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Listening is the new Influencing

Author: Dick Raman, Social Champion

Isn't it a bit strange: "Who is the best social influencer?" It sounds like it is a competition. Even worse is: “Who can push his message best?"

When it was about ‘Listen,' 'Create' and 'Publish,’ I was quite comfortable to voice my opinion. But when it comes to 'Influence,' it sounds like we need to use devious methods to bring our point across.

I believe we should be straight and transparent in business and in social media. When we have an opinion that resonates with many people, it will catch on - we don't need devious tricks to accomplish this.

According to Wikipedia, social influence occurs when one's emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by others. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialisation, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales and marketing.

So we are back to 'pushing' instead of 'listening?' 'Broadcasting' instead of 'dialogue?' I don't buy that. To me, the truth will prevail and we don't need 20th century methods to accomplish this. People should be respected for their opinion - not because they are some sort of celebrity.

When businesses use social media, they usually don’t know what to do. They are used to measuring the effect of their marketing actions and resort to old techniques when it comes to social media.

Where they used to count clicks on a website to measure the effect of a campaign, they now want to measure likes and retweets to do the same. They want to know what their ‘Share of Voice’ was or, in other words, what percentage of the Twittersphere was talking about them. High marks on this would justify their next campaign.

Are they really satisfied with a bunch of retweets? Why are they not interested in what is said about their company, their brand and their staff? Why don’t they try to start a dialogue with their (potential) customers and show that they really care?

In the first round of #TheSocialInfluencer, it was about ‘listening.’ I believe we should go back to that and realise that listening is actually a very subtle form of influencing. We can best ‘influence’ our audience when we listen to what their needs are and when we manage to gain their trust.

Trust is the key to influencing: people believe what their peers say about a product or a cause, much more than what the manufacturer or the seller says. So don’t think of influencing in the old way, like Wikipedia describes it. Think of influencing as listening, starting a dialogue and gaining your audience’s trust.

Did you enjoy Dick’s blog? Vote for Dick Raman as your favourite Social Champion here!

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