Influence is a sometimes elusive trait that can have a great impact on how you are perceived in the public eye. A company can have excellent brand recognition, but to have real influence in the marketplace and use it to the best advantage takes a combination of skill, strategy, and a sometimes unconventional approach to marketing.
Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter provide today’s businesses with an unparalleled opportunity to connect with their public in ways that were hardly imagined even a few years ago. However, this medium must be used wisely and with precision or you will become just another drone tweeting out into the vast universe that is cyberspace.
Popularity on social media sites is not necessarily an indicator of influence; it is meaningless unless you can connect with people in a substantial and lasting way. To have true influence isn’t measured in the number of people who like you or follow you, but in your credibility and how you use your notoriety to shape their perceptions.
That level of influence that can be measured by the amount of engagement you have with the public; in the exchange of comments and ideas, in the number of people who take the information you give them and share it with others, and in the number of people who look to you, specifically, for that information.
Websites like Klout and Kred can track your level of influence on social media sites by collecting and compiling data on such indicators as likes, re-tweets, shares, and comments, as well as reporting on hot trends in all media formats so that you can use these trends to your advantage.
Learn and Use the Art of Influence
The secret to having real and lasting influence is not simply that you communicate with people; it is in how you communicate with people. Here are a few simple pointers to help you learn to develop and use the ability to influence people as part of your overall marketing and branding strategy.
1. Image is everything, but that image must have substance behind it in order to be influential. Be the person that people go to for answers, and have the answers they need. Be assertive yet flexible and instill trust in people, but never abuse their trust. Create an aura of true leadership, but never appear to be out-of-touch and unreachable.
2. Clarity and consistency are essential. Your message should be clear and everything you do should relate back to your original mission statement. Never lose focus or forget why you do what you do; the public and the people in your corporation should know that they can rely on you to mean what you say.
3. Remember the saying “No man is an island.” Treat everyone with integrity and respect. Make employees, contemporaries, and customers not only know, but feel, that they are an integral part of the success of your enterprise. Share and exchange ideas and opinions freely.
4. Don’t forget the importance of face2face events. You can have a million followers on Twitter and still not make a lasting impact if you don’t affect them personally in some way. The best way to make a real connection with people is still by networking the old-fashioned way. This means attending events and conferences and interacting with people on a one to one basis; getting to know them and their concerns, sharing your own ideas, and building personal and lasting business relationships.