Learning From Power Users And Influencers

There has been some good feedback from readers about the social media power users and influencers series – and I plan to continue writing these to share more smart, influential people with you.  The real value here isn’t to scan my posts though, the value is to study what makes these people successful in spreading ideas so you can learn what they do right.

Before drafting additional parts in this series, I thought it would be interesting to note some things I have learned from studying influencers who are successful at spreading ideas across platforms.  These are takeaways if you too seek to build a trusted following:

Be positive

People are tired of those who are overly negative, cynical or jaded.  Simply put, the world has enough of that – be the change you want to see, and others will gather around you.  Optimism spreads to others just as negativity does.

Be relentless

The influencers that are making a difference are relentless in their agenda to spread ideas.  They are also incredibly consistent.  My sense is that they are able to be this way due to unrelenting passion (a secret of the social web).

Be professional

This is actually not always the case for influential people in our world, however for the people I have been documenting (mostly those in media, marketing and PR industries) I would say this is a requirement.

Refine and fine-tune as you move forward

While professionalism is a common thread, there also appears to be no fear in trying out new things and making changes as-needed.  The open nature of the web encourages and rewards this.

You don’t start out on top

I’ve witnessed the rise of many talented people in the last several years who seemed to come out of nowhere.  However, to those of us who had followed them from the beginning, we saw them work hard to get to that point.  Overnight success is a myth, and if you’re just discovering someone today, in many cases this is because they have worked hard to get to that point.

It’s not about popularity

It’s trendy right now to try to be an influencer on the web.  However, just because it is trendy doesn’t mean it is easy to develop real influence, authority and trust – just the opposite.  Time always shakes those in it fleetingly out of the mix vs. those who have a genuine interest in whatever they are sharing.  Competition actually shouldn’t bother you, because the real value of your network is not about numbers.  In fact, if you’re genuinely interested in sharing ideas for intrinsic reasons, even connecting with one person will be rewarding if it is a meaningful connection.

Collaboration is key

The web gives birth to many informal networks, where content sharing happens naturally.  Many systems create this by design, in others it happens because of a shared interest or commonality.  The point is that sharing, participating and working together with others – both informally and formally – are vital ways to forge connections.

Growth is part of the journey

It’s not about being perfect from the get-go, rather it is about a journey together – publicly within our industries – whatever they may be.  Influencers are documenting experiences as they go, something that inspires their networks and creates interest around what they are doing.  It’s a total shift from the way things were done before, and many don’t quite grasp why someone would be interested in doing this openly, but those doing so know that the benefits far outweigh any potential negatives.  In any industry, the ones who are comfortable sharing their experiences with the world are seen as leaders because of the confidence it implies, the willingness to be transparent with their processes, and generosity of sharing ideas – all qualities of modern leaders (confidence, transparency, generosity).

Build community

Eventually, if you work hard enough, a supportive community will form around you that will be interested in playing an active role in what you’re doing (and you’ll want to play a role in what they are doing).

Empower your audience

The best influencers nurture and empower their communities over time.  More important than just having an audience, but calling them to action and bringing them into the mix is key to build lasting connections.

I have focused thus far on those involved in marketing, media and PR because that’s the industry I’m a part of and most interested in, but I plan to open the scope of this even further in future rounds of influencers.  Also, there’s no reason you couldn’t start doing this for your own industry.  It’s a great way to connect your audiences with people you find interesting, which is always of high value to all parties.  Don’t assume because you know who all the key people are everyone does, this is almost never the case.

Related posts from The Future Buzz:

Matt Cutts Is Representative Of Next Generation PR

Interview With A Pro Blogger: Sarah Perez

The Shift Of Trusted, Influential Media: From Brands To People

Related posts from around the web

Is your social media activity a safety net? (Being Peter Kim)

As Marketing Shifts Back to the Everyman (Chris Brogan)

An Essential Marketing Principle: Give Before You Try to Get (Dosh Dosh)