I was honored to be on the list of the Top 100 PR professionals who dominate social media in 2013. I found this out via Twitter and I was very excited. Thank you for including me on the list, Robert Kim! 🙂

This got me thinking – what exactly is domination on social media? We hear a lot about influence via social media as well (if you haven’t done so already, make sure to check out Mark Schaefer’s book Return on Influence – a must have!) We have seen many discussions, posts, articles, and features discussing who are the influencers and how do we market to them. You also want to make sure to read Mark’s post on his reflections on influence related to social media – very enlightening.

However, how do you become an influencer? Can professors and graduate students become them as well? The answer is absolutely – but there are some things to note that you may want to be aware of.

  • Personality plays a huge role when it comes to influence: We found this out in a study I did with several of my colleagues back in 2011 for Public Relations Review on social media influencers and social media capital. Here’s the link to the Institute for PR Research on the study as well as a link to the article directly from PRR. There were certain personality characteristics we found based on the SMIs we surveyed – so look at what are some key attributes you have as an individual and think about best ways to displaying them via social media. For me, I always try to use :)s whenever I can – as well as the word fabulous whenever possible!
  • Determine your subject area of expertise: Figure out what you want to be known for. I decided a long time ago I wanted to be involved with social media and crisis communications, which is one specialization I focus on for my consulting and research purposes. However, be open to new opportunities and interests as well. For me, it has been wearable technologies like Google Glass and how this impacts PR, reputation management, and crisis communications. By doing this, you can build a community where people can come to you for insights, discussions, and content related to the area you focus on.
  • Be generous with content: You want to share information, tips, and resources with your community in the area. We are all on the same team here – whether it is syllabi for classes or lectures on particular topics – this helps us stay relevant and current with our own material. Having the opportunity to share this with others is great! While there are some concerns people may “steal” your content, they can never steal your brain. 🙂
  • Have a point of view: While some think it is about the number of followers you have in your community, how many RTs you get, etc – the key is to have a point of view that is unique, relevant, and can contribute to your respective communities. Have the confidence to share your insights and perspectives – especially if they have not been discussed or presented yet. Think about new approaches and ideas to incorporate in respective areas of your profession – you want to make sure these are memorable to your community so they can pass this along with their communities. This is what I have done for both research, teaching, and consulting purposes in my work in social media, and this has helped me get some professional opportunities like speaking engagements, guest lectures, and consulting projects.
  • Each person should manage and sustain their own brand: Don’t try to be like everyone else – showcase your individual characteristics and interests online. This is what makes people memorable is based on what differences they have that no one else has. Personally, I have discussed both my athletic background in research and practice – which is one characteristic that is unique. I joke with people I used to throw things for a living before getting into graduate school, which is true. 🙂 My time as a student-athlete at Florida and USC taught me many lessons and practices I still use today as a researcher and professor in social media. I also talk about my interests in travel, experiences in PR and educational experiences, and of course my love for coffee and Angry Birds. 🙂
  • Conduct yourself the same online and offline: This is key – you want to make sure how you conduct yourself online is the same as you conduct yourself offline. I have met some influencers who are completely different online as they are offline. However, there are some I think really do a great job at this – particularly Jason Falls and Mark Schaefer. Both are wonderful professionals who are encouraging, supportive, and really charismatic and passionate about new media and the evolution of technologies.

In summary, I am honored to be listed among some of these influencers in the PR area for social media purposes. I do think each person has the opportunity to be influential in their communities on topics they are passionate about and have a distinct voice and point of view. You want to be generous with the content you share with your community – we are all in the same boat and can learn from each other to help grow our profession as well as our own body of knowledge.  By taking this approach, we can make a difference.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,

Karen