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This is a guest post from John McTige, Executive Vice President and Co-Owner of Kuno Creative, an inbound marketing agency based in Cleveland, Ohio. The article appeared on his company’s blog first and also on Business2Community. This article is the third in a 3-part series.

People get the wrong idea about social media influence. We gravitate to thought leaders in our industry and hope to get a crumb of respect from them to elevate our own status and reach. I’m here to tell you right now that’s completely wrong. Influence is about building real two-way relationships that are mutually beneficial. I’ll give you a prime-time example that happened to me recently.

Barry Feldman is an influencer in his own right. He’s a great writer working as a copywriter and blogger. He gets it right when he calls himself a “good storyteller”. If you haven’t checked out his website and blog, you should. The skills that Barry wears on his sleeve are both rare and precious in these free-for-all days on the Web. Barry and I have been trading tweets and quips for a few months now, but never anything truly substantive, until last week.

barry feldman social media influence on kuno creative

Last week Barry read my blog post “Top Challenges in Modern Website Design – #3 Marketing“, and it apparently resonated with him. He responded with his own blog post “Do These Things Only If You Want to Be a Successful Online Marketer” in which he expounded on my post and reinforced it with his own spin. He added value by providing important tips like:

Make a great site. Don’t skimp on copywriting or design. Tell a great story. Make it easy to speed-read and enticing to spend time with.”

Aside from the fact that Barry dropped us some very nice compliments, what he really did was reinforce some important strategies for his own customers as well as for ours. The two blog posts together are more influential (and consequential) than the sum of the parts. Now we’re talking about the power of social networking and relationship marketing. Now Barry and I are collaborating and moving the industry forward. Cool.

My point here is that what happened last week was the realization of an extremely important goal. By putting yourself out there with a heart-felt blog post, you can attract like minds (as well as antagonists). By responding in kind and reinforcing (or arguing with) someone’s point of view, you are creating a valuable conversation that’s far more interesting than a simple one-off post. By working together, Barry and I now have reason to continue and build on that relationship. We have influenced each other, and now we can influence others – to do what? It doesn’t really matter. We have created a spark, and sparks have a tendency to become flames.

You can do this too.