How identifying and capitalizing on your personal voice can help you to become a leader online
If you have read any articles about online marketing recently, you may have heard that Google Plus is “dead” and, from a social standpoint, that may technically be true. For me, it is more accurate to say that Google Plus is that one weird guy who just shows up at parties even though you didn’t invite him. So how do you deal with something that just won’t go away? You take the high road and try to make the best of it (and hey, you may learn something)!
Whatever your opinion may be about Google Plus, it was created with good intentions. The idea that it required you to use your real name had some controversy around it, but Google did this as an effort to weed out the spammers, trolls, whatever you want to call them. This was an attempt to keep the content as real and organic as possible. While the option of privacy is always important in an online setting, from a marketing perspective, there are advantages to using the internet as an avenue for potential customers / clients / followers to get to know you (or your company) on a more personal level.
While not every social media platform is the best outlet for promoting yourself in a professional manner, social media is, in general, an excellent means for getting in front of your audience and building a reputation as a trustworthy resource in your market. While Google Plus is not necessarily competing with Twitter and Facebook in the social realm, it did have some interesting ideas around building a positive experience for its users.
Google Authorship (also not technically dead!) was created with the idea that pages and articles written by one individual “author” would rank higher in search engines based on their “author rank”. This meant that an individual could build their own reputation and ranking power and have a strong voice among the the hundreds of thousands of websites fighting to rank on the first page.
Google may no longer recognize the rel=author code that allowed you to attribute pages across multiple domains to one individual author, however, individual authorship still matters to your audience! Building your personal reputation online is extremely important, now more than ever.
But why is this idea of “Authorship” important?
It has been, and continues to be, a pivotal part of human interaction that transcends mediums and generations. (This next part is interesting, I promise).
During the German occupation of France during WWII, a film ban was put in place to discourage international films from influencing their native audiences. Once the war had ended, a flood of foreign films into Europe gave French film critics the unique opportunity to watch a collection of films made by one director, in bulk, for the first time.
This is a similar phenomenon to binge-watching a TV series on Netflix. If you have ever done this before (don’t lie, I know you have), you may have noticed strong themes and deliberate character development throughout the series, as well as unintentional changes from season to season. If you watched this show over the course of its time on air, it would be easy to miss these little nuances. Whether these are intentional decisions by the creators of the show or not, it’s these small details that add up to make it your favorite show (and worthy of staying inside all weekend because you want to watch “just one more”.)
While French film critics were binge-watching Hitchcock in 1946, they realized that directors have a distinct style, making them an irreplaceable voice and vision in the filmmaking process – this was called the “Auteur Theory”. The theory that the director is the author of their work may seem obvious to us now, but this was a fairly new concept in a world where studios reigned over the film industry.
So why is this theory still relevant? In today’s world of endless information and resources available online, customers have become more skeptical than ever. If a company or individual does not have an active and consistent online presence, it can deter potential customers from choosing that company’s products or services – especially if it is a new company.
You might be more inclined to watch a movie directed by Quentin Tarantino over Tyler Perry, right? This level of personal trust is extremely important for companies as well, both on- and off-line. Customers are still willing to trust someone they have never met if there is a personal history or proof of past expertise.
Google understands the importance of personal accountability and created Google Authorship as a result. While it wasn’t as successful as they had hoped, Google Plus is still a viable outlet for showing your audience that you are personally active and responsible for the information you are putting online. And Google will do what it does best – continue improving their product based on data until they are the best, so don’t discount it just yet. (Trust me, he isn’t leaving the party.)
Twitter is another outlet in which you can build a personal following based on your past expertise to build clout among your potential audience. Also, as of February of this year, all of Twitter’s data will be available via Google search in real time – this means that when you search in Google, relevant tweets will now be apart of the blended search results providing users with the best, most up-to-date information about any given topic.
Here are some things to consider when building your personal authorship online
- Voice/Tone: What you put out in the world, you will get back. Isn’t that what our mom’s tried to teach us? Identifying your voice and staying consistent in all online content you put out is a reflection of who you are (professionally and personally) and who you will attract.
- Schedule: People surfing the internet are more like fish (or Dug) than you may think – they have very short attention spans and are creatures of habit. Having a regular schedule for blogging and posting will help you to build an audience that comes to expect to hear from you on any given day. Don’t let them down!
- Topic:Have you ever stopped to really think about the purpose of a search engine? At it’s core, it is a device for users to pose a question (literally, any question) and expect to find the best answer right away. It’s like a new and improved Magic 8 ball. If you think of each blog/social post as providing the solution to an answer, your blog has potential for being the best answer to someone’s question – and possibly capture a new customer!
- Resources: Writing a blog or posting on social media doesn’t always have to be as intensive as writing a thesis paper, however, citing your sources can give your audience peace of mind that what they are reading is grounded in research and established material. You shouldn’t just create content just for the sake of creating content (see #3) – it should be thoughtful, insightful, and most of all accurate and educational (don’t forget to check the date of your resources as well). Using links in your content from a trusted source is a good way to support your own theories and build trust.
- In terms of blogging, using a SEO friendly Content Management Systems (CMS) is the best way to get good, high quality content out online and improve your visibility in search engines. A platform like WordPress is already taking the searchability of it’s content into account, which means they are making sure search engines can crawl, index and rank your content without too much work on your part (hooray!). This doesn’t mean you will automatically rank on the first page, but it is a nice big step forward.
- For social media, be conscious of what each platform is best utilized for and choose the most appropriate ones for the content you will be posting (i.e. LinkedIn should not be used for posting your vacation pictures). Work on building a solid reputation on the most appropriate platforms first and don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to master every platform out there.
This is an opportunity to create an online presence and build relationships so that you and your employees can be that personal referral that users are looking for. A company is built from a collection of unique and powerful voices that are all pivotal to the success of the brand, so why not utilize these unique voices? Telling your story and the story of individuals at your company on a personal level will make your company a more trustworthy source in your field or industry and build your audience in an organic and healthy way.