Online Reputation

Perception is everything.

How your audience perceives you as a person and online marketer will dictate how successful you can become. Keep in mind that I said “perception” – and perceptions can be changed to suit you.

You can change the general perception of your visitors to make them view you as a trustworthy, credible person, and in time they can even perceive you as an authority in your chosen field – even if you’re not.

In politics (and the corporate world) they call it PR – public relations. The difference is that it’s easier on the internet…

You see, the internet allows you a measure of anonymity. Yes, some platforms like Facebook have started to enforce the use of real identities, but many other online platforms don’t. In fact, on the internet you can choose to be anyone or anything you choose to be. You can be a fat slob, and present yourself as a hunk – or even a girl. The irony is that, as long as you are consistent with what you put out, people will eventually perceive your assumed persona as “a real person”.
In fact, many online marketers do that when they enter different niches. The problem is that it (being fake) has its limits. You can never do a live interview, or record a video of yourself talking. You can never speak up at a public event. And most of all, you can never, ever let your friends find out – because if one of them exposes you on Facebook, you’re done.

But you get the point – which is that you can make people believe anything about you, as long as you go about it the right way.

Now…

Fact: People are more likely to buy from people they know, like and trust. Credible people.

Let’s break that down:

1. “Know”

Let’s face it – anyone (even you) will be more likely to buy something with which you are familiar, or which is recommended by someone familiar. It’s part of our basic human psychological setup. It’s also part of our common sense self defence mechanism, given the massive number of scammers and junk products out there.

You get to “know” someone when you are continuously exposed to him or her. In other words, if you are constantly visible on social media, and you regally engage with your connections and/or like-minded people (on Facebook groups, for instance), more and more people will see your name (and face) popping up regularly.

You become a “familiar presence”. Eventually they’ll come to know you – even those who don’t become your connections.

2. “Like”

Getting people to like you (online) is relatively easy.

Firstly, refrain from putting out anything that is offensive. Think twice, post once. Once it’s out there, the damage is done. People have lost their jobs over one improper utterance on social media – so yes, it carries a lot of weight. Don’t get involved in any conflicts or fights. If you’re on the losing side, your credibility will take a knock.

Secondly, offer positive feedback wherever you can – whether it be on a picture someone put out, or something that someone said. A few kind words at the right moment can start a friendship that might help you get massive exposure over time. You never know if the person you are talking to will eventually become a power user on that platform, and regularly re-share your stuff.

Lastly, share other people’s stuff – but only the stuff that fits in with what you are trying to bring across. It doesn’t have to be about the topics you write about, but it does have to align with your mission and your values. For instance, if you’re a person who wants to be perceived as someone who cares, you would (just an example) be willing to share a pic of a missing child, or an abused animal.

Just one thing – be very careful of sharing humor. “Funny” is a perception that differs from one person to the next, and what’s funny for one person, can be offensive to the next. Also, people may classify you as a person by what you deem to be funny, especially if you share something that’s “funny at the expense of someone else” ) like your “epic fail” videos on Youtube, for instance).

3. “Trust”

Trust is earned by two things: Value and consistency. If you keep on sharing useful and helpful information, people will find it easier to trust you. It doesn’t always have to be your own information – in fact, sharing information coming from your friends (but which you deem fitting for your audience) can be very powerful, because now only does it build goodwill with the original poster, it also shows that you value the input of your friends or connections on the platform. It can earn you some good shares, and a lot of exposure over time.

Of course, doing this is worth infinitely more if you can do it consistently. If you find you don’t have much time to do it every day, just try to confine yourself to smaller groups of people (on Facebook or Google+, for instance), or just stick to your circle of friends, followers or connections. If you try to post in a group of 50,000 people when you only have ten minutes available, you won’t make much of a splash. Go “fishing in a smaller pond”, and establish your connections one by one. Focus on quality, rather than quantity.

Fact: ten friends who will re-share your content are worth more than a thousand who won’t.

In conclusion:

Building credibility is about putting one foot in front of the other (carefully), over and over again. It’s like crossing a bridge – if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will get there. It’s simple, as long as you don’t jump of the bridge (post something bad), or stop moving (not being consistent).

Keep in mind that, if you – for instance – stop posting on social media for a month, you are essentially throwing yourself back a lot further than that, because you have ceased to be “a familiar face”. So stick to it – even if you can do just a short period of time every day.

Keep doing that – and success becomes inevitable. You’ll eventually reach what Malcolm Gladwell calls “the tipping point”, and from there things will start speeding up. How long it’ll take will depend on many things – including the niche, how well you know the platform, what you are sharing, etc. But over time, your efforts will inevitably compound – like a growing tree.

Just don’t stop watering it before it matures…:)

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