What the $200 Million Tweet Can Teach You About Personal Influence

Is this the new face of power and influence?

By Contributing {grow} Columnist Stanford Smith

I’ve been thinking about what makes a person influential. Can it come from a single tweet?

The other day, I saw an infographic that plotted the hockey stick growth of Draw Something. The addictive Pictionary-like app was released on Feb 6th 2012 and was slowly growing without much fanfare.

Then something incredible happened…

On March 1st, Jersey Shore cast members Vinny Guadagnino and DJ Pauly D tweeted about the addictive gaming app. Immediately app downloads took off. By March 5, Draw Something was the #1 downloaded app on iTunes.

On March 23rd, Zynga, the Farmville creator, bought Draw Something for $200 million dollars.

From this perspective, Vinny and DJ Pauly’s tweet was worth a cool $200 million. It may have not taken off at all without that tweet.

Yep – they are influential.

But wait…

Before you hang your head and say “I’ll never have that type of influence” take a moment to consider this… You actually are THAT influential. Think about it. You are surrounded by friends and family members that will buy, trash, share, and recommend products based on what you say. The only difference between you and DJ Pauly D is scale. Specifically, Jersey Shore cast members have a hit TV show to use as a platform.

Right now, you have your blog, Facebook timeline, Pinterest Board, or daily tweets.

Your challenge is to build the quality of your influence while you build scale.

Influence is Not What You Think

If you ask the social media intelligentsia about how to create influence they’ll point to tools and tips. The tools help monitor influence. Tips offer guidance on “how” to cultivate influence.

Mark Schaefer’s book “Return on Influence” is a invaluable because it clearly explains “What” influence actually is – and offers some damn good advice on how to build it.  However, I often see bloggers focus on responding to every comment and dutifully referencing every Twitter @mention. They believe that these tasks are critical for building their influence.

Not so…

I believe influence is built when you are demonstrate relevance. In fact, influence and relevance go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other.  For example, Howard Stern may be popular but he couldn’t influence me to tie my shoes. Howard Stern isn’t personally relevant to me and only marginally influential (if at all).

Relevance is built when a business or person focuses relentlessly on being indispensable to their audience. They eat, sleep, and dream about solving their audience’s problems. Their passion for relevance attracts followers, creates fans, and breeds fanatics. Soon their relevance translates into Relevant Influence. Their audience turns into an instant financial windfall. Everything the influencer touches turns to gold.

Answering comments and being accessible via Twitter is good. Being relevant is better.

Four Ways to Build Quality Influence with Relevance

Of course the reading Return on Influence will give you a great head start on building relevant Influence. In the meantime, start with these tips –

1) Solve Common Problem in Unique Ways
Problem solvers are always relevant and influential. Search for problems that need unique solutions and you will quickly become the “go-to” person in your niche. Use your blog and social platforms to promote your unique approach.

2) Start Teaching
The most powerful influencers are teachers. The Content Marketing revolution builds on the premise that educated consumers buy more, refer more, and stay loyal longer. How can you use your Facebook page, Pinterest boards, and blog posts to teach your customers about your unique value?

3) Make Real World Connections
Over a year ago, Mark Schaefer called me on the phone. It shocked me. I remember waiting for him to try and pitch me on a product or service. He didn’t. He just wanted to meet me and see if he could offer any help. Wow.  Work to build real-world connections with your audience and watch your influence grow exponentially faster.

4) Be a Filter
Your audience, customers, and prospects are drowning in information. They are struggling to decipher the signal from all the noise. Help them. Use your deep understanding of their challenges, problems, and aspirations to deliver the right information at the right time. Your audience will reward you with new sales, leads, and referrals.

Relevant Influence focuses on being useful instead of being busy. Relevant influencers build devoted audiences that take action.

How are you staying relevant as you build your influence?

Contributing Columnist Stanford Smith obsesses about how to get passionate people’s blogs noticed and promoted at Pushing Social, except when he’s chasing large mouth bass!


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  • Great post. “Problem solvers are always relevant and influential” -so true. People often forget how simple it is. When working on social for my organization, I focus on thought leadership and solving problems. The way I see it, If someone solves my problem, I like them. If someone teaches me something new, I like them. Finding problems and searching for questions is one of the greatest way to develop content. I’ve found that not only does my organization become more influential, but it also gets some very real traffic, as popular questions are searched for often.

    Mark – as always great blog, guest bloggers, tweets, book, all.


  • Great post and great points, Stanford. the only issue I would take is with the amount of influence you are giving to the guys from Jersey Shore. I think Draw Something was poised for that kind of exponential growth without them. Consider that the Zynga deal was in the works before that tweet, and the growth was already starting. I was on Draw Something prior to that event, mainly because friends told me about it. I then got about ten others on board. So for me, one person = ten new users. That adds up fast, especially when those new users do the same thing (if not more). The $200-million tweet makes a great story, but I think it’s more of a good story than anything else. 

    Otherwise, your points are right on.

  • Love the “Be a Filter” suggestion.  Serving your followers by sifting through the noise for what is truly important is a great way to be influential.  I do that as a wellness writer, and will be even more intentional in my social media outreach.  Thanks for the great post!

  • You make a good point.  Draw Something was slowly gathering some great followers.  However, those followers weren’t as influential as you.  From the growth chart’s I’ve seen, Draw Something wasn’t picking up enough influential followers.  The $200 million tweet happened and they immediately picked up “sneezers” from the Jersey Shore audience.  

    I don’t know how influential the spike in active users was to Zynga – but it couldn’t have hurted.  

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Right on Eliz.  Being a true curator of great information is one of the most overlooked ways of creating influence.  

  • Yep, I couldn’t agree more! I filter stuff all the time for my audience, I make real connections.  Teaching is the next part I want to get into. People love to learn, and it is a great way to meet and influence people.

    Great post, thanks!

  • Stanford, 

    Nice post with some good points on what influence really is and how we can be more influential online.

    I came across this article after doing a search for more on Mark’s book. I was tipped on the book through a Wired article talking about Klout. 


    It really makes me sick to hear companies and brands are treating their customers differently because of there Klout score. The goal is to get more mentions and to spread word of mouth by bribing people to speak positively about their business. 

    Mark and Stanford, do you see this trend lasting?

  • You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.  Klout announced mobile app today. Now it gets really interesting.

  • Pingback: What the $200 Million Tweet Can Teach You About Personal Influence | fabriziofaraco()

  • Great post Stanford. Well thought out- well presented! I’m w/ you – I would walk across the street to avoid Howard Stern and probably do the opposite of anything he advocates just to be safe. I think your pts @ Educate & filter are 2 prongs of the same fork but I really like the distinction!

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