Aim to Influence on Social Media

In our previous post, Creating Social Media Community, we finished talking about creating our Social Media 4 C’s, Content, Context, Connection, and Community. In this post we explore what you can do with your community.

Mari Smith influence

Aim to Influence

One of your goals for your online community — whether you create your own or use an existing social media site — is to influence people. We’ve talked about having goals for your social net­working efforts, which involves figuring out what activities you want people to take. So how do you influence your community and spark them to action?

The first step is to be sure you invest before you make a withdrawal. By this we mean, don’t just jump in with both feet and start asking for commitments. Remember, the point of social media is relationships, so a far better tactic is to start getting involved by establishing yourself as a resource.

Don’t just post, engage with the community. Get to know various influential members, and offer advice, information and other value. You might, for example, give away something for free, perhaps a white paper, or maybe just a blog post that addresses common community concerns. Other ideas for con­tributing include:

  • Break news — Draw people’s attention to significant news about your product or service category or just in general can help establish your value to the community
  • Offer trial versions — Depending on your community, and your business, you can add value for offering trial access to content, discounted access to events, or other freebies
  • Create How-To’s — Produce a series of how-to blog posts that are relevant to your community and that they will find valuable

It’s a good idea when engaging in this way to enable community members to take action just as long as this is not seen as the primary reason for your interaction with them. When enabling action online, be sure to give details up front and ensure that the action is specific, and able to be completed online right away. For example, you can include a link to the eCommerce section of your Website in your signature for posts.

On the other hand, avoid pitching offline actions that take a bit more effort to complete. For example, if you want people to buy, include a Buy button rather than a message such as, “click here to email someone to find out how to buy” since this requires a more lengthy, or offline, follow up.

The bottom line is that you need to be a part of the community, and accepted by the community, before you start asking for commitment. Imagine two door-to-door donation solicitation scenarios. In one, a stranger appears at your door selling magazine subscriptions; in the other, your neighbor (or neighbor’s kid) appears. Which would be more likely to get you to buy? It’s the same online. Become a neighbor first before asking.

Aim to Influence on Social Media is the 58th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 180. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

See the previous posts What is Social Media?Social Sites DefinedWhy Social Media? How is Social Media Relevant to Business? First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy, and Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing, pt. 1

Next up: Partner and Cross-Promote on Social Media