All social media platforms use seductive language to make you think you're influential.
ALL social media platforms use seductive language to make you think you’re influential.
On Facebook, people can be your ‘friend’ or ‘like’ your business; on Twitter, they can ‘follow’ you; on LinkedIn, they can ‘connect’ with you; and on Google+, they can put you in their ‘circles’ of influence.
The truth, of course, is that most of them aren’t your friends, don’t really like your business, wouldn’t follow you anywhere, aren’t really connected with you, and – most importantly – aren’t influenced by you in any meaningful way.
That’s the bad news, but the good news is that this opens up an opportunity for you to be a social media influencer – and that’s far more powerful than just being a social media marketer.
There are two big problems with the way most businesses use social media.
The first is to focus too much on the ‘media’ part of the name. If you try to use social media like you’re using other media for advertising and promotion, you’ll fall flat on your face. It’s not a one-way medium, like television, radio, newspapers and magazines.
In fact, the ‘social’ part is far more important, so it’s much better to focus on that instead. You can listen to your customers, engage them in conversation, and ask them for their opinions. There’s nothing wrong with this, and in fact this can lead to people liking you and your business.
But that will only get you so far. Yes, they might like you, but that doesn’t mean they will follow you, and probably won’t really be influenced by you – apart from self-serving interests like redeeming a coupon or taking up a special offer.
If you want to influence people you need to position yourself as an influencer. Or, to put it another way, if you want followers, be a leader.
This means regularly sharing your knowledge, wisdom and insights with your community – including your social media networks.
You can do this both reactively (as things happen in your business) and proactively (when you make things happen).
The reactive tasks are easier, are a natural extension of your normal work, and don’t take much time to share using social media. For example:
• after you read a book, take 10 minutes to write a brief review of it on Amazon.com;
• look through your sent mail folder for replies to people asking questions, and re-post those replies (with names and other confidential information removed, of course) on your blog;
• when you read an interesting article or blog post, tweet it to your followers;
• when somebody else tweets an interesting article that you know your network might like, retweet it;
• when you read a news item about your industry that affects your customers and clients, share it with them on your blog, including your commentary about it; and
• when your customers and clients are affected by external events (such as the economy, generational issues, or political change), blog about what they can do to survive – or thrive.
As you can see, all these are triggered by things already happening in your daily life. All you have to do is invest a few minutes to share them online through social media and you’ll be increasing your authority and influence.
This is sometimes called ‘content curation’, where you’re like the curator of a museum who chooses what exhibits to show and share with visitors. You’re providing value by deciding what to share, and by piggybacking on other news.
You can also do this proactively, by setting aside time for actively creating and publishing material. This takes more time, but allows you to address issues in depth, which means you can demonstrate even more credibility. For example:
• write a brief special report about your area of expertise and how it affects your customers and clients;
• interview other experts who work in related but complementary fields, and publish the interview on your blog or in a podcast;
• create short YouTube videos on topics of interest to your market; and
• conduct a free quarterly webinar about latest trends and insights in your market.
This is sometimes called ‘content marketing’, because you’re using high-quality material as a marketing tool.
When you combine content curation and content marketing, you become a trusted leader and authority to your networks. And that’s the secret of social media influence.
Gihan Perera helps and business professionals use the internet for e-marketing and e-learning. He’s the author of Fast, Flat and Free: How the Internet Has Changed Your Business.
To contact Gihan visit www.GihanPerera.com.