand was to interview people.
Whilst, at the Blogworld Expo Srinivas took the opportunity to do just that.
By showing up early and often, he was able to interview many well known bloggers.
He later turned all of those interviews into a podcast called BlogcastFM.
Srinivas now has plenty of authority and is known as a great connector because of all of the people he’s developed relationships with through his interviews.
I’d imagine that finding new people to interview is much easier for Srinivas now because of the referent authority he’s built up thanks to the interviews he’s had so far.
A perfect example of referent authority.
Absolute (or Legitimate) Authority
Absolute or Legitimate Authority comes with the position or status a person holds.
I only mention this here because in the corporate world this is a very common form of authority.
People in the corporate world have this kind of authority because it is a part of their job and is therefore very deliberate, structured authority.
It’s an interesting comparison, but though some people will have this kind of authority in online business, that will most likely only be between people within their business.
When we are talking about traffic generation and building an online brand for that purpose, this is not likely to be a type of authority that you can rely on – i.e. because your audience doesn’t work for you.
Reward Driven Authority
Examples of this would be paying for traffic or offering ‘prizes’ (i.e. rewards) to influence your audience to take whatever action you’d like them to.
This can work well in the online world and there are several examples.
One great example which comes to mind is when the reward is coupled with building social proof.
The problem with reward driven authority is it’s often short term. To maintain authority in this way, you would need to keep on giving rewards.
Which ‘Type’ Is Best?
‘Best’ is probably a combination of the first two above, but it also depends upon you.
Great content without any relationships or charisma whatsoever very often goes unseen.
On the other hand, poor content even with great relationships probably won’t be shared.
By all means, use rewards to build engagement, but then do something with that engagement.
Rewards work well for people who already have authority via other means, so the influx of traffic from the promotion is likely to convert into loyal followers because of expert or referent authority.
Reward driven authority alone will not result in getting followers who stick around (so put out some great content first).
What About Social Proof?
A quick word on social proof.
Social proof is basically another form of referent authority, and is extremely powerful.
It’s basically people saying that they like and trust your brand and making that fact public.
Social proof is the display of this information for all to see (e.g. when you display the number of facebook ‘likes’, tweets, comments, followers, subscribers etc.)
These metrics (if high enough) will compel others to come along and check what all the fuss is about.
The best explanation I heard of how social proof works was from something Pat Flynn mentioned in one of his podcasts (which you should check out if you haven’t already).
He gave the example of being in a food market and one of the stalls having a massive queue, with the others being relatively empty.
Which stall would you be drawn to?
In fact, I think he in turn got this example from Sterling & Jay of Internet Business Mastery (check out their podcasts as well).
Leadership: It’s Not About Telling People How It Is
You don’t need to tell people how it is, like you are the final authority on everything.
It’s more about being comfortable in your own skin.
In this sense, trust is more important than authority.
Why especially online? Because there are so many people trying to ‘fake’ authority; to get more traffic, more sales etc.
Have you ever had the feeling that the more someone declares to you how great a deal something is or how genuine they are, the less you feel inclined to believe them?
Sometimes the quality of what you do say plus all the things you don’t say are much more powerful than spoiling great content with a bunch of unnecessary validations.
The Challenge of Online Communication
Online communication is really easy, but it’s also really tough.
Let me explain…
We have an amazing reach, but we also have less of people’s attention.
We lose 95% of our communication skills online because we don’t get to use our body language, we don’t get to build rapport in the same way and we don’t get to use tonality or eye contact to build trust and enhance our message.
We only have our words.
10 Actions To Further Your Leadership and Enhance Your Online Brand
So, in light of what we’ve just covered above, here are 10 actions you can take right away to build your authority, enhance your leadership, and in the process significantly enhance your online brand:
1. Go through old content, add more authority
- Check for fluff and remove.
- Check the formatting.
- Remove distractions.
- Check that your message is clear.
- Proof read.
- Give examples to back up your statements.
- Be confident and make sure that comes across in your content – nobody remembers fence-sitters.
2. Build (genuine) relationships with appropriate people
Do this, repeat, and build on it.
If you’re stuck with how much to do this, start with spending as much time away from your own site as you do on it.
And here's some help from Danny Iny:
3. Check that your site content ‘looks’ authoritative
A blog is not a presentation, a book or a lecture.
We are dealing with limited attention spans and need to bear that in mind when writing content.
Make your articles scannable and highlight appropriately key phrases and affirmations that add authority. 🙂
More reading on the topic:
- How to Increase Website Conversion Rates with Derek Halpern
- 35 Headache-Free Split Testing Resources to Increase Your Conversions and Sales
- Conversion Optimization: How to Make More Money with Less Traffic?
4. Check that your site design looks authoritative
A professionally designed website will carry much more authority than a poorly designed DIY website.
There is nothing more off-putting than a dodgy looking site.
Especially if you’ve got some of those funky animations hopping around in your sidebars or banner ads.
Ana's resources for a well-designed site:
5. Update your bio on your site
You’d be surprised how many people check you out.
If people aren’t just leaving, they are probably just as likely to be going to your about page or your bio next as anywhere else.
Make your bio genuine and confident.
Make sure you include all of your relevant experience which supports your brand.
If you’re unsure, go and check the bios of others you respect in your niche to get some ideas.
Note from Ana: And here's another idea to get your readers clicking: add an “ABOUT YOU” page on your blog.
This great idea comes from David Crandall's new Brand Superpower site, which I, by the way, love:
6. Use your photo
Make sure you put your photo on your site and, unless you’re in the business of selling circus toys, make sure it’s not too goofy.
People buy people and they want to see who they are dealing with.
Also, make sure you use your photo as your Gravatar; if you don't know what it means or how to get it, read Ileane Smith's Establish Branding For Your Blog With A Gravatar.
7. Check your social media profiles
Make sure your social media profiles are clean, complete, professional and consistent with your brand and your content.
Put links in all of your social media profiles (these are all free backlinks).
Speaking of getting social media profile backlinks, check out this great post from Kristi Hines, social media queen herself and the author of the most useful guide on blog promotion I've ever read:
Also, here's the recent YouTube tip from Lisa Irby:
8. Say more with less.
That means less self promotion.
Play with different formats of content to find what suits you, but err on the side of brevity (people have a limited attention span, remember?)
If you’re making videos, try making them short.
The same goes with audio and if you are going to write relatively long articles (like this one or longer), then make them scannable so that they are at least easy to digest.
9. Be genuine when promoting others
In addition to the above, do promote others, but do it only in a genuine way.
Add value for your readers.
Don’t do a list post, which is not really relevant to what you‘re saying just hoping to get the attention of the people you’ve listed.
If you are genuinely helping people, then they are more likely to share and if the post gets shared, the people you have mentioned are more likely to drop by and say thanks.
If you mention someone in a post, do so appropriately, don’t claim to be best friends if you’re not.
Just write what seems natural.
10. Make sure to show proof of your authority
For way too long I had connected Facebook and Twitter to my site, but completely ignored LinkedIn, despite having a much stronger network on LinkedIn from my previous corporate career.
I somehow saw that as separate, relating to a previous life and my new online journey was all about getting to know how to use Facebook and Twitter (and more recently Google+).
In fact I think as far as social media is concerned a lot of people overlook LinkedIn, and they really shouldn't; just take a look at this post:
OK, so we all know this part is called the “call to action”.
So whatcha gonna do?
Hint: I’ve given you 10 very actionable tips above 😉
Or if you don’t want to take action on those right now, you could always leave a little comment…
Also, here's a little something to get your thinking going:
Husband, Father, Coach, Writer, Investor (in roughly that order :-)). You can find Alan at Life's Too Good, where he shares both his professional expertise and his personal journey to financial freedom, since retiring from corporate life in 2010.