No longer is your social importance measured solely by the number of followers you have. More important than quantity is the quality of engagement you have with the people who follow you. Resources such as Klout, measure this level of engagement as a way to quantify your influence. Social influence is the effect you have on others’ emotions, opinions and behaviors. One of the most well-known influencers is Oprah. She can recommend a book or product, and immediately her followers are buying.
Influence is important for several reasons. Managers need influence to encourage the people who work with them to get things done. Bloggers vie for influence to get sponsors. Ultimately, the benefit of social influence in your small business is that it can set yourself apart as an expert and leader. Here are a few things you can do to gain social influence.
- Give value. The more you give, the more you’ll get in return. Some people like to hold on to their best stuff to sell in their business. But don’t be afraid to give your followers useful, helpful tips that will benefit them. The more value you give, the more your followers will engage and tell others.
- Share the love. While you should share your own business ideas and tips, sharing information from other resources will show that you pay attention to your industry and want to give the best information to your followers regardless of the source. The people whose information you share, will often return the favor.
- Engage with influencers. Don’t follow or comment with the top experts in your field simply for the goal of getting them to recommend you or pull you up to their level. Remember, influence is earned. Instead, connect, share and discuss information and ideas with others in your industry. When they see you know what you’re talking about or feel you have something of value to share (#1), they’ll engage with you as well.
- Tap into emotion. Influencers often have evangelist followers, not in the religious sense, but in the sense that these people believe in and are excited about the influencer. Building an engaged excited following requires tapping into emotions, whether its sharing happy, funny or even angry information, although be careful about being negative too often.
- Be approachable. Influence is about people listening to you, and the best way to that is to listen to them. Pay attention to their needs, which will allow you to deliver value (#1). Respond to and engage with them. Followers that feel heard are more likely to engage with you and share your information with others, thereby expanding your influence.
Social influence is something most business people want, but it’s not obtained simply through tweeting at the right times of day or buying the most followers. Instead, influenced is earned, little by little, through authentic sharing of information, tips and other items of interest to followers. It grows slowly, but if done right, is strong, and becomes a powerful force in growing your business.