How to Grow Your Social Media Influence

Top 100 Social Media Power influencer and #Twitter go-to guy, John Sparks, shares how you can master Twitter

Attitude and persistence.

If you need to sum it up, these are the two most critical things you need to have to transition from having a presence to becoming truly influential. So says John Sparks, an adjunct professor teaching online journalism in the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, best-selling author, and Twitter coach and trainer.

Why should you pay attention?

I think it’s worth taking a look at some of John’s ideas about growing your presence and becoming influential. He didn’t start out that way though it took him two years to move from 800 followers to almost 200,000.

The secret? Relationships!

“It’s been a grassroots team effort. My current followers are the best. They have been the voice of @IAmJohnSparks both online and offline,” John explained.

Platforms – pick one or go the whole hog?

I was curious to find out whether John believes that you should be active on all the social platforms or just a few. His words make sense.

“Be careful not to grow too fast. Spreading yourself thin is never a good thing. My suggestion – just start on a few. Master those and then move as your brand evolves,” he shared.

Creating custom content geared to a specific platform while keeping your audience on that platform in mind will lead to much higher engagement.

Here’s more great advice from John.

Do you believe in cross posting – the act of replicating a post across all your social accounts? What are your reasons?

John Sparks

John Sparks

John : Actually I’m a believer in diversification. Diversification is key to success in any social media strategy. Different social accounts were designed with a different purpose in mind. Creating custom content geared to a specific platform while keeping your audience on that platform in mind will lead to much higher engagement.

You spoke about doing research and coming up with a plan for how to grow your list of followers in order to become a social media influencer. You’ve even said that you’ve grown your presence to the point that “almost anyone I want to follow me, will”. Can you share your two most compelling ideas on how you mastered Twitter?

John : Follow 150-200 new accounts every day. Give people a certain time to followback. If they don’t, flush them.

If it’s someone you want to follow you, send them a tweet. Thank them for the followback and ask them a question and engage them in a conversation. If they won’t respond, look at who they are following.

Is it a cardinal rule that once a person follows you, you need to follow them back?

Try the same strategy with the people they are following who don’t have verified accounts (accounts with a blue check mark). If they are not following many people, start from the very bottom of the list of people they are following. These are the people they thought of first when they opened up their account. It’s called strategically stalking in a good way.

Is it a cardinal rule that once a person follows you, you need to follow them back?

John : Not sure if it’s a cardinal rule but the golden rule says : in everything, do unto others what you would have them do unto you. I spend a lot of time pondering those who have millions and millions of followers but only follow less than 300 people. I wonder if they followed 600 people instead of 300 if they would also double or even triple the millions of followers they already have.

It’s a fact: people like to feel welcome, special and appreciated. One easy way to make others feel welcome, special and appreciated is to follow them. It starts a chain reaction. Next thing you know they tell their friends about you. And before you know it people begin to flock to you and flock to you in droves!

Do you typically use the Twitter platform to find fresh content or do you use other channels (what are they?)?

John : Great question! Using trends to identify what people are talking about on Twitter and then using to design my own unique handcrafted visual content has been the most successful strategy for me. is also a great content aggregator. Sometimes Klout has served as a great starting point when putting together ideas.

For someone new to developing a social media strategy, what do you suggest as the must haves to start with?

John : The most important thing is knowledge of who your audience is. Knowing what their likes and dislikes are. After identifying this, it’s asking yourself with every new piece of content, “What’s In It For My Audience?” If you can’t answer this question, don’t push it out. Find something else that will add value.

What are your thoughts on content aggregation vs. content creation – to build influence, which should you focus more on ?

John : Both are important. Again, diversification is key.

You see, it’s a fact: people reach out to people who reach out.

You have skills and experience that perhaps others don’t – your background in journalism, business, education and teaching expertise and the fact that your dad was also in media. This has surely had a huge impact on your level of success. What do you suggest those without this sort of background do to make up for these things they lack?

John : If anyone tells you you’re lacking because you don’t have a certain background, first tell them it’s a bunch of nonsense. Next, don’t associate yourself with them anymore. Look, it’s not about someone’s background that makes them successful at what they’re currently doing. It’s all in their relationships and how they treat others. And if it’s not about relationships, it darn well should be.

You see, it’s a fact: people reach out to people who reach out. And when we do whatever it takes to help other people in life, most are pretty willing to help us. That’s where success comes.

Part of developing the ability to influence is developing and strengthening your voice. However, you mentioned that the “I” needs to be removed when tweeting – it’s all about other people and what they need – it’s not about you or the products you’re trying to sell. How do you manage this balance between serving others while developing a voice?

John : By being genuinely concerned about others, and what others want and need, we end up strengthening our own voice. Any moment the focus shifts, to strengthening our own voice first, is the moment we begin to fail.

So, there you have it, folks. What tips do you have for growing your presence and becoming influential? I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments section or on Twitter !

365 Ideas

2015-05-26 Denton, TX John Spark, author, 365 Ideas University of North Texas. Frank & Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. Photo: Junebug Clark

John Sparks (@IAmJohnSparks) is author of “365 Ideas to Go From Good to Great on TWITTER!” (CreateSpace, 2015). He has earned the distinction as the “Go-To Guy for Twitter”.

His book was released on paperback and the Kindle version became a #1 best-seller in the category Social Media Guides, on the first weekend it was released in July 2015. John is the founder and Chief Executive of Online Image Works (@OIWmedia) and a Dallas native. His extensive media background includes being a veteran newscast producer.

 Image of John courtesy Junebug Clark.

Author: Rowena Morais

​The HR Gazette’s media partner, Vertical Distinct, provides the resources you need to develop your professional abilities and career to the fullest in either HR or Technology including articles and podcasts, white papers, and the latest surveys and reports.

Rowena Morais is the Editor of An entrepreneur and blogger, she has a passion for HR and Technology. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter. ]

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