What's the best way to build authority online? For many people, the first answer that comes to mind is social media. After all, social media is a great way to share your knowledge and form valuable connections – and with the addition of verified accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, entrepreneurs and influencers can increase their persuasiveness with nothing more than a little blue check mark.
But a verified social account isn't the be-all and end-all of building online authority – especially in light of stories revealing that black-market middlemen actually sell fake verification badges to shady brands.
The truth is, if you really want to build authority and credibility, self-publishing an ebook is a far more valuable solution than trying to get a verified account. In fact, in addition to helping you grow your business, publishing an ebook could help you get more out of your social media efforts too. Here's why.
1. Perceived authority
While it's true that social media can certainly help you reach new audiences, your verified account won't necessarily allow you to find everyone who might be interested in your content. As a close friend and colleague of mine, Brian Cliette, an instructor at Pennsylvania State University, once explained to me, people searching for advice on a given topic are far more likely to search for a book than a Twitter profile due to a perceived difference in authority. In our digital age, people are still more likely to believe something they read in a book than what they see on social media.
Having consulted with hundreds of entrepreneurial authors and worked with startups funded by Andreessen Horowitz and Mark Cuban, Cliette has observed firsthand how well-written content targeted at your niche will build authority much more effectively than social media posts. Best of all, older blog posts and other content can be repurposed for your ebook – similar to what many influencers do on social media.
2. Low entry barrier
Getting verified on social media isn't exactly easy, especially if you are looking to verify your individual account rather than an account for your company. For example, to verify your account on Twitter, you must provide two to five links that prove you have public influence – and you can't use your own website. You also need to write an explanation of why your account should be verified. Ultimately, Twitter's decision on whether to verify your account is entirely subjective.
With self-publishing, on the other hand, there is no such barrier to entry. You don't have to already have a lot of media appearances to write and publish your ebook. Experienced professionals and brand-new entrepreneurs have an equal opportunity for writing and publishing content that will build their niche authority.
3. New marketing opportunities
In addition to the potential for reaching new audiences through various online publishing platforms, self-publishing a book opens up several new marketing opportunities for your business. An ebook could become the focus of an email campaign or be featured on a landing page for your website – and of course, you can also promote it on social media.
With a published ebook in your portfolio, you can also take advantage of public relations opportunities that further establish your authority in your niche. The release of a book can open up doors for interviews, panels and more. It might even help you qualify for a verified social media account!
4. Building your list
Getting potential customers into the marketing funnel isn't always easy, especially if you don't have an enticing reason for them to sign up for your email list. Social media doesn't help here either: Many users are content to follow you on Twitter without ever visiting your website.
For many businesses, free content is the key to generating leads, and what better content could you share than your new ebook? By creating a landing page that highlights the valuable information your ebook contains, you can quickly increase the number of people who sign up for your email list. After submitting their email addresses and reading your ebook, they'll be more responsive to future contact with your company.
5. Passive income
While many businesses use a free ebook as a method of getting new prospects into the marketing funnel, there's nothing wrong with using your ebook to generate additional passive income. Over 485,000,000 ebooks were sold in 2016 alone, with sales of self-published books carving away at the market share previously held by traditional publishers.
There are plenty of customers willing to spend money to gain some extra entrepreneurial insight. By offering your book at a low price, you can generate side income for years to come.
Time to start writing
There's a reason so many entrepreneurs are actively self-publishing ebooks. You don't have to write an epic novel like "The Grapes of Wrath" to get quality returns for your efforts. Even a 10,000-word ebook that shares your knowledge on a marketing topic can go a long way in building your brand authority and helping you find new customers.
All you have to do is start writing or repurposing your old content, and you'll get far greater returns than if you simply tried to verify your social media accounts.