10 Ways To Be Referential

The web is a referential medium.  Bloggers and digitally-savvy journalists understand the concept of linking as a source, and instead of having to re-explain something already fleshed out, we just link as proof.  It’s simple and as still as effective as ever, even in a real-time world.

Despite the buzz over real-time streams where the links are almost always no-followed, deep content and links as reference are not going away anytime soon and still do act as the lifeblood of the web.

And so, being referential remains a powerful position to be in.  Whether your company blog, newsroom, resource center or even team members are referential, those in such a position have a decided advantage over competitors.  It provides increasing returns as you’re spending far less effort on outbound efforts and can focus more on inbound.

People and brands that are referential get organic:

  • Links
  • Press
  • Speaking opportunities
  • Inquiries
  • Traffic
  • Fans
  • Subscribers
  • Growth of authority

So today, I’d like to share 10 things you can embrace to start being referential:

1.  Be consistent

If you’re not consistent, it’s difficult to be referential, especially if you’re interested in being referenced as something like a leader in a niche.  Simply put, we like to reference those that are active and updated and appear be at the bleeding edge.

2.  Lead conversations

We like to reference those who lead, not who follow.  This is a simple principle but one so many fail to grasp.  It’s human nature to gravitate around those at the front, not those at the sides or back.  Lead, don’t follow and you’re far more likely to be referenced.

3.  Share ideas that are obscure or unpopular

Another common trait among those that are referential is their ideas stand out in some way.  Ideas that are popular can’t stand out due to the nature of those ideas – everyone else is sharing them.  Those who already have a market position can leverage popular ideas to their advantage (and frequently do).  But if you’re not already popular and want to be referenced, you need to go the other direction of your peers by sharing ideas that are obscure or unpopular (but still compelling).  If the ideas are worthy, you’ll start to become referential as nearly every industry is searching for what’s new and different.

4.  Write content to create buzz

Along with creating unpopular content and ideas, share ideas purely to create buzz and acquire massive amounts of attention and links.  Then, leverage these ideas later on as social proofing to get your other ideas heard.  You can’t purely create content for buzz as in time your trust and authority may suffer, but the right mix is helpful to break out of being unknown.  Just be sure not to sell out.

5.  Build relationships with influencers

Influencers mentioning you are key to becoming referential.  Why?  Influencers are generally connected to other influencers, and when they see you mentioned by their peers, you’re now positioned to be mentioned by them as well.

6.  Have passion

We like to reference those who are truly passionate about a subject equally as much as we do those with interesting data points.  In fact, in a data-driven world, I’d argue passion is severely underrated as a quality.  If you look at the types of people and sites who are the most referential, you’d see a common theme of passion present.

7.  Share fresh thinking

We don’t need to reference more of the same.  In popular categories, you’re already too late.  But we love to reference those who have fresh thinking and ideas outside of what we’re used to.

8.  Have opinions, take sides

Opinion, like passion, is severely underrated and most businesses are just plain afraid of it.  You shouldn’t be though – especially if you consider yourself or your company a strong thinker.  Why not play to the extreme value of commentary and controversy?

9.  Source ideas

Those who build up enough credibility to be referential don’t just blindly pontificate without proof points.  Rather, they source ideas carefully and make a compelling case for their arguments.  You can’t be referential if your ideas aren’t grounded in reality.

10.  Analyze, don’t report

Many people simply report on their world around them.  This is not a way to be referential and you’re not adding any value simply by parroting the hot news or trends of the day.  Rather, analyze and contextualize the information from your unique vantage point.  Have a strategy behind your content and ideas shared.  If you’re unable to do this, you have no chance of ever being referential.

I didn’t say this would be easy…most things that are valuable aren’t.

What other qualities do you think make up those companies or people who are referential?

image credit: Terry Chan via Shutterstock