How to Become an Online Influencer: 20 Power Players Share Social Media Strategies

Social media possesses the ability to transcend nearly all demographic boundaries. A viral tweet often doesn't occur simply within a specific audience. It receives countless re-tweets and shares from people spanning different age ranges, economic backgrounds, genders, and locations. The most powerful social media influencers understand this and build their following through specially crafted posts and interacting with those who subscribe to their account. Becoming an online influencer doesn't happen overnight. There's no set timeframe for becoming a power player on Instagram, Twitter or other social media accounts. However, there are ways to become influential within these communities. Here are 20 quotes from social media power players on their own strategies and the best way to grow a user’s social community.

1. “Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.” – Bonnie Sainsbury

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Becoming an online influencer through social media, at least for a business owner, requires the accounts to direct specifically towards their current customers. The idea is to cultivate the relationship between customer and business. It places a personal, human face on the business, especially when the company openly interacts and responds to posts, shares or comments. Eventually, by helping this digital relationship along, it may eventually lead to a customer sharing company posts to their friends and their own followers. In essence, it works as free advertising, and new customers are more likely to listen to their friend’s recommendation rather than that of an advertisement.

Loyalty doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and persistence. Eventually though, when followers begin to share the company content with others, it not only spurs on potential sales, but it also may bring in additional followers, which helps build online influence.

2. “Transparency may be the most disruptive and far-reaching innovation to come out of social media.” – Paul Gillin

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Customers want to do business with a transparent company. They want to know what the business is about and what goes into the products or services they are purchasing. Social media helps with this. However, there are some companies that use social media to try and mask what they do. This, in the long run, will backfire. When it becomes obvious the face a company puts on its social media is nothing more than a fake, they will turn away and any online influence built up will go along with it.

On the flip side, remaining transparent will show customers exactly what’s going on. If a problem pops up on the production line, a transparent company will come off better than one covering it up. Showing how production works, where products are sourced from and also what goes into the making of a product or service. Remaining open and transparent is one of the most important things a business can do. Social media allows a company to do exactly that. As Paul Gillin says, it’s a far-reaching innovation that not enough businesses take advantage of, but those that do, when executed properly, will reap the rewards.

“3. If you are not on social media and you are not learning, not laughing, not being inspired, not networking then you are using it wrong.” -Germany Kent

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Social media is a powerful tool. However, as Germany Kent points out, far too many people are using it in a wrong way. They self-promote in a single tweet and that’s about it. Or maybe they use it all in a business sense. Some social media sites are dedicated to that, such as LinkedIn. However, there is so much more to the world of social media. Even for a company, social media sites provide an abundance of ways to network and to learn. Looking at what posts perform and even how the competition uses successful tweets or Facebook posts can help the business learn and evolve its own business practice.

“Not laughing” is a key statement in Mrs. Kent’s quote. She points to the importance of laughter. A well-placed tweet can build a social media account by making others smile. George Takei is one example, in that he built a social media empire on Facebook and Twitter simply by sharing and posting humorous content. The fast food chain, Wendy’s, has grown its social media platform by sharing funny tweets and even making funny tweets directed at its competition. In today’s world, people want to laugh. They want to scroll through their news feed and see funny material. Laughter can help propel a social media account, which is exactly why Germany Kent recommends a user needs to network, learn, be inspired and laugh, all while using social media.

4. “I use social media as an idea generator, trend mapper and strategic compass for all of our online business ventures.” – Paul Barron

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Paul Barron talks about ways he uses social media as a directional path for his online businesses. The power of social media can provide not only a trend mapper but offer an educated account user infinite ideas. By looking at what posts are successful and what posts fall flat, it is possible for an account holder to edit and adjust the company's posts based on what works and what doesn't. It also allows them to monitor the success of the competition and the competitor's posts. This makes it easy to see what the competition is doing, what works for the other businesses and also what they might be doing wrong.

Social media works both as advertising and as a means of connecting with customers. It shouldn’t be just one or the other though. It needs to blend together in order to provide followers with desirable information. With hundreds of millions of people using social media, there’s no better way to test out content and material, nor is there a better location to identify new ideas. In order to become an online influencer, it is important to use the varying platforms to map out new outreach methods.

5. “Social media isn’t a brand strategy. Social media is a channel. While it’s important for a brand to develop something to say, it’s more important to create something that will be heard.” ― David Brier

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As David Brier puts it, far too many companies use social media simply as part of its marketing outreach method. In ways that is fine, but it’s not the best way to connect with new customers and to grow online influence. Instead, companies need to look at social media as a very specific channel.

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of users on any given social media platform. Using social media as a platform to say something isn’t all that beneficial. This is because there are so many other businesses and similar users doing the same. The best way to stand out is to post content designed to be heard. This is content that stands out when someone is scrolling through their social media feed. It is something that catches their eye. Everyone has something to say on social media, but only a few are actually heard. In order to become an online influencer, a business needs to create this content that is designed to be heard.

Not everything works on social media. A business may find out what they thought would be heard ended up falling on deaf ears, which is alright. As previous quotes have pointed out, it is important to learn from social media and to take into account what works and what doesn't. Moving forward, future posts need to take what a business has learned in order to improve the quality of "hearable" posts.

6. “Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not just support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence” – Sean Gardner

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Sean Gardner wants businesses to know that social media isn’t just an activity that pulls time away from other tasks at the office. It is, in fact, a valuable investment of time and resources. When executed properly, it is possible to grow a brand and to increase both sales and followers. Because so many businesses see it as an activity, they don’t put much thought into what they place online. Instead, a business looking to become an online influencer (even if it is a business of one), needs to bring in people who understand the importance of social media. This way, it is possible to not just toss up mundane content to social platforms simply because that’s what a business is “suppose to do,” but to really wow subscribers and potential customers with its online presence.

Not everyone who follows an account is going to become a customer. However, for every additional subscriber, follower, friend and so on, it makes it that much easier to connect with additional individuals who will become a customer. That’s the power of social media and why the only way to become an online influencer is to devote time and energy to the different accounts.

7. “If you love what you do and have a sincere interest in those individuals that you meet along the journey, then not only will you benefit by your own efforts, but those you surround yourself with will be blessed with your knowledge and friendship.” – Dede Watson

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Dede Watson's quote may sound more like a reference to traditional business management, but she used it specifically when referencing social media. In fact, she phrased it like this because social media connections cultivated along the long journey of running a business can, and often are, just as important. Digital connections and relationships in the modern world of business may prove just as important as a physical one. Over time, a business may discover it relies on these connections more than in-person connections. This is especially the case for an eCommerce business or an Internet-specific company.

Businesses need to see the relationships built on social media as just as important and just as real as those in the physical world. The connections should not be discounted due to how the connection formed. The sooner a business realizes this, the easier it becomes to growing its online influence.

8. "Entrepreneur, your distinction can be found on twitter so, is your thought leadership impressing or depressing?”- Onyi Anyado

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People, both in person and online, want to surround themselves with upbeat individuals. They don’t want to constantly see negative posts as someone who is posting depressing information ends up depressing the follower. That should never be the drive of someone placing content online. Many who post negative or depressing information online may not actually realize it at the time, but this hurts their online impression more than it helps.

It is important for a social media user to take a step back and analyze the content they post. Is it impressing or depressing? Is it positive or negative? By moving from depressing content to impressing, positive posts, a business will instantly boost their online influence as it makes more users want to follow the account.

9. “Humility, gentleness, and helpfulness go so much further and open doors you cannot imagine. Think from a higher level and try to see beyond today. Some hard work and insight will bring you to paths that will reward you so highly, it’ll make the little inconvenience you incurred so worth it.” – Ann Tran

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Ann Tran understands that looking into other social media accounts and putting in time for research can and often does come off as an inconvenience. However, she notes that by putting in the hard work to this seemingly inconvenient task, it will pay off in the end. She suggests using the information obtained through social media research and using it in helpful, beneficial posts. Much like the last post, it is important to stay positive and to provide content a potential subscriber will like.

Far too many businesses and owners simply look at what can be accomplished during a single day. Due to this, research on social media platforms may not appear helpful at all. However, for someone to become an online influencer, it is necessary to look past the numbers of the day. No, this research will not help build follower numbers on the same day, but it will help build numbers and reach additional users over time, and this is what makes all the research worthwhile.

10. ”Active participation on Linkedin is the best way to say ‘look at me!’ without saying ‘look at me!’ “- Bobby Darnell

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Bobby Darnell understands the importance of standing out in a world of people trying to stand out. However, far too many want-to-be social media influences try too hard at this. The problem with this is it becomes readily apparent, which may turn off a good number of potential subscribers. This is especially the case with LinkedIn.

Some social media platforms cater to those who are constantly looking for attention. Instagram, Twitter, and others (especially visually based platforms) make it easier for those who obviously want the attention to stand out. However, LinkedIn is a professional platform, and clamoring for more attention not only doesn't work, but it comes off as unprofessional. However, there is another way to say, “look at me” without saying it.

By staying active on LinkedIn, it helps keep a business (or individual) continually in the spotlight. This material needs to provide followers with helpful information. It won't do much good if the content is simply published to remain in the spotlight. When this happens then it does appear as if a person is saying, "Look at me!" But, if the content provides some sort of helpful information, then it's simply a beneficial service to followers while always keeping the poster front and center. For someone looking to build their LinkedIn influence, this is one of the best ways to do that.

11. “Social Media Strategy isn’t rocket science…but it might as well be if you don’t know what you’re doing.”(Small Business Owner's Guide to Killing It Online: Quick Tips, Cool Techniques & Advice for Entrepreneurs That Help You Stand Out From the Crowd) ― Sherree Mongrain

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For a select few, rocket science is an unfathomable idea that is so far beyond the reach of understanding it might as well be impossible. Sherree uses this as an example of social media strategy. In order to post content to social media accounts and to help build influence, it is important to strategize. Doing this helps uncover what might prove beneficial in posts. However, if an account user doesn't understand social media strategy, it might as well be rocket science. That is exactly why she uses it as a reference. It isn't difficult at all to uncover and learn social media strategy, but for those who refuse to learn, they never will accomplish what they want to through social media.

Becoming an online influencer doesn’t happen overnight. Many of the people who have amassed hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers, have done so over years of trial and error, learning from their posts and continually pushing forward. Other users just see the end result and the massive follower numbers. Outside of major celebrities who can gain these numbers with the flip of a switch, it takes time, effort and energy, much of which derives from social media strategy. It serves as the first step to building influence.

12. “Everyone starts out with nobody listening to them and nobody to listen to. How and who you add determines what Twitter will become for you.” – Laura Litton

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When first starting up a social media account, seeing that big “0” looking back in the follower section can seem daunting. After all, how can someone build their following from zero up to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions? For starters, as Laura Litton points out, it is important to take it one step at a time. The often-used quote of, “Rome was not built in a day” stands true here. The most powerful online influencers did not gain their influence overnight. It took time, and it required them to build their social media presence one follower at a time.

However, it is important for businesses and individuals looking to boost their online influence to understand it’s extremely important to focus on whom they follow. For starters, it is good practice to follow the competition. This makes looking into the analytical data of the performance these users experience far easier. A new account holder that learns from these posts, monitors hashtag usage and looks at what content receives the most user engagement sets themselves up for future success. On the flip side, following less than ideal accounts can prove costly. Often times, the accounts one user follows is openly viewable to others. Politicians in recent years have found themselves in trouble for following less than desirable accounts (for example, Ted Cruz, a 2016 Republican running for the party’s presidential nomination, had a Twitter account that followed several adult video stars (Time, 2017), which may have cost him some support).

Laura Litton makes it perfectly clear that everyone starts out with nothing. It’s about how a new account builds itself up that helps build a strong foundation and establish itself as a future online influencer.

13. “At best, you should spend a minimum amount of time on social media each day – just enough to keep your army of followers engaged and growing.”- Kevin J. Donaldson

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The only way to stay connected with people online is to remain ever-present. One of the biggest problems those looking to become online influences run into is not remaining in the spotlight. Kevin J. Donaldson points out the only way to stay in front of customers and followers is to actually spend time on social media every single day. This time is an investment as there are likely other tasks a business owner can execute. However, it is impossible to become an online influencer if they never post. Mr. Donaldson also makes sure to point out it isn’t always necessary to spend hours at a time on social media. But a power user needs to at least set aside a certain amount of time to cultivate the connection between followers. This keeps the growing army of followers engaged and growing. The only way to grow is to post new content with new hashtags. Every day that goes by without a new post or new hashtags is a missed opportunity. It’s also another day for current followers to forget.

14. "By giving people the power to share we are making the world more transparent.”- Mark Zuckerberg

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This quote comes directly from Facebook creator himself, Mark Zuckerberg. The ability to constantly share content with others does help make the world more transparent. Some might argue social media has caused new problems as well, but for businesses and online users who understand the importance of transparency, they embrace it and take full advantage of it.

Social media does provide people with a new outlet to stay connected. While most accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, started out as a way for people to connect with friends, it has grown into a way for businesses to stay connected with customers as well. It levels the playing field, as business and individual user alike are a single account. The larger business needs to understand this and remain as transparent as possible. To do this, the business account needs to take advantage of the power of sharing, and not just through advertisements. Through insights and helpful suggestions, the average user might not have known. Home Depot provides how-to suggestions on its social media accounts. The head of T-Mobile offers food recipes, he dubs "Slowcooker Sunday.” Staying transparent, staying open and providing helpful content will always bring in more followers and build influence.

15. “Going viral is not an outcome; it’s a happening. Sometimes it happens; sometimes it doesn’t. Just remember, fans are vanity and sales are sanity.” –
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People try way too hard to "go viral." This is the point of Lori Taylor. They create content and post it specifically in an attempt to go viral. It’s true, some people are instantly successful. Quite often, those “viral” posts are put up by celebrities who know celebrity blogs will pick up on the post and run with it. Most accounts don’t have this kind of luxury though, so putting up content in hopes of thousands of people re-tweeting and re-posting is not always practical. Mrs. Taylor indicates that in reality, going viral is not a viable outcome. It’s something that either happens or doesn’t. Lori also points out that a business account shouldn’t constantly post content in hopes of going viral, especially if it alienates its current (and potentially future) customers. Instead, Lori wants business account users to remember that fans are vanity and sales are sanity. What she means is that while going after more fans with a viral post is one thing, the entire purpose of a social media account is to drive sales.

It is better to slowly grow influence and to grow sales than to go for the home run viral post and not reach any sales at all. The one problem with a viral post is many new subscribers that come from such a post may not be fans of the company or the products it produces. Influence is one thing, but influence within the company’s target audience and key community is something totally different. A general with a smaller, but loyal, army will always defeat a general with a larger, but not loyal, one.

16. “The key to engaging content? Think bigger, bolder and braver.” – Ann Handley

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There are hundreds of millions of social media accounts out there. Most of these individual accounts want to boost influence and connect with more potential users. How can an individual do this? Standout out in a crowd with similar content is next to impossible, which is exactly why Ann Handley suggests thinking bigger, bolder and braver.

It is important to not alienate the current subscriber base and to not turn off customers. By thinking outside of the box and going bigger, it is possible to create some separation from other companies. What might constitute bigger, bolder and braver for one industry differs from another, so this is up to the business itself to determine what might fit into this definition. By analyzing the successful content of the competition and major online influences within the industry, it should give the growing account holder a better idea as to what they should post that is bigger, bolder and braver.

17. “Visual marketing does not just sell a product or service – it sells an experience around your business.” – Rebekah Radice

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Rebekah wants growing business accounts to understand it isn't about selling a product. It's about selling the experience the product delivers. In other words, it's not selling the steak, it’s selling the sizzle. The beauty of social media is it allows an account holder to post visual content regarding the product. Some of the most successful social media accounts connected to businesses do exactly this.

REI, an outdoor supplier of camping, biking and activity equipment doesn’t just post pictures of bikes and tents on social media (such as Instagram). The company posts images of people enjoying the equipment. It shows followers what they can do with the equipment and ways they may enjoy using a canoe or bike. By showing off these kinds of visuals, REI doesn’t sell the product, they sell the experience.

It doesn’t matter what kind of products a company produces, it is possible to sell the experience on social media and grow the account’s online influence at the same time. A t-shirt company can show people wearing shirts performing different activities (going to sporting events, enjoying dinner or being on the beach, for example). A tire company can show vehicles off-roading, driving through the desert or racing around a track. It’s about focusing on what the product or service allows a buyer to do. It also sets up for some beautiful visuals, which is a great way to increase followers and grow online influence.

18. ”Marketing is still thought of as an expense, sales is still thought as a revenue. We have got to change that.”- Marcus Sheridan

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When cutting costs, the marketing department is often one of the first to be targeted. This is because marketing is seen as an expense. However, as Marcus Sheridan points out, this needs to change. In fact, marketing should not be seen as an expense but instead, a means of outreach. On the back end, sales are seen as revenue, but in reality, it is the tail end of the outreach practice. Generally, one does not survive without the other. Without quality outreach, sales will suffer.

Marketing doesn’t always require money. It may just require time. Marketing through social media can pave major dividends to the backend and sales. Posting quality content on social media doesn’t need to cost money, but it does require an investment in time. By not looking at marketing as an expense, a company can see it as a necessity and a bridge to revenue. It just takes the necessary investment of time.

19. “You are what you tweet.”- Germany Kent

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Advice this good warrants a second nod to Germany Kent. Once a tweet goes up, it’s up forever. Even if a tweet is eventually deleted, a record of the tweet likely remains. As an account becomes more powerful and influence grows, more and more people will see this tweet. Major celebrities have continually run into this problem, of posting a tweet, then removing it after thinking better. These tweets, even the deleted ones, may come back and haunt the poster, because as Germany Kent points out, “You are what you tweet.”

Twitter is a powerful tool to provide quick bursts of information. However, in order to remain influential, it is necessary to always double and triple think about every tweet before posting it. By considering how people might perceive the tweet, it is easier to avoid negative PR. The current President of the United States is an avid Twitter user and other nations have indicated tweets the president puts out as official statements (Reuters, 2017). While this is an example at the highest scale, it is important for all Twitter users to realize they are what they tweet.

20. “We spend 80% of our time developing content and only 15% sharing it.”- Ian Cleary

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It takes time to produce a quality blog. From research to editing, it may take someone several hours (if not more) to write out an excellent blog. However, they may then just take a handful of minutes to share it. It is sent to Facebook and LinkedIn, and then from there the creator forgets about it and moves on. However, as Ian Cleary points out, more time needs to go into sharing the content. In order to receive the greatest return on investment for the time it takes to produce a quality blog, the creator needs to share it, highlight it and connect with other social media users. This way, writing the blog or producing the YouTube video isn’t just lip service that goes for not.

In Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to grow a social media account and, eventually, become an online influencer. However, it’s important for a business or single user to understand becoming an online influencer doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and dedication to achieve all of this. By following the advice of these 20 different social media influences, it is possible to quicken the pace, grow subscribers and, most importantly, connect with followers who are interested in the services and products a company provides. No matter what industry or how new the company is, each and every one of these suggestions can go a long way in building online influence.

Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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