There’s a common misconception that online recognition can be achieved instantaneously. Individuals and organizations have been surprised to discover this is not the rule. In fact, having a credible and (dare I say) popular digital profile takes time.
Just as it takes time to develop your career, make friends in a new neighbourhood and build a customer base, it takes time to build relationships online. And perhaps that’s the core of the misunderstanding. Many people think relationships and community are buzzwords. In some way they are. However, they better describe the nature of online culture. It’s an investment in time, energy and technique to build a digital profile.
There has been a lot of chatter in PR and communication circles about the interpretation of so-called credibility scores assigned by tools like Klout. Similarly, many media reports equate the number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes to having online and even real world clout. There are many legitimate reasons someone might follow or like a brand, person or organization online, none of which are an endorsement. Imagine if the follow or like buttons were actually labeled trust.
Indeed, the emphasis on follows and likes as a perceived endorsement of credibility has led to the emergence of businesses which sell followers at a fairly low cost. Yes. For a few shekels you can buy thousands of fake followers for your Twitter account (I’ve decided not to link to any such service. To find them, just search on “buy twitter followers”). That’s like paying actors to attend a rally to make your issue appear to be have more attention than it actually enjoys. That’s called Astroturfing.
Gaining a follow or a like is a transaction. If you want to have a real digital profile, you must build a relationship; or, as I just accidentally typed (and corrected), a realationship. The true value of a digital profile is derived from the nature of interactions between connected parties. Are they actually talking with each other? Are they listening? Are they sharing? Is there a level of respect even in the face of disagreement?
It takes time and effort to build a meaningful digital profile. And, those who have done so successfully will tell you it’s worth it.