Dale Carnegie first published How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1937. I read it in 1998 during a leadership seminar and the main message has stayed with me: if you want to have influence, become interested in others and see their point of view.
Of course, Carnegie never had social media or the Internet in mind when he wrote that book, but the lessons are playing out in interesting ways today. We all know that the “social Web” has changed communications dynamics. It’s made us all more glued to our devices and computers, but it’s also made companies more social. Of course, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter are the perennial success stories of finding a casual and simple, yet compelling voice.
However, if you look deeper beyond the household names, companies from small businesses to B2B startups and networking giants are becoming more social. Although we are all obsessed with our various social profiles, we have also become more interested in curating content from other sources to highlight and better define our own points of view.
I just came back from lunch with Frank Days from Novell (he’s an awesome marketer to follow @tangyslice) where we talked about this concept at length. He pointed out that in the 1990s, corporate Web sites allocated 80 per cent of their content to company information and 20 per cent to industry information. Today that has flipped. In fact, companies like Novell are curating content from other sources on their Web site to create a conversation around relevant topics for customers and prospects.
This is an important rethinking that can have a dramatic impact on all facets of a marketing program – from PR, to lead generation to Web traffic and social media programs. The approach is not unlike meeting a person in the real world for the first time.
If I met someone at a party and spent an hour “educating” them about how to build a successful PR firm, they’d walk away and never come back. Better that I ask them what they do and what interests them so I can make my comments relevant and interesting. But regardless, they want the short version, and then they want to engage in a conversation where we trade stories and ideas and learn about one another at the same time. Friendship always blossoms through the sharing of stories. And online, that requires content and a perspective.
How can this apply to your Web site or blog? Here’s what we recommend here at InkHouse:
- Make it interesting. Share enough about your background (the author) to spark interest. A boring bio about their work experience is not going to do it. If you don’t want to include a few personal facts, include some facts about the author’s point of view. This is your opener. It’s the invitation to come in and chat.
- Find your point of view. Your blog should not be a repository for posts on your new products and customer wins. That’s what your news page is for. Define your point of view on your industry – what makes your company different in ways that matter? What needs to happen five or 10 years down the road, or tomorrow for that matter?
- Don’t be possessive. Open up your blog to others. Do you have customers or partners who would be interested in contributing a guest post of something they are seeing in the market? More and varied perspectives can only enhance your blog.
- Be judged by the content you keep. Curate content from others that helps crystallize your point of view or provide another perspective. It shows that you are paying attention, are interested, and enjoy asking questions and seeking answers.
- Interact. Once you have a post, don’t leave it sitting there to find its own audience. Seek out conversations on that topic and join them. That’s what hashtags and @ messages on Twitter are for.
- Syndicate. Although some will find your blog on their own, don’t leave it up to Google. There are many ways to syndicate your content through other sites, blog directories, communities, social channels, and the list goes on. Get it out there and always link it back to your blog.
- Respond. If someone takes the time to post a thoughtful comment, respond and keep the conversation going. See my earlier post on how to deal with negative comments, which you will undoubtedly receive if you gain traction! Take it as a compliment.
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