Over the last decade, I've worked tirelessly to build an online following, authority, and eventually a thriving business. Now, I'm faced with people who wish to hire my services so I can help them do the same. At times it's a great company with incredible talent and I'm able to deliver. Sometimes that's not the case and I provide a different service.
Through these years, I've watched others surpass me online and have learned a lot. I've also surpassed many others… very few have a published book or a business of their own centered around their expertise. It's provided me with insight on what works, what doesn't work, what investments can jumpstart your authority, as well as what can really do damage to it.
However, all of that knowledge isn't really the reason you'd want to hire me. That information is out there… it's online through my blog posts, my business blogging book, and my presentations. If you follow me, or any of the other so-called social media gurus, virtually all of them put the information out there for free. Sure – many offer condensed training opportunities to get a crash course (it's a great reason to watch us speak)… but the point is that you could still get it without hiring us.
What you can't get for free is our authority. Social media gurus have a great following – typically within a nice niche. My niche is online marketing, inbound marketing and incorporating search, social and other online technologies to build business. While I do consult with many companies on those topics – other companies that have invested in my services are looking for something quite different…
They are looking for my endorsement so they can build authority faster… as well as access to my audience.
Fans, followers, readers and subscribers are a valuable commodity nowadays… especially if you can continue to grow that following. Some people ask me to speak because they've seen and enjoyed my presentations – but a great many others ask me to speak because they know that I will promote their business or their conference to my audience. If I speak – I want it to be a great event… sold out with buzz all over the Internet. In all honesty, there's little chance I'll promote an event I'm not participating in… I simply don't get excited about them enough to sincerely promote them… and my audience can tell.
That said, I take my speaking opportunities and endorsements seriously. I don't simply toss out an endorsement without believing in the source – even if I'm being paid to do so. I work with many companies that I've never mentioned online. It's not that I don't believe them worthy, it's that it would be irrelevant to mention them to my audience. The introduction would look out of place and forced.
I'm surprised at the number of social media gurus that offer paid posts, paid tweets and paid endorsements without ensuring they are providing value to their audience. They put up cheesy photos with them standing next to someone important to somehow provide a sense that they must be as important… see photo above ;).
I make every attempt to avoid these tactics… it would be an insult to the audience I've worked so hard to build and ultimately put them at risk. I think it's a short-term strategy to cash in – and it devalues their audience over time. Many of the make money online gurus do this. They have to cheat and buy endorsements just to keep up with the inflated persona they've created online. Their audience comes and goes as it discovers they've been duped.
If you truly want a large online presence and access to the audience of a social media guru, the easiest means of doing this is to hire a great social media guru that has the following that you wish to get access to and build authority with. Under FTC guidelines, I'll always state that they are a client or that I'm being compensated for my endorsement. Because I've been careful not to pimp out my audience to anyone that wants to throw me a buck, my audience doesn't care that I'm paid for it. They have come to recognize that even my paid endorsements will always provide value.
Hiring a social media guru can provide you with key information and consultation that will help drive your business… but the real reason to hire one is getting access to their audience and authority through an endorsement. Without it, you've got a long road ahead of you. With it, you can jumpstart your social media presence and online authority.