In an age where social media permeates virtually every waking hour, our actions on social media are every bit as important as our offline ones.
What can you do to strengthen your personal influence on social media?
How can you improve the way you persuade and lead others in the digital space?
Thanks to the book The 21 Laws of Influence by Hellen Davis, I picked up some evergreen lessons in cultivating influence. These timeless tenets are expressed as laws that teach people how to think, behave, and act in order to grow their personal influence.
Adapting from Hellen’s wonderful body work, I used my knowledge of digital and social media marketing to relate how they could be used grow one’s social media influence.
These principles could be applied to any online leadership or influencing position, regardless of who your stakeholders are.
#1 The Law of Agendas
Agendas help you to provide a plan of action for goals to be achieved. Master influencers make it a priority to control the agenda and influence the outcomes in any relationship. They do not just leave things to chance.
In the social media world, being an influencer requires you to know what you wish to achieve from the onset. Be explicit about what your blog is all about and who it is written for. Be clear about what your Facebook group or LinkedIn community is all about.
#2 The Law of Analysis and Benchmarking
A social media influencer knows precisely which areas she is influential in. She takes note of everything there is to know about her social influence: from web/blog traffic (views, unique visitors), most popular and shared posts, to topics of influence and optimal timing for publishing her posts.
Beyond tracking and monitoring her own social metrics, an influencer also studies what works – and what doesn’t – in the broader social media landscape. By doing so, she benchmarks her efforts and performance against that of others.
#3 The Law of Belief Replacement
An influencer is somebody who can persuade people to change their beliefs. Most people will not change their beliefs unless you can provide an alternative that is equally or more convincing than the one they presently hold.
To convince another person to agree with your ideas, purchase a product, or sign up for your programme, an influencer like you must present sufficient information, compare alternatives, and describe the superiority of a particular idea in a vivid and compelling manner.
#4 The Law of Commitment
People are more likely to listen to what you say and to trust you if they see that you are committed and dedicated to your goals. Commitment demonstrates your personal involvement to the enterprise.
In the social media spaces, commitment is demonstrated by the intensity and fervour of your content creation and sharing. Leading influencers on social media are highly dedicated to their craft. They do not give up even when they feel exhausted, demoralised, or disappointed. This is something which we can all learn from.
#5 The Law of Consistency
Dependability and stability are virtues when it comes to social influence. Your online fans and followers are more likely to trust you if you exhibit a high degree of consistency in your posts, shares, and comments.
Indeed, a person who is highly consistent and focused is often perceived to be more trustworthy, powerful and intelligent.
#6 The Law of Contrast
Leading influencers know that it is easier to convince people to take one path when the contrasts between the two are emphasised and dramatised.
On social media, contrasts can be made by comparing two or more alternatives. You can also demonstrate how much stronger a particular idea, brand or product is relative to a competing one.
#7 The Law of Expectation
Always under promise and over deliver. As an influencer, you need to temper your expectations of others, and raise your expectations of yourself.
Ensure that people get more than what they bargained for when you recommend something on social media. While many of us are tempted to use hyperbole to spice up our content, beware of the danger of excessive trolling or linkbaiting.
#8 The Law of Expertise
Folks who are acknowledged as experts in a particular field are more likely to gain traction on social media in that same arena. People are more likely to listen to, trust, believe and follow social media influencers who have demonstrated expertise in a specific area.
#9 The Law of Friends
Relationships and friendships are vital elements of social influence. If you don’t care for others, it is quite unlikely that others will care about you say.
However, numbers alone doesn’t matter if your referrals and recommendations fail to generate traction. Often, the people who exert the greatest influence on us are close friends and family members.
#10 The Law of Image
Social influencers are personality brands. People are more likely to be engaged by their actions if they are attracted to the way they look or sound.
Rightly or wrongly, how people perceive you as an influencer is determined by how you appear to them physically, intellectually and spiritually. I suppose this is why visual content marketing becomes more significant these days.
#11 The Law of Logic
People are more likely to be influenced by those who possess logic and clarity in their thoughts, words and deeds.
To influence others, the points which you make on social media must make good sense to them. In this regard, social media influencers who are good critical thinkers succeed better than purely emotional rabble rousers.
#12 The Law of People Pleasing
This law can be controversial. After all, isn’t it impossible to please everybody?
In this case, it is important for social influencers to identify who they are reaching out to and to deliver what pleases them. Bend over backwards if you need to, and be gracious and generous to that specific community. Doing so helps you to deepen follower loyalty and likability – a vital trait in social influence.
#13 The Law of Perception
Often, our opinions and responses to what others say online is dependent on our personal experiences, beliefs, values and perspectives. To be an effective social media influencer, you need to plug into the world of your community, and perceive the world as they do.
Demonstrating empathy and understanding of their world views allows you to create targeted and more effective content.
#14 The Law of Prospecting and Networking
As the old saying goes, your net worth is in your network. This is especially true for social media influencers, who depend on their fanbase or followers to trigger action.
Extend your network beyond your immediate circles of friends, colleagues and business associates. Participate in various social communities and actively interact and engage with like-minded others. Doing so helps you to deepen relationships with your community while expanding your influence.
#15 The Law of Reciprocity
A cardinal rule of social influence, reciprocity is that old “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” philosophy in life.
On social media, recipients of gifts (or help) are usually more likely to oblige by repaying those who have given them the gift or helped them. By constantly sharing useful information, tips or leads, social influencers endear themselves to others by the power of reciprocity.
#16 The Law of Satisfaction and Standards
Satisfaction entails being unwilling to settle for anything less than your ideal. When you satisfy others by presenting a solution to their problems, they are likely to gain confidence in you and stop looking around.
In line with satisfying one’s followers, a social media influencer also needs to establish the right standards for his efforts.
What is an acceptable standard for the content which he writes and shares? Are his posts being shared more widely than before? Were there any particular topic or keywords which seem to work better?
#17 The Law of Scarcity
According to the economic principle of supply and demand, people are more willing to pay a higher price for items that are rare, limited or not readily available.
In the same vein, social media influencers who offer something unique yet prized to their followers can generate greater influence that their peers. While being consistent and committed is important, paying attention to the quality of one’s postings also matters.
#18 The Law of Similarity and Attraction
Like attracts like. We are more prone to being influenced by others when they share our beliefs, values and interests. We are also more open to the suggestions made by those with appealing personalities who are attractive to us.
This principle of attraction is the reason why influencers are sometimes known as tribal leaders. As Seth Godin has articulated in his book “Tribes”, social influencers are like heretics who are “engaged, passionate, and more powerful and happier than everyone else”.
#19 The Law of Societal Pressure
Often, our community determines our values and our direction. Societal ethics, moral guidelines and culture play a critical role in determining how we act and behave.
To succeed in any community, social influencers need to be sensitive to societal norms. You need to frame how situations or events are perceived in a way that is socially acceptable to your followers. Thus, it is a fine balance between being outstanding enough to lead your followers while fitting in to their community norms.
#20 The Law of Status
Traditionally, one’s status or importance grants them greater influence. The higher you are in any arena, the more people you are able to influence.
To gain status in the social media arena, it certainly helps if you possess any of the following:
- Power and authority
- Knowledge or expertise
- Wealth and position
- Family and community ties
- Public image or political clout
- Religious or charitable affiliations and/or deeds
- Beauty, attractiveness and/or physical strength
Having said that, status is increasingly obtained from other online indicators. They may include number of followers, rankings on social influencer scoreboards, or awards.
#21 The Law of 3rd Party Endorsement
Last, but certainly not least, the endorsements or testimonials of others help you to build influence. On social networks, such endorsements could come in the form of the sharing of your content, transmission of a particular meme or hashtag which you generate, or other ways of measuring “virality”.
The most prized forms of endorsement would come in the form of an endorsement by a VVIP or an greater social influencer than yourself.
Hope that the above is helpful in shaping how you view social media influence. Are there other laws that we should be mindful of?