Social authority isn't given, it's earned. To develop social authority you basically need to do two things:

1. Cultivate a following or network and
2. Consistently add value

That's it. Sometimes people make it a lot more complicated than it really is.

I believe every brand has information that is of value to the marketplace, and today there are more affordable avenues than ever before to showcase and share that knowledge. To begin, simply decide which social media platform is the best fit for you (hint - it is probably where you clients and customers are spending their time). Next, establish a professional profile and then you'll be ready to start connecting to others and sharing what you know and learn.

I recommend sharing in ways that go beyond just words - use pictures, charts, graphics and videos as well because so many of us are visual and appreciate seeing as well as reading. Also, look for role models online to help guide you. It's easy to do a search of who is the leading force in your industry on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or Facebook. Follow or connect with those people to discover what folks are responding to and finding helpful.

As you progress, you'll more fully find your unique voice and you may be surprised at some of the far flung connections you make. You'll also want to set some clear and specific goals for your online efforts early on. Knowing where you want to go will help keep you on track and will make it easier for you to decide if the time you're spending online is providing a measurable return on investment. If you're not prepared to form authentic, sincere relationships, social media is no place for you.

Ultimately, social media is a lot like networking - it involves developing relationships rather than selling. It is important to come from a place of contribution. Recognized and lauded social authorities share a focus on helping others succeed and reach their goals, so it's best to keep in mind how your expertise can save others time, money or effort in developing your content.

Les Brown said, "Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours." Keep an eye out for useful tips, showcase up and coming tools, help others make sense of new trends and provide feedback and input. Most of all, stick with it! When people realize you are steadily delivering great information your social stock will soar and you will become an important social authority.

© 2011 Barbara Wayman, APR, BlueTree Media, all rights reserved

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Wayman, APR, president of BlueTree Media, LLC, publishes The Stand Out Newsletter, a free monthly ezine for people who want to know how to leverage the power of marketing and public relations. Get your free subscription today at