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Writing in the 1st century BCE, the Roman author Publilius Syrus observed that “a good reputation is more valuable than money” (Honesta fama melior est pecunia). That sentiment remains true over two millennia later. In the Internet Age, our online personas contribute a great deal to our reputation, and they are particularly important for those who seek to position themselves as authorities. Simply producing authoritative content isn’t enough (for a refresher on what, exactly, is authoritative content, check out this post). You also need to have an online persona that bolsters your credibility. 

How can I build a strong online persona?

There are three facets to a strong online persona:

  • Credibility. Readers need to trust you. You need to cut through the fog of Internet bloviation by emphasizing your knowledge and expertise. One way to do this is by highlighting your (relevant) credentials, but giving readers a window into your content-creation process and your values can help, too. 
  • Consistency. This isn’t just about maintaining a regular schedule of updates. You also need to make sure that all of your content aligns with your mission. In other words, make sure you stay within the lane you’ve chosen for yourself. 
  • Authenticity. As any sitcom parent will tell you, it’s important to be yourself. Putting on airs in the hope of impressing people rarely works out (just ask Hyacinth Bucket). Authenticity will help you build stronger relationships with your readers, not to mention the fact that it’ll enable your content to stand out from AI-written material. For more about the importance of authenticity, check out this post by Nathalie Lussier.

What are some of the benefits of a strong online persona?

Having a strong online persona helps you stand out from the competition. The Internet is a crowded place, and if people know that you’re trustworthy and reliable, they’re more likely to come back to your content. 

It can also help you grow your audience. If people find your content useful, they are more likely to share it with others. That kind of word-of-mouth promotion is extremely important. After all, most of us have probably turned to someone we know for a recommendation at some point in our lives, whether it’s a parent, a partner, or simply a friend. Furthermore, studies suggest that people are more likely to engage with content that’s shared by someone they trust. It’s a great way to broaden your content’s reach beyond your formal marketing efforts. Similarly, a strong online persona can also be a great networking tool. For example, an expert in an adjacent field might find your publication and ask you to write a guest post for them.

Your online persona can also be a powerful driver of engagement. If you present yourself as approachable and open, people are more likely to comment on your content, sparking the kind of organic conversations that build trust and loyalty with your audience. This also makes it easier for people to give you feedback, which in turn helps you remain focused on the needs of your audience. 


Now, let’s look at some good examples of strong online personas. PharmaShots is produced by Octavus Consulting, a biopharmaceutical consultancy firm. If you look at their About Us page, they say they want to “be a valued partner to our clients and an asset to our communities.” They don’t stress the fact they’re a consultancy firm, instead choosing to focus on providing a range of authoritative content to help their audience. Their material includes detailed rundowns on particular drugs, discussions of specific diseases, and more generalized news about the pharmaceutical industry. The material on their site demonstrates insight, simplicity, depth, and relevance, all of which are hallmarks of authoritative content.

In a similar vein, Jason Poquette’s blog (The Honest Apothecary) shows how creators can leverage authoritative content to demonstrate authoritativeness within their field. Poquette doesn’t confine his posts to pharmaceutical topics. He also provides general meditations on the nature of leadership as well as more personal reflections

Although PharmaShots and The Honest Apothecary show their authority in very different ways, it’s important to remember that there’s no right way to produce authoritative content. The important thing is that you’re true to yourself and provide value to your audience. Beyond that, you have considerable latitude to take whatever approach works best for you.

Online personas are the key to success

Reputation matters. A strong online persona is particularly important if you’re striving to be an authoritative content creator. A successful online persona will demonstrate credibility, consistency, and authenticity. This will allow you to stand out from the competition, grow your audience, and drive engagement. But remember: always be true to yourself. A phony persona will ultimately do you more harm than good. 

Looking for more information about personas? Check out “What is a persona, and why does it matter for content creators?