I made the lovely trek from Manhattan to Brooklyn last night with a friend I haven’t seen since college. We ironically found out this whole time we have been living five blocks from each other (which is a very big deal in NYC). He’s a drummer in a band, and I’m a social media strategist → So we had plenty to talk about comparing our two completely different paths we’ve taken in life. An interesting thing that came up was the fact that he’s seen that I’ve become influential in social. This sparked a conversation about what that exactly meant, and what my unique view on influence truly is.
I answered by saying influence isn’t about numbers to me, or making more money. Influence to me is about impacting a life on a very one-to-one basis in which someone is truly transformed by something I had to say, and vice versa. It’s not about the interviews, the podcasts, the 130K followers. Yes, those are all amazing, incredible things I’m truly grateful for, but they are not the reasons I consider myself “influential”. They help spread my influence, but they do not define my influence. The day they do, is the day I will no longer be influential, because then I will no longer be authentic, and true to what I’ve built my personal brand around. A sermon I recently saw on influence sums up my definition of it quite well → “Real influence comes when you allow your life to be used to build, serve, strengthen and encourage others.”
I strongly believe that definition can be applied directly to social media influence, too. While some lists love to define influence by the size of the community, you are not truly influential unless you are somehow impacting people within that huge community you’ve built up. Here’s some tips on how to gain true, authentic, real influence:
Define Your Influence
Figure out what you are great at that could help impact the lives of others. You have to know how you want to influence your community, before you can become an influencer. If you’re a brand, what about your products/services changes people’s lives? If you’re a person, what do you have to offer that can truly impact someone?
This is something I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, and will continue to, because it is SO, so important. You have to serve others in order to be a big player in social media. Whether you’re a brand or a person, you have to provide something of value that serves your community.
Strengthen & Encourage Others
Listen, listen, listen. Observe your community and see where you can step in and help. Someone’s having a shitty day? Send them a positive quote. Someone needs something that your brand can offer? Surprise them with your product to help strengthen them.
Spread the love. Once you’ve established influence, find ways you can use it to build others up. Give a voice to a cause that doesn’t have a strong of a voice as yours, and help build it into something great on social.
Not the buzzword authentic, but the real authentic. For clarification, check out How Authenticity Translates Into Social Media. Don’t give into temptation to represent things not true to you once you’ve gained influence. Always remember the definition of your influence that you built off of, and stay true to that. Always remember your roots.
As you can see by the list above, influence is more about others and less about you. That’s why influence plays well in the world of social media where it is all about two-way conversations. A person or brand that enters social media to serve only themselves ends up sounding like some lame advertisement, or ends up building a community that soon could care less about the person/brand because the person/brand has given them no connection point to get them to give a shit.
So, I go back to the conversation I had with my friend in the band last night → I could be on thousands of lists, but at the end of the day, if I’m not positively impacting someone’s life in my social community, than I am no influencer. I am just another member of the “me, me, me” generation cashing in on my narcissism. Which are you going to be?
You can check out the sermon I referenced in this post here –> http://lbcc.org/portfolio-posts/cultivate-influence/
You can read an even more detailed post on personal branding here.
– Marji J. Sherman