Scanning my Facebook and Twitter feeds this morning, I’m reminded of the now-timeless advice Dale Carnegie offered in his 1936 classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He wrote: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” While the adage largely holds true in the 21st century, it doesn’t fully align with the reality of how we interrelate in a Digital Age. Winning friends and influencing others on the Internet no longer hinges on an either-or decision to be interested or to be interesting. It’s being relevant.

Think of the people you follow online. You likely chose to connect with them because they’re both interesting to and interested in you. Their relevance stems from an ability to engage others at a professional and personal level, to be both informative and entertaining. You come for what they have to say about the industry in which you work; you stay for who they are as individuals.As an example, I have in mind Todd Smith, a co-founder of ActivEngage who uses his Facebook page to share ideas that strengthen his customers’ Internet sales and marketing capabilities and his life. Whether Todd is discussing tactics dealers can use to sell more cars or posting photos that chronicle his role as a father or his interest in paddle boarding, he’s winning friends and influencing people. At this writing, Todd boasts 2,700 friends on Facebook and nearly 1,600 followers on Twitter.What are people like Todd doing right? They:

  • Humanize to personalize. Given a choice, we prefer to work with people we like. Yet the busyness of today’s fast-paced world often precludes us from communicating with colleagues outside of business hours. Industry partners who open a window into their daily lives show their company’s human side and cement personal ties.
  • Share interesting information. Consider what the editors at “The New York Times” have long understood: “All the news that’s fit to print.” If your idea of good content is letting folks know you’re stopping by the local coffeehouse for a cup of Joe or catching the latest “Twilight” flick, you’re probably neither winning friends nor influencing people. Facebook added “hide” and “unsubscribe” options for a reason.
  • Define the audience. Facebook offers powerful customization tools that allow you to control what is visible on your page. Just as you share some information with some people and not others, you can create lists for your friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
  • Return your interest. Social networks are designed to create dialogue, not monologues. When friends and colleagues weigh in on what you’ve got going on at home and the office, they deepen professional and personal connections.

Social media plays an increasingly important role in today’s public relations toolkit. If we can help implement a strategy that drives results for you and your organization, please let me know. If you’re just getting started with social media, in general, or Facebook, in particular, here are four benefits of company and personal Facebook Pages you should consider.

by Sara Callahan