Everyone seems to be so focused on marketing their online content that they forget to market themselves. Probably because creating great content takes time, but that’s no excuse. I see it all too often, companies who have obviously invested in content and a killer marketing strategy but nobody knows who’s behind all of the stock photos and generic content. It might be working fine for some but it’s not fooling anybody, not these days anyway.

Think about the last time you took a recommendation from a friend or colleague such as where to eat lunch or a new app you should check out. You most likely acted on that referral, in part, because it came from someone you connect with and trust. Now think about the last time you received a referral and ignored it. You probably ignored it because it seemed like spam or just looked like another interruptive ad. Being in an age where picking out spam is like picking a hair out of your lunch, which you have already eaten half of, you were probably just as repulsed as the rest of us and disgusted that you had to see it. You can put as much money behind sponsored content as you want, and post it on every social media site you can think of but that doesn’t mean anybody is going to want to consume it. In fact, a Neilson Study suggests that 82% of North Americans trust recommendations made by people they know. And only 32% trust ads they see on mobile devices. In other words, people trust people who they perceive to be experts.

So how do we earn the trust and business of our target markets? We give them someone to trust and to connect with who can be an ambassador for the brand. We give them an expert; and that expert gives them great content.

The problem is that most organizations are often afraid to promote their experts, or they fear that the expert will dilute and take the attention away from their brand, or worry that the expert will leave them or get poached by a headhunter if they build a following. Fear not; let your experts be free. It might do you some good.

Here are 6 things you need to do in order to promote yourself or your company’s though leaders effectively as experts.

1. Be Discoverable

As an expert you must ensure that you are easy to find and are easily discoverable. By having a presence on social media and by commenting on forums and current topics relating to your expertise you will establish a presence online and in the media which others will recognize. A good way to start is by using appropriate keywords when posting content and keeping your SEO in check. There are services such as ExpertFile, which works as a sort of dating website for when somebody is looking for an expert. Type in your criteria, and bam… It’s a match. You are provided with a list of experts to choose from who are most likely to suite your needs based on what topic you are looking to cover. This is where media and writers go to find contributors to feature in their content. You’ll probably want to be on that list.

2. Maintain Credibility

The first thing people do when they hear about you is check you out online. They look at your LinkedIn profile, your Google hits, and your social media feeds. They are trying to find out how credible you are. Credibility is not something that happens instantly. It’s a process that involves time, effort, and patience but it’s a worthwhile investment. Ensure you keep up to date and educated on topics you engage with, verify your information is accurate, credible, and current. Provide content and insight on topics of interest to publications and social media, as well as your own blog. Increase your optics by maintaining an up-to-date website with client testimonials and maintain a social following by interacting with followers.

3. Be Engaging

Ensure that you deliver a more engaging experience by creating content that is worth sharing. Ask thought provoking questions, encourage discussion and respond by offering solutions. Do a podcast or a video instead of a written blog to switch things up a little. Maintain a positive personality and presence by being responsive and engaging with others on social media feeds.

4. Be passionate about building and growing relationships.

By building good relationships with others you are also building a positive reputation for your employer. With tools like LinkedIn, it is easy to find and connect with others who share the same interests as you. People who know you will credit you and your business as trustworthy and experienced. Relationships lead to more relationships.

5. Be Responsive and Reactive

It is important to stay informed and ahead of the curve and able to think quickly. When something happens online you should be ready to address it in a timely manner. Whether it’s somebody tweeting at you, a comment on a social media feed, a bad review, or news article about you or your company, you must be ready to respond and react gracefully and effectively when approached. It might be handy to have some Google Alerts keywords set up to notify you if anybody is talking about you or a subject you might be interested in. Setting yourself up on a service such as HARO can increase your chances of gaining coverage in your areas of expertise. This can also help you build some positive relationships and a good rapport with the reporters you end up helping out, as well as some good karma along the way. You can use tactics such as Newsjacking to essentially piggyback on trending news stories and get valuable exposure. This also helps you seem very up to date and reactive to current events.

6. Be Mobile Friendly

Everything you do must be mobile friendly. With the majority of content being read from a mobile device while on the go, or even at home, if something isn’t easy to read on a mobile device, it often gets overlooked. By ensuring that any content you post is compatible with mobile devices you will increase the chances of your content being read and shared. Google has a great mobile friendly tool – among many - to test how mobile friendly your web pages are. You can take it a step further and check out how good your SEO is and how likely you are to show up in search engines with he help of Hubspot's Website Grader. They provide handy advise on how you can improve your SEO practices.

Conclusion

In addition to your company’s brand, experts must represent their own brand. Experts, essentially, are the company. By promoting an expert for a company, you provide greater value for customers and in turn, better reward and better recognition.