How to Build Influence Through Social Media

by Jonathan Tyler |


In the past, developing influence and leadership presence in a target audience or industry was highly dependent on relationships with key contacts, access to intellectual chokepoints, and in the end, a penchant for great press. These are assets that largely require luck, and never really give leaders a way to build a relationship with an audience in real time.

Social media changed all that. Especially today, with social platforms reaching maturity, leaders have more access than ever to just-in-time communication with their most valuable followers. It’s all about word-of-mouth. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that “word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.” By becoming a leading voice in your sphere of influence, you’ll create an interactive loop that leads readers back to your advice, and your company. Taking advantage of a robust social strategy can give you huge breakthroughs – and amplify your voice in ways traditional media never dreamed of.


Your Voice

Social media gives us the unique opportunity to say basically whatever we want, whenever we want to say it. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing. In the cacophony of blogs, online media, network commentary, you must give priority to building a social leadership strategy that capitalizes on succinct, valuable content. Your writing should cut through the BS of constant media chatter, and truly seek to inform and benefit the audience. Audiences looking for leaders to follow know a fake when they see it, so seek to be authentic – and stick to what you know.


Further the Conversation

An clear, original voice is an awesome resource when deployed effectively. But no one will listen to you and believe in your leadership skills if you’re not saying something compelling. Use your social media platforms to develop a conversation, to push it to it’s furthest boundaries. Simply regurgitating someone else’s thoughts is basically just helping whoever that person is with their leadership goals. Feel free to align yourself with a school of thought, and certainly find ways to associate yourself with an influencer, but always make the main goal of your social posts to say something that matters, and that leads the reader to think something new and valuable.


Authenticity Leads to Influence

Building leadership through social media is essentially the same as building influence. By displaying your expert knowledge and leadership you gain trust from your audience. Using that clear open voice encourages your audience to see your honesty and integrity. With that trust, followers accustomed to hearing from you via those platforms will look there to hear more on subjects that matter to them, and you’ll get access to participate in conversations at a more transparent level. Use your leadership skills to build up individuals in your network that are struggling – listen to their worries and speak to them.


Connection is the Goal, Not Distraction

As thought leadership guru Jay Baer notes: “Remember, social media is about people, not logos. That’s why the most powerful form of social capital is personal, not corporate.” Ultimately, your leadership skills will shine through in social posts by making real, human connections. When followers or network contacts reach out, respond! This makes it all real, and will lead to real world, offline relationships that help both parties grow. Don’t use your social platforms as a one way communication tool, take in as much as you put out.

In the end, no social leadership strategy should be treated as a megaphone. Listen, listen, listen! Mine your communities for topics, concerns, trends – anything that can be accumulated and used to inform better interactions with your network, and could also have potential for improving your own business model. This process should be seen as not just frivolous time-wasting, but a value-driven formula for leading your business and your audience.

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