On April 10th many of our team members had the chance to attend an American Marketing Association of West Michigan luncheon featuring speaker Jure Klepic.

The Web as we know it is undergoing fundamental change as it moves away from its current structure of information and links. The new Web is being built around people not data; a profound change that impacts business strategy, design, marketing, and advertising. Therefore, Jure contends that influence is no longer about numbers – it’s about people.


So, how can businesses and individuals build influence? The biggest take away from this presentation was that SOCIAL is a way of thinking. You don’t “do” social media.

Jure pointed out that it’s not about the tools or the social networks. It’s about understanding your target customers, what’s important to them and building connections through conversations and listening.

What are sources of online influence and how can they work for or against you?

Sources of influence are all around you. People and media are all in social networks today. Social media’s immediacy allows everyone to spread messages, positive or negative, instantly. This can be great, and not so great. Work to connect with people on a personal level, by talking TO them in social media will help you build influence.

Positive and authentic interaction in social media can create brand advocates, because you know consumers will purchase something when recommended by a friend (or in this case social connection).

For the not so good news, you should monitor your company name, products, even yourself, and you can do so for free using Google Alerts. There are many other paid platforms and monitoring services. But Google is a good one to start with and see what you might be missing.

How have some of the world’s most influential bloggers and industry thought leaders grow their online influence?

Jure mentioned, and I agree, that there really isn’t a strategy to be social, you simply need to be social and engage….Listen and engage. Influential bloggers and thought leaders built their influence by networking in person and via the social web. You can do this too, with time and dedication. It does not happen overnight.

To build influence you need to build trust. Many of today’s most influential bloggers and thought leaders share information – their own and others insights they find helpful, inspirational and worth sharing with their “friends.” Building trust can happen using a company blog, social media connections, and by being the same person when they meet you face to face.

What are some practical strategies you could use to improve your own online presence?

You (or your company) need to own your social presence. Do you share information and talk to people like you would when you see them face to face? Ask how people are doing. How can you help them? Know what they are about and they can do the same for you.

Build connections with people in the same position or with similar interests, just like groups of colleagues or friends. These become online “friends”. And, they can help you build your sphere of influence when you talk about aspects of the business or your personal life that you are talking about in social media.

What if bad things are being said?

Own it. Acknowledge it. And work to improve it. Rather than having a customer tell a friend about a bad experience, now they post it in social networks. Using Google Alerts and monitoring your company name, produces, etc. you can respond in a timely matter. Address it/own it publicly, and then take the conversation offline or in private messages to resolve the issue. Authenticity is critical in todays communication channels.

What’s your experience with social media for your business, or even personally? Any thing to add or tips that you’d like to share here? Please do!