Our Klout Stars series highlights top influencers and how they got to where they are today.
About: Tom H. C. Anderson is managing partner of research consultancy and text analytics firm Anderson Analytics (OdinText). A pioneer in text mining, he is an award winning blogger and frequent speaker at voice of customer industry events. Tom manages one of the largest discussion groups on LinkedIn related to ‘Next Gen’ market research and has almost 50,000 followers on Twitter.
1.How did you get started in social media?
While I’ve always believed in the power of networking, my original reason for blogging and tweeting was solely to better understand online sentiment from the perspective of the very consumers our clients were asking us to analyze. I really had no idea of the opportunities it would eventually lead to. It turns out that when you study what other brands and online influencers do it’s hard not to get kind of good at it yourself.
2. What does influence mean to you? Who influences you the most online?
I think influence means different things to different people. Initially bloggers were credited with an undue level of influence. As the social web has matured I think everyone is contributing and shaping products, services and brands via their networks.
However certain people are definitely more influential in specific areas than others. When I first started using Twitter for Instance, Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki was a huge inspiration in how I started using Twitter. I was also impressed by how approachable he was, and I reached out to him on several occasions for advice.
These days I’m influenced by hundreds of colleagues within my network on a daily basis as they share their own thoughts and experiences as well as relevant articles, many from sources I would not have been likely to come across myself.
3. What advice do you have for someone who wants to take their online presence to the next level?
Interestingly my advice to someone starting out is really the same whether they are an individual or larger brand. Pick one or two examples you admire and look at what they are doing. When you first start out you’re not going to have a large following, just a small group of people who already know you. If you over think it and worry too much about the content initially chances are you’ll never get much out there. Choose one or two channels that are easiest for you whether it’s a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and start there. Don’t overthink it initially and allow yourself to make some mistakes, you’ll find the social web is rather forgiving if intentions are pure.
As you get more comfortable sharing a lot more ideas and opportunities will arise. This is when you may want to fine tune your strategy. Online strategy by the way is something that necessarily should evolve over time as your options and experience change.
I find online influence, even if it’s a personal brand is a lot like formal marketing. It’s about quality content (honesty), frequency and reach. That’s one of the great things about what Klout is doing, it takes into account the fact that YouTube, LinkedIn, facebook etc. are really concentric circles of influence. Those that understand this can relatively easily increase both their reach and frequency and eventually their overall influence.
But you should never forget that listening is at least as important as talking when it comes to online influence.
Connect with Tom on Twitter at @TomHCAnderson