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How to Win Friends & Influence Social Media, Part 2

We’re going to do a short series on Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  If you don’t have the book, the link has a way to buy it and/or download it straight to your Kindle.  If you need another version, Google is your friend.

The introduction to this book study can be found at How to Win Friends & Influence Social Media.

Part 1 of the book is the first 3 chapters.  They contain “fundamental techniques” in handling people.   If this book were written in 2012 with an attitude problem, these chapters would be “if you screw these up, you deserve to fail.”   The basic principles of social media are similar.  If you screw these up, you’re in the wrong industry.

1) If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.

Principle 1 – Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

What does Carnegie mean?  After a few stories he explains it simply:

Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.

People resent criticism.  They don’t applaud you being right, they resent being told they are in the wrong.  If you want the honey, you want the bees working with and for you and the hive in an upright and locked position.  Criticism is best left for others.  Yes, you will need to vent at someone again in your life, criticise someone’s choices or complain about how someone handled their business.  Just know that it isn’t winning you any friends.  Your friends will be those you see past their flaws.  Your own friends see past yours.

Criticism is what happens when you decide to be someone else’s arbiter.  You can criticize and grow a following – see Simon Cowell or Siskel & Ebert.   Their followers are not the ones they criticize, however.  Fans often love Cowell’s brash, abrasive criticism.  How do you think both Chris Sligh AND Ryan Secrest felt as the butt of his jokes?  How to win friends?  Not exactly.

2) The Big Secret of Dealing with People

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.

This is the first time in the book Carnegie mentions a frequent topic: “Dr. Dewey said that the deepest urge in human nature is “the desire to be important.”

In a nutshell, that’s what people want.  We talked about it a little in the introduction post.  People become interested in you when you are genuinely interested in them.  Have you posted on a forum before?  The first time nobody cared what you said.  The second, third, fourth … you’re barely making waves.  If you went and commented on a bunch of their posts over a week or two, then posted your first original post – how would that go?  You’d be in a conversation with far more people.

Carnegie writes a story about a husband and wife which illustrates this principle.   The wife asks for “6 things” the husband would like to change about her.  He instead sends her 6 roses with a note that says there is nothing to change.  Would this not change the entire direction of many marriages?  If you could look beyond a flaw like “he eats too much” or “she forgot to pack drinks in the cooler” and note the appreciation you have for what someone has done positively?  When was the last time you gave a positive compliment on anything other than looks or someone’s home?  Try that for today’s homework.  Tell someone how they’ve positively impacted you.  This is not about fake, unbelievable flattery.  Social media, and friendship, is about making an honest connection with someone you like and admire and want to be liked and admired by.

3) He Who Can Do This Has the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks Away Lonely.

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.

This is easily summed up.  I don’t want what you want.  You don’t want what your mother wants or wanted.  Your kids don’t want what you want.  It’s human nature to care about your own needs.  It is more persuasive and interesting for the people you want to engage with to learn what they want and give it to them. Influence social media by going fishing:

“When I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or a grasshopper in front of the fish and said: “Wouldn’t you like to have that?”

You should fish for people (and friends) the same way.  What do your potential friends want?  How do you make sure they get that?  Many of my casual Facebook friends play Zynga games.  I don’t – but I’ve noticed a camaraderie among those who do.  What are they doing?  Ultimately just helping each other succeed.  Yes, it’s a “stupid little game” but helping others get what they want is a prime way to make friends.  I often give out “free klout points” on a few chats I network in.  Here, have a +K in philosophy.  Take one in secularism.  Great.  They appreciate the gesture and it gets them closer to their goals.

Carnegie says simply

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

I asked in our last book study why we’re studying a 75 year old book.  This sort of wisdom does not age.  Think about car commercials.  They show a happy driver whirring around the roads with nobody in their way and wind in their hair.  This is what you want when you want a car, yes?  Commercials aimed at parents show a sudden stop or a near accident but-for their all-new brakes that you must buy.  Wipers help you see the deer on the road better.  They aren’t talking about how it benefits them for you to buy their cars.

Burger King heard the message from McDonald’s customers back in 1973 when they started their famous “”Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don’t upset us. All we ask is that you let us serve it your way!” which has been simplified in later  years to “your way, right away.”  Burger King’s focus enabled them to grab the #2 spot behind McDonalds because the focus is on what the customer gets, not what the business wants.


So remember the 3 principles to influence social media: 

  • Principle 1 Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Principle 2 Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Principle 3 Arouse in the other person an eager want.

And we’re on our way to winning true friends on the social media network of our choice.

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The Mindset, Skillset, Dataset Approach to Social Media

Posted by Matt Antonino on Friday, January 30, 2015

About Matt Antonino

Matt is a marketing consultant in Melbourne, Australia. He teaches businesses to market smarter and faster through multichannel marketing including SEO & Content Marketing, SEM, Email & Social Media.

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