How to Build Brand Authority Online (With Examples)
Your brand authority online is a key component of the success of your digital marketing efforts. Unlike more concrete marketing KPIs, the perception of your brand might seem more difficult to control.
If your business doesn’t have a long track record or a brand name advantage, you might feel like becoming a household name is an uphill battle. How can you convey to your potential clients/customers that you are just as knowledgeable in your field as your well-established competitors?
The Importance of Brand Authority Online
The process of earning legitimate brand recognition and respect takes time, but brand authority is attainable. You don’t need to compare yourself to the brand giants of the world, and you don’t need a new logo, font, or color scheme.
We want to share actionable advice that can be incorporated into a sustainable digital strategy for any business. We hope you can use the tips in this blog post to guide your efforts along the way to becoming a respected brand and thought leader in your niche in the long run. Also, check out this helpful visual from marketing/branding expert Felicia C. Sullivan:
1) Establish Your Expertise Through Networking & Online Community Promotion
Your company (and any one of your fellow non-brand name competitors) can create high quality written or visual content that is objectively more interesting and useful than the content on a well-established brand’s website.
Nevertheless, people will most likely visit the brand name blog and link back to it because they trust the expertise associated with the brand. Here are three steps we suggest taking today to start building more trust in your company’s expertise.
Use community-driven promotion to maximize quality content exposure
One of our favorite agencies that solely focuses on content marketing, Grow and Convert, played a pivotal role in popularizing the idea that if you can find the right online communities where your specific target audience spends time and share it there, your content will succeed. If your targets are members of a specific Facebook group or forum, or spend time watching a certain YouTube channel or blog, find out how to get your content featured there.
It seems like a painfully simple tactic, but community-driven promotion usually isn’t carried out effectively. One of the main problems is a brand will gloss over the step of defining its target audience and finding the right online communities.
Grow and Convert founder Benji Hyam pointed out how the CloudPeeps Facebook group (an online space where marketing freelancers convene) is one of the groups where he promotes his agency’s blog. Why does Benji promote his content marketing agency’s blog content here? He knows the people in that group appreciate content that justifies and helps with their work/profession. Ultimately, you need to practice what you preach and meaningfully (and consistently) engage with your target audience in the comments and on social media.
Build a network of brand advocates and journalists who are notable in your field
If you put in the work to develop and nurture relationships with experts in your industry and journalists, they can help boost your brand’s visibility. You can turn leads from cold to warm by spending a little time on research. It’s never been easier to learn about someone’s professional background, find common goals and/or interests, and invite them to connect on some level.
Twitter and LinkedIn are especially great networks for connecting with professionals and reporters. Follow the same outreach tips you would follow when pitching a guest blog post, such as joining a Journalist group on LinkedIn or following and regularly checking the @helpareporter Twitter account (as Crazy Egg so helpfully pointed out.)
The right endorsement at the right time could help propel your content into the public eye. It could be a chain reaction of different experts boosting your brand through shout-outs on social media, mentions in their newsletters or blogs, etc. Or, maybe these experts mention you once or twice and there is no lasting positive effect. Either way, the energy/effort you invest in this practice isn’t wasted if it forced you to be intentional about building a network of strategic business partnerships.
Invest wisely in content promotion
One mistake that marketing teams of young businesses make is that they avoid paid promotion at all costs and solely rely on organic tactic and free tools. It’s smart to be fiscally conservative with paid media efforts. The results of paying to promote a piece on most social media channels are often short term and not worth the price. However, there are some cases where the cost of content promotion is justifiable.
For example, if you just published a blog on Medium that you’re confident has the potential to perform well, it makes sense to invest in jumpstarting its visibility. Entrepreneur Larry Kim is a great example of a successful business owner who achieved success by strategically paying for content promotion across social media platforms and Medium.
Kim recommends spending a little as $50 on targeted social ads to get your content seen by social media users with Medium accounts. The goal is to use this as a catalyst to help your article get likes (on Medium called “hearts”), which will increase your chances of getting recommended by Medium and ideally featured on the first page. Check out his chart below.
Key Tip: Your content promotion strategy can do more harm than good if it’s not researched and carried out properly.
2) Plan Strategic Influencer Campaigns
Another method of gaining authority over time is through a series of strategic efforts with influencers (particularly micro-influencers) over time.
We emphasize the word “strategic”, because any company can spend the majority of the marketing budget on influencers, make it a concentrated effort for a short period of time, and get temporary results. Instead of just boosting awareness in the short term, follow these two tips:
Find a network of influencers to invest in
Social influencers often have networks of friends who are also influencers and support each other’s work, creating an echochamber of influence. If you can figure out a group of influencers who all attract an overlapping audience and partner with each of them, you can multiply your footprint (and credibility) for the same portion of your budget you would spend on one expensive celebrity endorsement.
Several up-and-coming beauty brands have effectively used this technique by working with multiple influencers who all know each other, promote each other, and comment on each other’s posts. For example, @jera.bean, @chinaealexander, @rrayyme, and @melisfit_ are all influencers who attract a similar audience, work with similar brands, and reinforce the authority of these brands. They also all have 100k+ followers and consistent of engagement with their audience.
Note: Even though sports/fitness, beauty, cooking, and travel/leisure seem to be the easiest to find and leverage social media influencer networks for, even the least exciting industries have an audience. Try working with a platform like TRIBE if you need guidance.
Be selective about how you work with them
If you want people to take your partnership with an influencer seriously (and therefore positively impact brand authority), then the endorsement needs to be perceived as 100% genuine. It shouldn’t seem like a forced celebrity endorsement where it’s obvious a paycheck is involved.
The goal is to make campaigns meaningful, and ideally centered around something your brand, influencer, and your mutual target audience are passionate about (i.e. a relevant cause). Check out this post from @chinaealexander, where the image isn’t in-your-face with branding (she’s just wearing an Adidas tank top and leggings), but also makes a statement about the authority of Adidas as an environmentally conscious brand.
In our article on building strong influencer campaigns, we talk about some ways to help your relationships with influencers become more natural and mutually beneficial. Even when it’s a paid partnership, giving influencers extra flexibility to be creative will make them want to go above and beyond to prove and express their commitment to you. Occasionally, influencers preface certain sponsored posts with something along the lines of, “I only work with brands I truly believe in…” to affirm their belief in the brand to their audience.
For example, nutritionist/wellness advocate @veggiekins is consistently sincere with her product endorsements. She has an extremely restrictive diet and believes in only using nontoxic, vegan, all-natural products (which she explained has limited her ability to partner with many brands in the past). However, the fact that she is so selective works in favor of the brands she does actually work with.
Invest in the campaign type that works best for your goals
Even though working with influencers (especially multiple at a time) cuts into your marketing budget significantly, rest assured that you can prove these campaigns are ROI-focused.
The ecommerce platform BigCommerce recently pointed out on their blog that the more specific you are about the desired outcome of your campaign, the more lucrative your influencer campaign will be. These are a few examples of ways to work with influencers:
Sponsored Content Posts
The most common influencer partnership is when you provide the influencer with content guidelines and campaign objectives and he/she posts about your product or service. This kind of post could also be paired with a blog post on the influencer’s website or a shout-out in their newsletter (if they have one).
If your main campaign goal is to increase engagement and create buzz about your brand, try to partner with your influencer(s) to do a giveaway that requires tagging, re-posting, sharing, liking, commenting, following an account, or subscribing to a newsletter. However, we’re not suggesting your business will automatically have its authority boosted through these kinds of influencer partnerships.
Brand promotion via an affiliate link or code
It’s easy to track the ROI of working with influencers when custom URLs and unique discount codes are involved. You can specifically track how many customers resulted from an influencer promoting your brand.
On Instagram, the “Swipe Up” feature on Instagram Stories makes it easy for users to access a product page from an influencer’s Story. Businesses can also easily keep track how many users their influencers are converting into customers thanks to this Story feature.
3) Create Competitive content
Offering the best product/service and investing in all of the latest content creation and promotion tactics still does not fully demonstrate your worthiness to potential customers. People have a tendency to buy more often from businesses with a high brand authority than from their young, up-and-coming competitors (regardless of their content quality). This means you have to be producing highly competitive, top-notch content to even get noticed.
If you think of your own habit-driven consumer behavior, you might realize you default to buying the same brand name products and services, too. When you think about why, reasons such as routine, trust, familiarity and reliability might come to mind.
Be sure you establish a trustworthy and consistent brand voice and have the ability to adapt it to different contexts and content types. Your business might not be considered a “thought leader” yet, but your content can still outshine the content that household brands in your field are creating. Here are a couple of pointers:
Stick to your core competencies.
Stay in your lane, and create the right blend of SEO-focused content and shareable/linkable content. Sometimes the content that is the most shareable (or the most likely to go “viral” isn’t perfectly SEO friendly).
Be sure you balance creating content that you know will perform well simply because of the format or subject matter, and creating content with a narrow focus on SEO.
The right content mix should allow you to earn at least about a dozen reputable links per month. Shoot for links from sites with an average domain authority of 25. This is the kind of concrete work you can do to build up your digital content’s authority over time. Try not to stray too far from the scope of your industry/niche, too (this can dilute your credibility).
Track key indicators of your credibility.
Monitoring press/social media mentions and tracking backlinks will help you figure out if what you’re doing is resonating with your intended audience or not. You’ll need to use tools to help you organize and understand your KPIs.
Ideally, you can use a variety of free and paid tools together to help you figure out the status of your efforts. For example, SEMrush is one paid tool we use that has a useful brand authority indicator.
Do the hard work that other people don’t want to do.
Content curation efforts or massive newsletter round-ups take time. Producing high quality video content is no small feat. Industry leaders invest the time (and money) to deliver this kind of content for free. The hard work of researching, compiling information from legitimate sources, and organizing it all in an easily digestible format is considered a courtesy to the public that boosts their brand authority online.
Don’t shy away from industry discussions or from helping others without expecting anything in return. Add value whenever you contribute or comment on something (real value, not a vapid compliment). Repeatedly offering useful advice and personalized feedback will eventually be recognized, and it goes a long way.
Wrapping it up…
Proving that your business is a leader in your niche does not happen overnight. Our team here at Chainlink has worked with companies and brands of all sizes at different stages of their growth. We have seen firsthand the positive difference when a client positions their business as a reputable, authoritative, and leading source of information in their field (or at least as a leader in progress).
Chainlink Can Help
Through our results-driven digital marketing campaigns, we focus on the technical details of our clients’ efforts to build brand authority online. We can help you with SEO, email strategy, and PPC ad optimization while assisting with your brand authentication efforts.
We also work with our creative agency partners to help revamp clients’ overall digital strategy. Want to learn more about how we help clients carry out successful marketing campaigns and make a name for themselves in their industries? Reach out to us below!