Remember what it was like the first day of high school? You nervously walk to the bus stop, wondering who else is going to be there. Once on the bus, you cautiously look around at all the new faces, seeing if you know any and looking at others you don’t. During your first period class, you looked around to find some friends you knew, but most you didn’t know. It probably took weeks if not months to build up a good group of friends and influence within the school ecosystem.
Much like you built up your reputation in school, creating an online presence is just as valuable, if not more. Creating an online influence for yourself can help you gain valuable connections, teach others (and learn from them too), develop power of persuasion, and become regarded as a thought leader.
If you are in the marketing industry, you may idolize people like Chris Brogan and David Meerman Scott for their high influence, visibility and knowledge. I, like many of you, have sat down wondering how to become like them.
Here are 20 key tips to follow to build your online influence:
1. Don’t talk about your service or product. Instead, talk about customer problems and needs and develop meaningful content around those.
2. Be transparent. You will become more credible and trustworthy if you are honest online.
3. Follow great people.
4. Online to offline. Make connections online and continue the relationships offline at events or meet ups.
5. Start conversations with others. If someone shares your article on social media, writes about your product, criticizes you, or asks you a question, answer. That is key to building relationships.
6. Be early in the news cycle so you share information that people are looking for and haven’t seen anywhere else. If you are able to write about or share breaking news, people will come to you more for industry leading breakthroughs.
7. Share good content consistently. When people come to expect you to share and post content regularly, and it is good content, they will keep coming back to you.
8. Let your passion shine. The more devotion and passion you show in your work, the more others will see it and believe it. This will bring them into your content and will entice them to engage with you.
9. Talk about others. If you can praise others, discuss great companies, review an outstanding product/service, etc. people will recognize that, appreciate it, and perhaps return the favor.
10. Repeat your tweets. I will always remember what Guy Kawasaki said about retweets: It is a good practice to RT an article about four times over the course of a day for it to get noticed and shared.
11. Understand your audience and build content around that. If you are a lawn mowing manufacturer and know your audience is interested in lawn care, write about that.
12. Don’t try to be all things to everyone. Instead, master one niche. It is best to focus in on one particular topic (for me it is internet marketing) and share your expertise. Don’t try to write about five different topics; people will get confused about what you stand for if you do this.
13. Be active on other people’s communities. If you want to be seen and noticed, you have to go find other people, not hope that they will come to you. If your audience hangs out on a niche social network site, get involved there and in turn they may come into your community if you build effective relationships on their site first.
14. Listen, then engage. If there is a breaking news story in your industry, a massive online attack on your brand, or a common theme to your listeners’ questions/comments, understand them and then engage.
15. Network with other influencers. Once you have become influential in some degree, begin speaking with others that are already there.
16. Share your ideas. Long gone are the days where we secretly held in every trade secret. Today, it is best to share your knowledge and help everyone around you grow and improve. If you help your industry as a whole improve, then you are in turn helping yourself and your business.
17. Make friends. The more you can enhance a friendship online (and continue it offline) the better you will fare online. If you appear to just be networking for the sake of getting fans and retweets, people will quickly pick up on that and be turned off. However, if you are genuine and building friendships, people will like you and want to talk to you.
18. Give more than you get. The more you can share news and expertise, the better. If you can help your audience, they will appreciate that and that appreciation can go miles towards building your online influence.
19. Use social media to compliment existing message channels. Just because social media is hot now doesn’t mean you should abandon your traditional ways of reaching others. If you are used to interacting with your audience via forums, email, podcasts and events, keep doing those. You can use social media to continue those relationship and gain new ones.
20. Make something worth talking about. David Meerman Scott calls this a ‘worldwide rave.’ If you can create novel, interesting content, others will talk about it and share. If you are simply reposting content that others already put out, you won’t attract many viewers.
What are some ways that you have built your online influence? Have you implemented any of the above 20 methods? If so, which worked best/worst for your or your company?