Office Products Resellers and their Lack of Social Authority

In this, the sixth of a seven-part series of articles, I will explain the concept of social authority as it may relate to office product resellers in the United States. Many may wonder why I believe the need to establish social authority has become such an essential component of our increasingly digital environment.

Most independent office product resellers lack a social strategy and appear skeptical of the role of social platforms in the business. Perhaps this is partly due to celebrities' apparent use of social media as part of their very different business models.

For those reluctant to participate on appropriate social platforms, whether they like it or not, the clock is not likely to be turned back. Social media is here to stay, and it will have an increasingly vital role in modern business functioning.

The Series Index & Links to Access

I'll publish the concluding part of this series within the next few days as I complete the additional support promised for the argument I presented in my December 20, 2016, article, "How the Office Products Industry Has Failed the Resellers."

Merriam-Webster's definitions of authority:

  1. The confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or is respected or obeyed by others.

  2. The power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior.

Both these definitions are relevant to the theme of this article, particularly the second one, as it strikes directly at the heart of where we aim. Remember, content, contentcontent is our King because high-quality content is the platform from which an author can demonstrate their command over a subject matter.

"By demonstrating knowledge via content, then the power to influence thought, opinion or behavior can be established".

Remember, over 90% of buyers research online before they make a buying decision. Suppose a business like an office products reseller wants to benefit from this research. In that case, they must publish high-quality content developed specifically for that purpose.

"Ultimately, why would a buyer make a decision to buy anything from a company or individual that's unable to demonstrate it knows what it's talking about?"

For content to rank well in searches, it must be accurately targeted at the researchers; it must be placed on a website that's built and designed to perform well in today's online environment, and it must be placed on a site that's viewed by the search engines as trustworthy. The website must possess all the attributes we've advocated in this series.

Measuring Social Authority:

"Trust grows by being able to view a person's social content in aggregate!"

How do you measure the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior, and why is it essential to see the results of such measurements?

The volume of content posted on the internet is staggering and continues to accelerate. Everyone's time is valuable, and with over 4,000,000 search inquiries on Google every minute of every single day, how on earth can a researcher know whether or not to trust the information accessed from a search inquiry? Multiple searches and manual validation is one way. Still, another, perhaps more efficient, can be through the use of platforms set up to measure the online authority of content creators.

There are two popular, easily accessible platforms widely used to measure levels of online influence or authority which award scores on a scale of one to one hundred as indicators of power or power.

  1. Klout Score
  2. LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) Score

Of the two examples in the images below, who would you instinctively trust more?

Example # 1

Social Authority Influencer Image.jpg

Example # 2 

Social Authority Non-Influencer Image.jpg

My LinkedIn SSI, as of the date of this publication, is 67, and my Klout is 47, which compares to the SSI of 17 and Klout of 17 of a relevant individual and company I randomly selected out of the office products and supplies industry. You may or may not like my content or agree with my views, but that's not the point here. Instead, it's simply to demonstrate that one set of index scores is higher than the other, which may, in turn, be interpreted by a reader that the content may be treated with a higher level of trust and authority.

Ultimately, the higher your scores, the more views, shares, likes, etc. that are likely to be generated from your content which, in turn, translate into still higher levels of influence and authority.

As we've learned from Part V in this series, where I dealt with Social Shares and Social Currency, the more significant the audience and the larger the shares and likes, the greater the value of the accumulated social currency. Earned social cash translates into brand equity.

The role of paid advertising:

As I've written many times, developing relevant website traffic is hard work; it takes time, and I know no effective shortcuts. The process I've been explaining and advocating for is lengthy; it's laborious, and few have the fortitude to stick with it independently. At some point, those who do may look to accelerate the process, which, while possible, must first have the fundamentals in place.

One of the acceleration paths is to pay for content to be placed in front of a larger audience. There are two keywords here: "pay" and "content." Put bluntly, if you don't have high-quality content, don't pay, as you will waste your money. I mean that the fundamentals (i.e., content) must be in place first. Once a library of high-quality content has been established, then and only then may it be time to start considering the potential benefits of reaching an expanded audience through payments to a platform operator such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, or LinkedIn, all of whom have extensive networks containing potentially relevant audiences.

However, even with paid advertising, it does not prevent the requirement to continue building authority as, paid or otherwise, without "authority," no one will listen. Furthermore, if the message is too bluntly focused on sell, sell, sell, then it will fail. Trust must be established first with unique, proprietary content structured to educate, combined with sharing relevant, high-quality material authored by others, and then, finally, promotion of your selling collateral. To be most effective, each of the three content components should equal the others.


It's all about your content, audience, and engagement with that audience. This, in essence, should make up your marketing and brand equity development in the modern digital world.

However, although I emphasize digital marketing and information technology, it should not be mistakenly thought to be exclusively so.

Focusing 100% of relationship efforts online is likely to prove to be a terrible mistake. As I've written many times, social media is not a "silver bullet," either-or decision. It can effectively complement (not replace) traditional relationship (face-to-face) selling and marketing strategies. This distinction is also wonderfully explained by Freek Vermeulen in his recent Harvard Business Review article titled "What So Many Strategists Get Wrong About Digital Disruption." 

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