Recently I’ve been consulting with key leaders who are now using Twitter to extend their network, and I’ve been getting down to what are the key, daily tactics to run the Active Authority presence.

What is an Active Authority?

In my presentation on the 6 Social Media Presences, I discuss 6 different presence types that can be used by companies, brands, charities and individuals to provide 6 different forms of usefulness to their community.

The Active Authority presence is about being an authority in an area of expertise, and actively engaging your community by being personal and relational within your sphere of expertise. Most bloggers are Active Authorities because they are, well, active and authorities in their chosen subject. The best Active Authorities are, however, those who continually do the following 5 tactics:

1 – 1 in 5 Tweets are about their expertise

If I look at your Twitter page, I have to see something about your expertise above the fold, otherwise I’m not going to make the connection. There are people who have incredible skills on Twitter but you’d never know because 1] they don’t talk about it, and 2] when you follow them, you can’t see it.

I make sure I post links, talk about my expertise, even reply to people in such a way that I continually reaffirming my skills. Some people have the 1 in 10 rule of talking about yourself, but I think you can demonstrate expertise without talking about yourself.

2 – The last thing they say is their expertise

When going off Twitter for a period longer than a few hours, the best Active Authorities leave a note about their expertise. Why? Because while you’re sleeping, people are checking. I personally check the last 5 or 6 tweets when I view someone in Tweetie – other client have even less – which means you’ve got to communicate everything you can be to me in 5 tweets… or less.

3 – Most of their Tweets are replies

If you don’t have the majority of Tweets on your Twitter page as replies then I understand right away that you are a broadcaster and not an engager. So I won’t follow you. The best Active Authorities are all about people, and they demonstrate this through talking with people. Not rocket science.

It’s important to also separate this from the mantra of “you should be engaging” because I see people replying to people all day but it’s just trash and they are doing it as some tactic to gain more followers. Wake up! The reason why we engage is because it is all about people. They are the reason we are here.

Remember as well that talking to people can be a demonstration of your expertise

4 – They post photos and videos

Hubspot surveyed 9 million Twitter profiles to show that those accounts with a profile photos average 10 times more followers than those without. But the Active Authority takes this further by regularly posting photos and videos of themselves so that people can hear their voice, see their passion and form of presenting, and get to know the 67% of non-verbal communication that goes along in videos.

You can’t imagine the effect that this has when it comes to people initiating a working relationship with you, because it means when they do, they already know you. I had this when I met Chris Brogan at Like Minds – I had seen him in so many videos and photos that he was exactly like I expected and I felt immediately at home with him – unlike the many people I meet who look nothing like their profile pictures…

5 – They create conversation

The Active Authority is useful because it directs. To be honest, if I see an Active Authority always asking for help and not giving help, then you aren’t an authority in my mind anymore. Also, if I see you discussing off topic things too much, I won’t see you as an authority.

This is fine if that’s what you want to use Twitter for, but an Active Authority has a very specific focus. Their tone is continually one of directing and being at the front of a subject, not at the back being directed by others.

This means they are the ones creating conversation about the topics they are an authority in. I’m surprised by how many actually don’t create conversation – it’s the whole point!

Try it, and let me know how it works

Take today to do these 5 things, and then report back with your findings. Let’s see if we can add to this list with more clear and simple tactics.


Archived Comments

  • juliewalraven

    Hi Scott! :-) Here we go with the Great Post! It is — You’re right about the 5 things.
    #1 I know that balance between telling people of your expertise and sounding annoying is hard for me. Obviously, when you are in business, you need clients. Social media is one more way for people who need your services to find you. However, if I never say what it is I do, they won’t know, will they? I actually have been working on that a bit but you give me more reason to keep thinking as I post.

    #2 Last thing about expertise. I know I don’t do that… yet what you say makes total sense. I come and go on Twitter sometimes without doing more than a RT or two but it does make sense to put top of mind out there.

    #3 That one I learned early on. I reduced my followers to be better able to hear them but even early on, I read through tweets and avoided broadcasters.

    #4 Need to work on that one. I do photos on FB and though we have a new video camera, I have not used it yet.

    #5 I do that in response to a direct question and sometimes in reply to other career professionals but in general, I don’t jump into a conversation with others as the authority most of the time.

  • randydunning

    I’ll stop lurking now – you’ve shamed me enough!

    My struggle: balancing production with communication. It is very easy to get so deep into the weeds of production that I don’t even think “what am I doing and understanding that would be valuable to others.”

    I agree when you say “The best Active Authorities are, however, those who continually do the following 5 tactics:” i.e. develop Twitter habits. I’m still forming these habits. You are helping.

    Thanks for the post. Great stuff.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Randy

    Thanks for stopping by – I really do value connection over community – so it’s great to connect in another way.

    These habits aren’t that difficult and only take a day to learn – trust you’ve done some today to get yourself along the way!

  • randydunning

    Moved comment to appropriate location. Nothing to see here!

  • randydunning

    Well, I’d say that the *concepts* take only a day to learn (or less – the time needed to read your post).

    Habits though, by definition, are ingrained with time and practice.

    E.g. I’ve utilized all of the five ways at least once (grasp the concept) but have yet to do so consistently (haven’t developed a habit).


  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Julie – thanks for being so open and honest!

    I think on this list #1 is the one that requires balance and skill the most, because you are so right that it can be annoying and very hard sales like.

    How do you find it best to “Sell without selling” on Twitter?

  • / Scott Gould

    Got it – so what we need is a habit of reflection to check we’re on focus?

  • randydunning

    Indeed a habit of reflection would be good – a regular (even daily) review of work completed and ideas utilized with an eye to what truths or practices might benefit the larger community.

    But even beyond that, I guess what I’m saying is that it takes time and practice for this focus to develop and become second nature – for a person or even organization to just “get it” and do it somewhat effortlessly.

    I’ll give you a personal example. When sites like Facebook and Twitter came on the scene (and even the email campaign services and blogs) it took me awhile to understand what they did and how I should use them – I faced a learning curve. But once I began using them my understanding deepened and my mind became conditioned to think of employing them throughout the day. So, instead of pulling up Facebook or Twitter and thinking, “Hmmm, what should I say,” I would experience a thought, emotion or event and think “I’ve got to post that!” The more I posted, responded, and interacted, the less I thought about it and instead just did it.

    I’d liken the process to slowly becoming fluent in another language. Perhaps obtaining social media fluency is a better concept then developing social media habits.

    Make sense?

  • Jeremy Victor

    Very well done … great advice, much of which I will put into practice. Especially your thinking about last thing you say. Thinking back, far too often my last tweet of the day is not about my expertise – that little nugget of advice is simply brilliant.

  • / Scott Gould

    Yes it makes sense!

    It helps massively, when learning these new skills, to have people tell you inside tips. I can recall many times in my life where someone told me an inside tactic that helped me get far further than those around me – which is what this post is about.

    Thanks for commenting and discussing Randy – it’s good to talk with you and get to know you better.

  • / Scott Gould

    Yes making your last tweet an expert tweet is gold :-)

    What other tactics do you have that go on this list that you have learnt?

  • Jeremy Victor

    They teach.
    The Active Authority helps builds the knowledge of the people they interact with.

    They know how to check their ego at the door.
    It’s is almost an art form to effectively tweet about your expertise and skills and not come through as a “know it all”

  • / Scott Gould

    Good points Jeremy – I like those a lot. Teaching is a big thing. I see so few people actually valuably teaching, no wonder they aren’t viewed as authorities.

    If you were to say what the best ways were to tweet about your expertise, without being a “know it all”, what would they be?

  • sytaylor

    I can honestly say, I feel I fail on all these points more or less daily.

    You are 100% right with how you should use twitter. I think the problem your audience will experience is, the vast majority of us have a day job. Twitter is interest led, and we’ll only hit it when something interests us enough to engage.

    We *should* use it for conversations, but the vast majority of them happen between 9 to 5. We need to consider how professionals with a day job can work these actions into their habits. It’s something I’m struggling with terribly!

  • / Scott Gould

    The answer: FOCUS.

    Clarify exactly what you want to be the authority in (a strong, competitive offering).

    Develop a strong NO to all the fluff that would take you off track.


  • Ricardo Bueno

    They’re more engaged in a genuine way and their give and share useful knowledge. You can tell when someone is disingenuous (it’s blatantly obvious).

  • / Scott Gould

    Totally. Do what you do best, link to the rest.

  • / Scott Gould

    Dear all, I read this post today by Liz Strauss, and it has 8 excellent points on showing your expertise, without showing it. Very useful for this conversation:

  • Paul Andrew

    Thanks Scott, great challenges in this post for taking engagement so much further and really building a platform in your area of expertise. I’ll be sharing this. Much appreciated,

    ps I wrote a post called Unfollow: Twitter’s Reminder To Leaders if you’re interested… cheers

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Paul for the kind words – how did you find this post may I ask?

    Checking out the link you provided now