Are you struggling to make your brand stand out in the complicated and sometimes confusing world of online media? Perhaps you've developed a top-notch content strategy and are faithfully maintaining your social media profiles, but you're not building an audience or earning trust as quickly as you had hoped.
You're not alone. Every single influential online personality that you can think of, from Guy Kawasaki to Seth Godin, started from scratch just like you. The clever people at ThoughtLead decided to bring 60 of these power personas together for an expertise-sharing conference called The Influencer Project. Each speaker had only 60 seconds to impart some wisdom on building digital influence, so you can be sure the advice was valuable and focused. Below are 15 of the most helpful sound bites.
Robert Scoble: "Follow better people. The better your inbound is, the better your output will be. And your output is what people follow."
Take a good look at the people you're following. Are they teaching you new things? Are they helping you grow your knowledge in your area of expertise? Don't marry yourself to the common Twitter convention that you need to follow anyone who follows you. Seek out and follow only those who can help you provide value to your audience.
Michael Margolis: "People either identify and connect with your story or they don't. Have a story that's worth telling."
Here's where branding comes in. It's so important to have an interesting story to tell about yourself, your product or how your company started. If you don't have a meaty story that people can sink their hooks into, it's going to be hard to hold their attention.
Nathan Hangen: "Talk about things you know. The reason Wine Library TV worked was because I knew what I was talking about."
It may go without saying, but if you claim to be an authority on a topic then you'd better actually be an authority. Your customers are savvy - they'll quickly figure out if you're a fraud. That's why it's always smart to talk about what you know. If you don't know much about the industry your company operates in, hire an industry expert to manage your brand's communications and to help get you up to speed on the basics until you become an expert yourself.
Gretchen Rubin: "Self-expression is the new entertainment. Get people talking. I had success just asking, 'What's your favorite comfort food?'"
Gretchen Rubin asks a ton of questions. You'll find them on her blog, her Twitter feed and her Facebook page. It's a terrific strategy because people love to talk about themselves. When people open up, several things happen: they build a community around your brand by engaging with each other, they feel heard by you, they develop an affinity for your brand and you get an inside view into their thoughts and feelings. It's a can't-lose situation.
Alexandra Levit: "Target between five and ten people who you admire, whose work you've followed, and gradually start getting to know them."
There are countless ways to start a conversation with people you look up to, such as replying to their tweets and commenting on their blog posts. Be sure your contributions are of high quality to increase the likelihood that your target will want to interact with you. Once you have a few back-and-forth exchanges, you may be able to escalate your relationship and do a guest blog post or two. Guest posting is an extremely effective way to bring new people into your network and expand your influence.
Amber Naslund: "Online influence is a slow burn. It's something that is grown by having quality one-on-one conversations over time."
As with many things, you need patience to build online influence. It won't happen overnight and it will require you to give more than you receive, especially in the beginning. Put effort and attention into your interactions with people and as time passes, your work will pay big dividends.
So, which of these pieces of advice is your favorite? No matter which personality's philosophy most resonates with you, the fact remains that increasing your online influence requires action. So take action today. And again tomorrow. And again the day after that. Pretty soon you'll be in the habit of actively building your influence, and one day you'll look at your latest quota-busting sales report or your mile-long Twitter follower list and you'll know all that action was worth it.