Social media is a place most people go to escape from the outside world. Memes, cat videos, and political banter serve as a distraction from the responsibilities of our daily lives.
But what if there was a way to use social media as a tool? A way to connect with like-minded people. To build influence. To become a respected leader in your space.
The opportunity is ripe for the taking. But unfortunately, very few take advantage of it.
Many self-development gurus point to Dale Carnegie’s worldwide best-seller How to Win Friends and Influence People as a way to learn how to cultivate such an impact.
But when I went to my local library, the book was nowhere in sight. I was too slow. Someone else got their slimy hands on it before I could.
But there was good news. An updated adaptation was still available — How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age.
What I read over those next few weeks transformed the way I view social media and communication in general. In fact, it serves as the perfect launching pad if you want know how to build influence on social media.
Here are a few key principles discussed in the book, along with tips from those who have done it themselves.
Discuss What Matters to Them
Social media makes it painfully simple to blast out your thoughts in the heat of the moment. For that reason, it’s easy to hop on Twitter and spew out a lengthy diatribe complaining about your problems.
In Carnegie’s book, business strategist Valeria Maltoni writes, “True influence flows from drawing together people with shared interests.” The fact is that if you want to build influence, you cannot think that it’s all about you. Rather, you should focus on fostering a sense of community.
But to do this, you must first establish what matters to you. What are you good at? What are you passionate about? And above all, what is the message you want to share?
Then, understand that’s it’s not just about the initial connection. Instead of viewing every follower as a +1 on your digital scoreboard, you need to establish a long-term game plan.
In the corporate world this is called customer retention. And it comes from engaging in a meaningful dialogue with your community.
Justin C Scott, writer, storyteller, and entrepreneur, has amassed over 2,000 Twitter followers in less than two months by following this simple strategy. “Find like-minded people and network with them,” he writes. “Provide them value and give them a reason to want to engage with you. You’ll succeed much faster.”
Danny Roars, founder of Online Money All-Stars, has built a sizable community of his own. “Provide value daily and connect with like-minded individuals. Treat Twitter like what it is — a network for you to expand your reach, influence, and message.”
Roars also takes it a step further. “Try to take your connections off of Twitter as much as possible. Interact with others through email, phone/Skype calls, and in person.”
Nail your message, cultivate meaningful relationships, and watch your influence begin to grow.
Leave Others a Little Better
Above all, it’s important to focus on your own motives. Why do you want to build influence? You’re most likely motivated by what’s possible with a large audience of engaged followers.
But you need to remember that, just like you, others are thinking in their own best interest. You are motivated by the bigger picture, while they are motivated by how you can benefit them.
They are always asking themselves, “what can this person do for me?” “How valuable is my relationship with this person?”
That’s why it’s incredibly important to provide value on a consistent basis. Like they say in the movie business, you’ve got to give the people what they want.
“I would say find something you can provide a unique perspective and value on, and unapologetically share it in your own unique voice,” one entrepreneur suggests. “And if you do that in your own voice and showcase your personality, the right people will find you and latch on to you like crazy.”
James Holt, a 19-year-old eCommerce wiz and founder of Start Selling Stuff, encourages you to zero in on one thing. “Start with a narrow focus. Until you have 1000+ followers, post nothing but tweets in that one area you focus on.”
Likewise, Chris Hines, creator of The Entrepreneur Foundation Program, echoes Holt’s sentiment. “Be specific in what you’re about. Find a topic and be known for it. That’s the easiest way to sustain an audience.”
Nate Schmidt, a college dropout who makes a six-figure salary in online business, puts it in simpler terms — “Have something other people want but don’t know how to get.”
Provide others with value and leave them better than you found them. You’ll be surprised how far it takes you.
Share Your Journey
Dale Carnegie’s book shares the story of Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes:
“One afternoon in an airport waiting area Mycoskie noticed a girl wearing a red pair of his shoes. Without revealing his identity, he asked about them. The girl told him the whole story behind TOMS in such detail that it rivaled his own description of the company.”
The power of his story had left a lasting impression on this girl. She was so moved by TOMS’ message that, in an airport conversation with a random stranger, she pitched the benefits of his company almost better than he could.
Later on, business strategist Valeria Maltoni dissects the power of Mycoskie’s story:
“People remember. And when a message is a mission, they will tell your story to anyone who will hear it… And by doing that, they become your strongest advocates… The lesson: influence is given.”
Heavyweight boxer, author, and speaker Ed Latimore understands the power of an authentic message. His mission to help others develop mental fortitude and confidence inspired him to write his book “Not Caring What Other People Think Is A Superpower“.
Latimore advises aspiring influencers to gain life experience before taking on a leadership role. “Have something valuable to say from what you’ve learned in your life. This the idea of skin in game. Live it before you speak.”
Tej Dosa, a successful online entrepreneur, shares a more tactical approach. “Find a core corner of Twitter full with a group of people who aspire to get the results you’ve already gotten,” he explains.
“Then position yourself as the high-value leader in that core group. How? Identify the 4-5 high-value leaders the group of people already look up to.”
“Then, create a high-value thread that showcases the results you got and tells your story. In that thread, tag those high-value leaders. And one retweet is all it takes to get you on the map. Exactly what I did to go from 0 to 275 followers overnight!”
That very thread is one in which Dosa tells his story — a captivating tale of how he turned a measly $1,000 into $89,263.12. In it, he shares his ascension from aspiring entrepreneur to six-figure marketing master.
Share your story and others will be happy to share theirs. Together, you will begin to create a new, larger story. Carnegie puts it best — “When your journey is our journey, we are both compelled to see where it goes.”
All in all, the lessons shared above are just the tip of the iceberg. To become a true master of human relations and watch your influence spread like wildfire, you need to read How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age.
So, what’s the first step you’ll take to apply this advice to building your influence on social media? Comment below.
Full disclosure: some of the above links are affiliate products, meaning we earn a commission if you decide to buy them. These are all books I have read myself and I wouldn’t promote anything I didn’t think would be incredibly valuable to you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!
Finally, a special thanks to those who kindly answered my questions and made this article possible.