Communication | Marketing

Social Media Influence

Social Media InfluenceSocial media influence; the harsh reality is that you either have it or you don’t. I’m going to tell you the cold hard truth about social media…what you need to know that most people won’t tell you. While anyone can have a social media presence, not everyone possesses social media influence. It’s clear to those in the know that social media is a universe of the haves and have nots. It’s the difference between relevance and irrelevance, visibility and anonymity. You might have something to say, but without influence, nobody will be listening. Put simply, having a social media presence without influence is little more than an exercise in frivolity. In today’s post I’ll share some thoughts on the importance of social media influence in the building of personal and corporate brand equity.

Before we go any further, I think it’s important to address social media critics and the naysayers by answering the questions: Does social media work? Is social media right for business? Can you generate an increase in revenue and brand equity with social media? How does social media compare with other mediums? If you’re still asking these questions WAKE-UP – get your head out of the sand, and stop broadcasting your ignorance. Validating proof of concept around social media ROI is a discussion that may have had a bit of relevance 24 months ago, but unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island for the last couple of years you know that numerous case studies abound which validate social media beyond any reasonable doubt.

If you think you don’t have time to Tweet or Blog, the reality is that you don’t have time not to. Here’s the bottom line: How can you possibly justify not communicating with your key constituents, stakeholders, and influencers in an environment of their choosing, where they are actively having conversations in real time? News Flash: you can’t. That said, if you’re still a social media basher, watch the following video we put together and judge for yourself:

Okay, it should be clear after watching our video that social media can produce huge ROI, but here’s the real story line: only if you know what you’re doing. The one thing that each of the personal and corporate brands profiled in the video all had in common is that they leveraged social media influence to accomplish their objectives. If you choose to dive into the social media world without a strategy, without understanding how to create social media influence, you will not be pleased with your results. Like anything in life, if you’re going to do something, you’re better off to do it right or not to do it at all.

There’s nary a week that passes where I don’t have a conversation with somebody who proudly proclaims that they created a Twitter page, to which I usually respond; “that’s great, but why?” Don’t get me wrong, recognizing the value of participating in the most powerful medium on the planet by getting in the game is a good thing, but it’s an even better thing when coupled with a plan. Let me say this as clearly as I can…a ready, fire, aim approach will rarely find the target.

For all you well intended ad agencies, consultants, marketing managers, brand managers, entrepreneurs, and professionals ready to dip your toe, or your clients toe in the water that is social media, keep in mind that it does no good whatsoever to have a blog that only has one published post in the last 6 months, a Twitter page with 4 followers, a LinkedIn profile with 18 connections, a Facebook account with 7 friends, etc. It’s like flashing a neon sign that says I’m irrelevant and nobody cares. It won’t do anything to help you, it will only hurt you. In today’s world no one wants to do business with a company that’s not connected, has no influence, isn’t engaged, and that doesn’t get it.

While having little or no online following can easily brand you as being without influence, having legions of followers solely for the sake of amassing large numbers doesn’t necessarily mean you have any real influence either. Anybody can amass tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of followers just by following as many people as they can and waiting for them to reciprocate. The important thing to understand is whether or not anything of substance or value underpins the numbers? Think about it for a moment…almost nothing can hurt a brand faster than constantly messaging irrelevance to a large constituency. Not a good move…

Who you choose to follow on Twitter, which blogs you read and comment on, who you add as a friend to your Facebook account, or which invitations you accept on LinkedIn speaks volumes about what you’re attempting to accomplish online. Like most things, building and maintaining your social media footprint should be engineered by design, but the truth is that most people allow it to be constructed by default. In a perfect world you would build relationships with the largest possible universe of targeted constituents where you can productively engage and contribute.  Just as you don’t want to add to the noise, nor do you want to remain part of the silence. Having a relevant, highly engaged social media following means you have influence and can create action. Here’s a simple formula to ponder as you create your social media framework:

Social Media Influence = engagement+relevancy+knowledge+trust+presence+value+time

So, how do you start to build social media influence? The best way is to start off on the right foot by not tainting your brand or reputation.  Don’t begin by trying to sell something, but rather by listening, engaging in conversations, building trust, and adding value. Contribute knowledge and information to the constituencies that you want to build influence with. Become a part of them as opposed to a vendor to them…This is a difficult concept for old-school marketers to get their arms around, but a critical one nonetheless. I would strongly suggest reading two previous posts: “Shut-up and Listen” and “Stop Selling and Add Value” as support for these positions.  Following are a few tips to help you build influence online:

  1. Have a Strategy – If you want to create success and influence using social media you better have a plan. This sounds reasonable enough, but here’s where it gets a bit tougher – the plan isn’t about you. To be successful in creating social media influence your efforts need to be centered around others. It’s not how well you sell, it’s about how well you listen, add value and build meaningful relationships. Remember that connections are not the same thing as relationships, but that connections can develop into relationships with the proper effort on your part.
  2. Commitment–  While technology is a natural accelerant helping to catalyze new opportunities and extend relationships, creating trust and influence will still take time. While there are exceptions to every rule, don’t expect overnight success. Regardless of the medium, you’ll rarely find influential people who don’t recognize the value of staying the course.
  3. Don’t breach trust– you work far too hard to create a trust bond with your followers, so don’t blow it by not following through on your commitments. I would also suggest resisting the temptation to have all your communications be self-serving. Do this and you’ll be viewed as just another sales broadcast. When you do sell, do it properly, and for the right reasons.
  4. Don’t be a jerk, hater or taker – People don’t want to hear from those they don’t like. If you want to build lasting social media influence you must be seen as valuable resource and not a taker of other’s time, resources or ideas. Take a sincere interest in others – help them become successful – give more than you take.
  5. Have command over your subject matter – If you don’t know what you’re talking about, remain silent. Voicing your opinion isn’t nearly as important as helping someone else refine their thinking with wise counsel. The easy rule is to stay out of conversations where you don’t add value.
  6. Listen and respond– If you’re forcing an agenda rather than responding to the needs of your followers you’ll lose any chance at creating influence. Remember that most people will go to great lengths to help someone who has been of assistance to them.
  7. Publish quality content that adds value – what you produce in terms of content will be become synonymous with your online reputation. It will either serve you well, or be your undoing. Frequency is important but only to the extent that qualitative considerations are not sacrificed.

As I’ve espoused before, I’m not a huge fan of one-size-fits-all strategies, and this opinion holds true in regard to building your network as well. Despite countless opinions to the contrary, I’ve come to the conclusion that while no single “right” methodology exists for building your online network, I regularly observe many “wrong” approaches…

The conclusion here should be obvious – you’ll be successful in creating real social media influence when you take the time to seek out wise counsel, and implement an authentic approach to a well crafted social media strategy. If you don’t, while you might not fail, you certainly won’t maximize the potential that exists for you. I would love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve put forth above – Please leave a comment and let me know whether you agree, disagree, or have a different take altogether…

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37 Comments

    Julianne Krutka

    June 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I simply cannot believe no one has commented on this yet! This is a great article and I plan to send the link to the Social Media Nae sayers in my office! Everything you say is entirely true! Especially regarding Twitter. If I had a nickel for every person who has told me that twitter is a waste of time, I respond with "not if you know how to use it". You only get out what you put in and I'm not talking about the 140 characters, I'm talking about the building of relationships and the creation of influence!
    Anyhow, just my two cents…well done Mike! Thank you!

      mikemyatt

      June 11, 2010 at 8:37 am

      Thanks for the kind words Julianne…I guess I could paraphrase your comment by saying that social media is only a waste of time if you view relationships as being a waste of time. I don't view the world this way and clearly neither do you. I appreciate your comment Julianne.

    Jerry Anderson, CCIM

    June 12, 2010 at 12:46 am

    We are closing a $4million office building next week as a direct contact from my Twitter tweets about distressed real estate situations and the FDIC taking over banks. Our Sperry Van Ness Commercial Real Estate advisors in Florida are believers. What more proof does one need? Key for us is to provide valuable information, experience and wisdom and NOT try to sell.

      mikemyatt

      June 11, 2010 at 10:34 pm

      Hi Jerry:

      Kudos to you and your team on the closing, and even more so for your approach. I've come to the conclusion that the social media naysayers prefer to offer excuses rather than just doing what it takes to get the job done. Thanks for your comment Jerry.

    Justino Dominguez

    June 13, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Hello Mike,
    Great article!! It has really helped me to realize what Social Media really is. And because of your article I have decided to put more effort to publish quality content just as you say or don’t publish anything at all. And from here on, I think I will be just a listener for a while. Thanks a lot. I will be looking out for more good articles from you.
    So long,

      mikemyatt

      June 13, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Justino:

      Thanks for your comment. The good news is, your new commitment to listening will help you achieve your goal of producing better content. Feel free to peruse any of the posts in the social media category on the blog, as you'll find other information of help. Best wishes Justino..

    Andy Checo

    June 14, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Great tip! Lots of food for thought. Thank you for taking the time to share this.

    Robbie Vitrano

    June 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Hey Mike, thanks for including NakedPizza in the validation. Listening, engaging, reciprocating – have earned us 2 billionaire backers, 4000+ franchising inquiries & 300+ stores now in development (launched franchise company in Fall '09).
    Humbled, validated and taking nothing for granted. Underneath it all – and this is the REALLY GREAT NEWS – build businesses that are worth talking about, that create value, have social benefit and social currency. From the inside out. That fundamental integrity is good for business, good for society.
    In the post-recession, post-mass media environment, it's all in play.
    Good luck

      mikemyatt

      June 14, 2010 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Robbie:

      Well said…with leadership that has a world view like yours there is little doubt as to why you've achieved such success. Thanks for commenting and best wishes to you as well Robbie.

    EC Sheedy

    June 14, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Fascinating! And see me a bit red-faced, because I was one of those who couldn't figure out the value in Twitter. Admit to still struggling with it at times, and I am still finding my legs there. But I do like the idea of engaging people not just the unidentified masses. That works for me.

    Thanks for a great think piece>

      mikemyatt

      June 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm

      Hi EC:

      Your comment about engaging people and not just the unidentified masses is spot-on. Keep your thinking along those lines and you'll find your legs before long. Best wishes EC…

    Lois Ardito

    June 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    All points well advised and good reminders to us Rookies. I still call myself a Rookie Tweeter user after a year, because I do feel like I'm still listening and trying to find my place in the crowd. Having a strategy in place that works isn't always easy and your point about seeking "wise counsel" is to me is very valuable advice, a great to begin and a positive place to connect as well.
    Thank you

      mikemyatt

      June 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm

      Hi Lois:

      Keep in mind that when it comes to social media, we're all rookies to a certain extent – some are just a bit farther down the continuum. No matter who you are there are always others that know more, have different but useful perspectives, or can help you work through any barriers currently facing you. Thanks for commenting Lois…

    Mike Marzio

    June 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    It took me a whole year to understand what you've written here, Mike. Thanks to people like you and Scott S. I rebegan twittering just 2 days ago, and it already feels good. Long road ahead.

    I created a successful language school in the 70s, the old way, of course, literally, physically knocking on corporate doors and asking to speak to the training manager. It worked, not because I understood the importance of relationships, but because I was a prospection grunt 14 hours a day for the first 5 years.

    I guess I did build relationships this way, but I didn't have a clue as to what I was doing.

      mikemyatt

      June 14, 2010 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Mike:

      Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with old school prospecting, and cold calling will eventually pay dividends. That said, I have found those methods to be very inefficient – so much so that I haven't made a cold call in years…What's the benefit of having evolving technology if we don't leverage it? As you so accurately pointed out, the really neat thing about social media is how quickly you can build quality relationships. The key is to focus on helping others and not just promoting yourself 24×7. Check back with me in a few weeks and let me know how Twitter is working for you. Good luck Mike…

    Allison Miller

    June 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    What a great article. Thanks Mike!

    Daniel Decker

    June 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Great post Mike. I just posted earlier today about "14 Ways to Expand Influence." Took it more from a general influence stance than social media but was planning to do a follow-up towards social media influence. Instead I will just share your post! 🙂

      mikemyatt

      June 14, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks Daniel…I'll stop by your blog later and look at your post as well. Any time you have a compatible post, feel free to share the link here. Best wishes Daniel…

    patriciazell

    June 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I started writing my book on my blog about a year ago and have also been using Twitter and Facebook to generate interest in my blog. I'm in kind of a quandry right now because for a couple days I wrote numerous tweets with links to my blog. My visits dramatically increased (I'm almost at a 1000 over a seven day period), but my Facebook friends received so many of my tweets that it looked like I was spamming them. What do you think a good balance is?

      mikemyatt

      June 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm

      Hi Patricia:

      Congratulations on your recent successes. Balance is a funny thing when it comes to the volume of online communication. Your best indicator however is the feedback you get from your subscribers, followers and fans. That said, there are always a small handful of people that are over sensitive and feel as if they're being spammed when they are clearly not – don't worry about that as it just goes with the territory. However If you're receiving a lot of feedback from people who are feeling as if you're spamming them, then you probably are. Push the quality over volume, and push volume as much as you can without being overreaching. The good thing is you'll never have to wonder where the boundaries are if you listen…

    rsargeant

    June 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Lea McKay recommended this article to me and “WOW” she was right. You really drive home the need to be original and keep it real. We talk to Recruitment Professionals everyday and they are simply post jobs through their social media outlets. Your article is something we will defiantly be sharing with them. Thank you for taking the time to share this information.

    Rebecca B. Sargeant
    Recruiter’s Career Coach

      mikemyatt

      June 15, 2010 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Rebecca:

      Thanks for the comment and I'm glad you found the information to be useful. Just pumping out job postings has little to do with engaging, building rapport, or for that matter even demonstrating competency. If you keep sharing the truth with your clients the light bulb will go off for them at some point. Thanks for commenting Rebecca…

    Kidscamps

    June 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Kidscamps.com really got some useful information from this article. We are now planning a blogging strategy thanks to this posting. Keep up the great work. We look forward to your future postings.

      mikemyatt

      June 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks for your comment and best wishes for success on your blogging efforts. Keep me posted on how it works for you.

    […] got some attention within real estate circles, but I was floored last week when out of the blue Mike Myatt of N2Growth sent this […]

    Linda White

    July 2, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Great information, Mike, and very to the point. As part of a company still trying to figure out what we bring to the table, these are some very salient ideas. I think "Listening" should be part of every strategy first.

    awinash

    July 12, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Good article ,Mike.

    I have a question where this all lead to in future? Whether we are progressing towards as Seth Godin says ” Tribes” ? whether this would lead us to become like face book groups,linkedin group,twitter group ?Whether in future these groups will replace the continents and we all will be known as entity bringing from one group or another .

    Mike I would really appreciate your views on future direction of this.

      mikemyatt

      July 12, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      Interesting questions Awinash – What Seth refers to as Tribes are really nothing more than very passionate constituencies. Social Media is definitely a catalyst for impassioning constituencies. While digital "Tribes" won't replace continents, they certainly already span them, are helping to bring them closer together, shortening communication cycles, and building strong relationships that otherwise would not have existed. As the digital medium continues to evolve, it is my opinion that so will its impact. Thanks for posing the great questions Awinash.

        awinash

        July 12, 2010 at 5:57 pm

        Thanks a lot ,Mike for your valuable insights as I consider you as one of the Thought leaders of our genre.

          mikemyatt

          July 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm

          Again, thank you for the kind words Awinash and I hope I've helped in some fashion.

    […] Myatt presents Social Media Influence | N2Growth Blog posted at N2 Growth Blog, saying, “This recent post was very popular and I hope you like it. […]

    Nancey John

    August 2, 2013 at 3:49 am

    I have a question where this all lead to in future? Whether we are
    progressing towards as Seth Godin says ” Tribes” ? whether this would
    lead us to become like face book groups,linkedin group,twitter group
    ?Whether in future these groups will replace the continents and we all
    will be known as entity bringing from one group or another .I have a question where this all lead to in future? Whether we are
    progressing towards as Seth Godin says ” Tribes” ? whether this would
    lead us to become like face book groups,linkedin group,twitter group
    ?Whether in future these groups will replace the continents and we all
    will be known as entity bringing from one group or another .hub.n2growth.com/social-media-influence/

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