How to Win Friends and Influence People in the 21st Century - Take Two


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By Hector E. Cisneros

Photo Credit: betterparentinginstitute.com
The last 50 years have seen sweeping changes in our society. We have gone from people having a face-to-face relationship to a society that prefers social networking. We have cyberfriends we have never met in person. Younger people today would rather text you than actually speak to you n real-time..  Facebook is now running commercials showing that people would rather be on their Facebook phones, reading their news feed, than interacting with their families at the dinner table. The fact is, we live in a cyber-enabled world. So, if you want to build strong relationships and get ahead, you need to learn how to make friends and influence people in the 21st century.


How to Win Friends and Infkuence People in the...
How to Win Friends and Infkuence People in the Digital Age (Photo credit: ShashiBellamkonda)
A couple of years ago I wrote an article called “How to win Friends and Influence People in the 21st Century." In that article I emphasized the law of reciprocity. The law that states what goes around comes around.  That means if you help others, they will in turn help you back. I clearly stated in that article that this was my magic formula for growing my business, my reputation and for building trust amongst my customers. I also stated that I was providing others with testimonial letters, as well as referrals and recommendations long before the advent of social networks. Word of mouth marketing is built on your reputation. It depends on building trust and credibility. More importantly, it relies on the cultivation of trusted referral partners and loyal customers to sing your praises and to spread your message to others.

Electronic Word of Mouth


Word of Mouth
Word of Mouth (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)
Social networking is an electronic form of word of mouth marketing. It allows your referral partners and happy customers to sing your praises to a world audience, an audience that can spread that positive (or negative) message quickly and to a very large number of people, far beyond your customer base.
In my previous article I also mentioned that my social networks have built-in functions to pass along recommendations and testimonials. LinkedIn, Ecademy and FourSquare were the examples I gave. Since that writing LinkedIn has added an additional endorsement function where you can just click on a person’s skill to recommend them. However, I still prefer that you write a genuine testimonial letter and upload it.  This will carry more weight than just clicking on someone's skill set as an endorsement. 

More Equals More


As a general rule, the more work you do to help someone, the greater the value and weight your efforts carry, (i.e., the better the referral, testimonial or recommendation).  Don’t limit your recommendations to just one social network. Post your recommendations on as many networks as possible. I often post my recommendations on the top five social networks. This includes Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. But don’t stop there.  Posting to other networks like Merchant Circle, AngliesList, Google Local and YollowBook also helps. I also like making recommendations on blogs and websites, if it has the facility to allow you to rate them there.

YouTube, the King of Testimonials


YouTube video Brandweer Nederweert
YouTube video Brandweer Nederweert (Photo credit: mauritsonline)
A quick note about YouTube; many people don’t think of YouTube as a social network, however it has all the features of a true social network. You subscribe to it. You can follow other accounts, build a following, make and receive recommendations and leave comments on a person’s posts. More importantly you can create a video testimonial for the person you’re trying to help. In today’s world, nothing is better than a video testimonial from a happy customer. Commercials are full of actors faking their endorsement.  But a customer’s eyes rarely lie. Today, videos are the king of testimonials. More people would rather watch a short video that read anything. This is especially true of your testimonials. Unscripted, spoken from the heart words of praise are priceless marketing weapons without equal. Do everything in your power to help your customers provide this valuable service for you and your company. This can include providing incentive for the completion of a recommendation etc.… However, the law of reciprocity only works if the testimonial that is given is genuine. You must earn their recommendation by providing them with good service or a valued product.

Pictures, Videos are Worth a Whole lot More!


English: Think you already knew the old saying...
English: Think you already knew the old saying: "A picture is worth a thousand words?" Think again. Let's ask Andy and see what he says... What's your explanation? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many social networks allow you to upload pictures and or videos. Note that written testimonials, referrals and recommendations can be saved as PDF and JPG files, essentially turning them into pictures and downloadable documents. This is another way you can upload testimonials to social networks like Twitter, Google + and Facebook. Don’t forget to upload your video testimonial to these channels also. This includes other rating sites like Google Maps and Google local. As a matter of fact many “Local Directories” provide a place for you to upload pictures and videos. Use these to your advantage.  I would be willing to bet if you do, you will be one of the few that use this strategy and it will give you a big advantage.

What Smart Companies Do


Smart companies today are using social networks as a new kind of help desk and or customer service venue. They can watch for customer posted complaints, then connect with these disgruntled customers, and head off problems before they become big PR issues.

Get Your Tools Ready


Hootsuite's Ht.ly bar
Hootsuite's Ht.ly bar (Photo credit: ksablan)
Today there are also lots of tools that make it easier to post your recommendations and testimonials. These tools provide leverage so that you can post to multiple networks simultaneously. You can even schedule post asking people to read your testimonials’ and recommendations. There is no rule that says you can’t post this type of request more than once. Just don’t do it too often or you risk alienating your following. My favorite tool is Hootsuite and it is free at Hootsuite.com.

Take a Double  Check



Check Chk
Check Chk (Photo credit: Matt Carman)
Make sure that you don’t spoil your efforts by providing poorly written testimonials or recommendations. Your spelling and grammar must be perfect.  Double check the spelling of the company or the business name. Nothing can spoil a great testimonial, referral or review like spelling and grammar errors, (especially if you get the name wrong)! 

What to Avoid

So far I have told you a lot of things you should do, but I haven’t spent much time telling you what you need to avoid. Make sure you maintain a positive attitude. Being positive draws people to you. This is transferred into your writing and show up in your post. Avoid negative expressions and conversations. They do not help you in your quest to grow your business. Also avoid cursing, crass and salacious language. This kind of language never makes you look professional.  Don’t get into arguments with people on social networks. These networks are public and you don’t want to air squabbles and dirty laundry in public.
Avoid Area, Central London, 25 October 2009
Avoid Area, Central London, 25 October 2009 (Photo credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle)


Other things I would avoid is trying to use tricks or techniques like mirroring and matching or NLP.  These can be useful when face to face but they really lose something when translated into writing. Plus if a person figures you are trying to manipulate them your relationship is all but lost. It's important to be yourself. Especially your better self. Leave your ego at the door when trying to help others. 

The Experiment

I have spent the last 20 years of my business life following the Law of Reciprocity and it has served me well. I have received dozens of recommendations and have a clean online reputation. I work hard at keeping my reputation clean, not by tricks or by trying to burying bad news by launching a massive PR campaign that pushes that news off page one.  Instead what I concentrate on  is helping others first, then making things right if I make a mistake. I do this because I believe it’s the right thing to do. 


I will write a positive testimonial for your p...
I will write a positive testimonial for your product or service for $5 (Photo credit: birgerking)
If you don’t believe me, try this experiment. Pick a number of referral partners, (I chose 30 when I did this experiment) and write testimonials for them. Post them to the top five social networks, (or whichever ones you’re on) and then let them know that you provided this service for them. Ask them if they could reciprocate by doing the same for you. You will find that your reciprocity rate will be between 30 and 50% most of the time. If you do this experiment three or four times you will have helped a lot of people and in turn helped yourself by gathering a handsome number of recommendations to boot. Keep in mind that this will only work if you have built trust and credibility with others. If they don’t know, like and trust you, asking them for a recommendation is not going fly either.
 

The Last Word


Famous last words...
Famous last words... (Photo credit: deadmind)
A few last words to remember. Today, your reputation (individual and business) extends far beyond the boundaries of your business. Anyone can research your reputation and they believe what they read and view. Social media has become the great equalizer. It some cases, it has also become the spoiler. This is especially true if a competitor is trying to soil your reputation. The viral power of social networks allows a reputation to be passed around the world quickly (good or bad). It behoves you to make disgruntled customers satisfied. Making things right is the best way to turn a bad situation into a positive recommendation.

In this article I have covered the law of reciprocity and how it allows you to win friends and influence people in the 21st century. I have discussed how you can use this principle on a variety of social media including the top five social networks and others like Angieslist, Merchant Circle and Google Local. I have included suggestions on how to leverage your time and given insight to using YouTube as a social network and testimonial tool. If you have enjoyed this article pass it on to your friends. If you have other ideas, thoughts or comments on this subject share them with our readers in the comment section. 


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Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”



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1 comment:

  1. If you aren't serious about the internet then you aren't serious about being in business. You can't have one without the other nowadays.

    ReplyDelete