expert helping a colleague

Use your in-house experts to leverage authority bias

leonie waldron
Leonie Waldron
Head Strategist


  • Authority bias is a natural cognitive bias that humans are wired to experience.
  • We tend to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of someone we see as an authority on their subject – despite whether what they are saying is actually correct.
  • Position yourself as a teacher and share your unique skills and deep understanding of your special topic.

Why we believe ‘experts’ and how to incorporate authority bias into your marketing.

We follow – almost mindlessly – people we consider experts.

Our brains natural authority bias causes customers to be more easily swayed by opinions offered by authority figures, such as expert engineers, people with extensive formal education in a subject, or people who have decades of experience in a niche field.

This is because of a series of cognitive biases that humans are wired to experience. Authority bias is defined as the tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of someone we see as an authority on their subject – despite whether what they are saying is actually correct.

How cognitive bias manifests itself on social media

Because we are social creatures, we are also susceptible to social bias and being influenced by the opinions of others. So, when you see an expert stating their opinion on LinkedIn, and it is bolstered by many others nodding in agreement and adding positive comments, our brains give extra credibility to that person.

We believe them more, trust them more and feel more justified in our buying decisions if an expert has thoroughly explained the product or service first.

So how can you leverage this natural tendency in your marketing?

industrial cogs

Using authority bias to your advantage

Firstly, it’s important to distinguish between making up bullshit and passing yourself off as an expert, and actually being well-informed about the topic.

Attempting to fool people into believing you’re an expert when you’re not will break your customer’s trust, and it simply isn’t a sustainable way to address your customers. Honesty should always be at the heart of your marketing communication, so don’t try and pass yourself off as something you’re not.

On the other hand, if you do have a series of skills or a deep understanding of products, systems, issues or solutions in your chosen field, then tell people! Start a business blog, commit to a regular social media schedule, or email your customers with helpful information.

Capitalising on your existing knowledge is one of the easiest ways to build trust with your customers. Plus, it’s often the case that experts have got to their current level of knowledge because of a genuine interest in it and a real enthusiasm for their special topic. Just ask any engineer how they solved a problem and watch their face light up with excitement!

Ways to show your authority and expertise without looking like a goose

  • It’s important to note that showing your authority on a subject doesn’t automatically mean puffing yourself up or preaching to your audience. You can show authority by knowing enough about your topic to translate it into simpler language for others that may not have as deep an understanding as you. This positions you as a ‘teacher’ – a position we all naturally hold in high regard.
  • If you’re telling people something is easy to use – prove it! Show them visually that it’s easy to use. Explain it in plain language and let your confidence and belief in your product shine through.
  • Be receptive to different ideas and opinions that challenge your own: engaging in other conversations and respectful debates around your special topic show that you have a growth mindset and a genuine interest in the subject, outside of any potential commercial or marketing angle to your authority.
  • Stay humble – write about your special topic from a place of service. This means giving as much information as you possibly can in order to help people learn more or make an informed decision. It also means you can champion your industry, peers and colleagues, lifting others up to draw attention to their expertise too.
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