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6 Things the Most Influential People on Social Media Do

How do you earn respect, stand out, and get noticed in noisy social-media circles? Take a cue from the Web's biggest influencers.
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Influencers are among the most magical, powerful creatures in social media.

Within specific niches or across large audiences, they have the power to shape how people think about an issue, start important conversations, make businesses stand up and take notice, and more.

Outside of having a large following, how do they do it? And how did these influencers amass the following they have in the first place?

The ability to stand out in noisy social circles helps influencers build their audience and connect with them over and over again. It keeps them relevant. It keeps them influential.

Here are the six things influencers do to stand out:

1. They're Superconnected and Almost Always On

Brand advocates, superfans, loyalists--influencers of all stripes--are hyperconnected to their audience. They have a passion for their topic of choice, which means they're always on and use multiple devices to ensure they're connected throughout the day.

Influencers use tools such as Topsy, Trackur, and Social Mention to find interesting conversations, stay on top of breaking news in their niche, and help them manage and schedule content for maximum exposure.

Influencers treat social like their j-o-b. (and sometimes it is). They get it; you have to invest time and money in yourself to help you scale if you are going to stay superconnected and become an influencer.

2. They Make Boring, Dry, or Otherwise Uninteresting Topics Fascinating

When everyone is saying the same thing, who grabs your attention? Influencers are the people coming up with a creative take on a topic, saying something different or contrary or funnier, etc.

Take Gretchen Rubin, for example. Rubin is a popular author, blogger, and speaker, but then a lot of people write and speak. How is she also one of LinkedIn's 150 Most Influential People?

For one, while everyone else was writing self-help books, Rubin decided to parody them with her first book, Power Money Fame Sex: A User's Guide.

See, while everyone else was trying to tell people how to be happy, Rubin decided to take a quirky, self-deprecating, and humorous approach.

When she tweets to her 92,000-plus followers, they listen and share because she's not spouting the same old conventional wisdom. Her take is unique and makes something that could be tedious--finding happiness--an adventure in which her social connections can all participate.

3. They Create a Ton of Awesome Content

The killer content top influencers are banging out on a regular basis really helps them stand out in a sea of noise, regardless of the topic.

Influencers are great at creating content that people can't help sharing.

They might do this by way of original research, powerful commentary, sharing a unique take on the news, turning information into stunning visuals, hosting webinars or online chats, or blogging prolifically.

Whichever medium they're using, influencers love to create awesome content, and they have mastered techniques that allow them to scale their efforts. This might mean partnering with others to increase their reach and maximize their time, or building a great team around them to assist in their efforts.

There are a lot of people out there with something interesting or brilliant to say. The ones who garner influence, though, are incredibly skilled in how they get their message across to the greatest audience possible.

4. They Know Who You Are and Want You Want

Influencers don't operate in a vacuum, churning out social updates and content like traditional broadcasters. They know their audience and what you like--in fact, they often know what you'll like before you do.

Knowing your audience goes far beyond demographics, and influencers totally get it. They listen, engage, and converse so they can truly understand what drives people. They're thirsty for audience insights that will help them create that next amazing piece of content, or fuel their next groundbreaking research project.

They don't get bogged down in popular opinion or go with the crowd, because they know you're looking for something different. They know this because you're telling them in a thousand different ways, and they're actually paying attention.

It might be through social-media activity and sentiment tracking. It could be through website analytics. It may very well be gleaned through actual conversations with the real people who hang on their every word.

The difference is, they actually care about what would be most useful, helpful, or entertaining for you and go from there.

They're more concerned with what you want to hear than what they want to say.

5. They're Hip, They're Happening, They're Current

And they can't help being all of these things, because they are so in tune with the topic on which they're influential.

They read voraciously. They eat data and facts for breakfast. Influencers eat, sleep, and breathe their passion and are always at the forefront of the industry.

When everyone else is talking about what happened this morning, they're already talking about what's going to happen tomorrow. And they know what's going to happen tomorrow, because they know just about everything there is to know about what's already happened, who is working on what, which technologies or developments are on the horizon, and more.

6. They're Trustworthy

And this is huge, massive, critical! They don't waste words, publish fluff pieces, tell half-truths, or otherwise lead their audience astray.

People elevate others to the level of influencer because they trust them. It's as simple as that.

It can take years to build that trust and one poorly thought out statement to break it, so influencers are incredibly careful about what they're putting out to their networks.

They stand out in a sea of noise because time and again, they've proven their voice is worth listening to and their advice worth taking.

 

Last updated: Apr 16, 2014

LARRY KIM | Columnist

Larry Kim is the founder and CTO of WordStream, provider of the 20-Minute PPC Work Week and the free AdWords Grader. You can subscribe here to Larry’s business growth tips by email.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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