Back in 1936, when Dale Carnegie published his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, he could never have anticipated it would become one of the first bestselling self-help books, selling a huge 15 million (and counting…) copies worldwide.
Dale's classic book on interpersonal communication provides concrete advice on how to handle people—how to encourage them to like you, to win them over to your way of thinking, and how to become an inspiring leader. This classic book is just as relevant to online communication and persuasive social media engagement.
With social media platforms becoming the dominant online channels, demand for community managers is rapidly growing.
It is essential that organizations adopt communication practices that can help them ‘win friends and influence people’, rather than deploy tactics that ‘lose friends and infuriate people’.
To simplify Dale Carnegie’s advice on handling people,
31 of his principles have been listed and merged into just 10 groups.
If Dale were alive today, we’re sure his advice to community managers would look something like this:
1. Be a good listener - Whether you’re aiming to influence one person, a market segment, or an entire group, feedback is your key to success. You’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of their interests, motivations, and needs. This insight will allow you to formulate a stronger position, articulate a better response and satisfy the needs and interests of your stakeholders.
2. Genuinely talk in terms of the other person’s interests - Focus on issues that their target audiences already find interesting. In order to be more engaging, you’ll have to find ways to link your products, services, or social causes to the issues that already motivate your target audiences.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want - When you are introducing a new idea or proposal, you’ll have to find a way to make people feel happy to do what you suggest. If you want to make a lasting impression, you can't just tell someone to do something, rather, you must get them to want to do what you are suggesting.
4. Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely - We all need to feel respected, and often the mere perception that we are being disrespected, even if we are not, can cause a long-lasting resentment. One way to achieve this is by demonstrating honest and sincere appreciation. It must be sincere: Fake complements can cause more harm than good, as many people will instantly spot manipulative flattery.
5. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires - In social media you may, and probably will, often disagree with what other people have said. When responding, you must be sympathetic to the other person’s ideas and desires. One way to achieve this is to try and honestly see things from their point of view. By placing yourself in their shoes and showing sensitivity to their views, people will be more likely to reciprocate, by seeing things from your point of view too.
6. Begin in a friendly way - Whenever you need to ask someone to do something, or to deliver bad news, or you need to respond to negative comments, always start out in a friendly and respectful way. The trick here is to include sincere praise and honest appreciation before expressing your message.
7. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly - If you are dealing with an individual who has posted a comment that clearly contains a mistake, they will be more likely to accept your response if you address their mistake in a diplomatic and indirect way. The last thing you want to do is embarrass someone in public and risk driving them to defend their honour by attacking yours.
8. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it - In social media, it’s ok to publicly express disagreements and different views, but arguments should be avoided. It means that if you want to get the better of an argument, don’t argue! Be creative and find another way to respond.
9. If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically - Though few people or organizations easily admit their faults, criticisms of your person or organization may come from legitimate frustrations. 10. Smile - Believe it or not, the way you look online will impact how people relate to your social media profiles and online properties. Your smile affects how people perceive you in person. Similarly, a friendly and professional looking social media profile can inspire a greater sense of goodwill and trust towards your profile. In social media, you need to present a credible photograph with a profile that demonstrates your expertise and trustworthiness, but that also presents a friendly approachable person, as demonstrated by your smile.
These 10 principles will help you win friends and influence people in social media or whatever technology you use to connect with others.