Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people could be described as the father of relationship marketing and the grandfather of social media. Two recent blog posts revisit the book and highlight its implications for the social media era.
J. Eddie Smith’s post offers a very handy précis of Carnegie’s book, and adds four updated axioms relevant to life online:
  1. People tend to underestimate how snarky they sound online. Always, always give people the benefit of the doubt. People are never as ill-intentioned as they sound.
  2. People on the receiving end always overestimate the snarkiness of online comments and take it way too personally. Avoid saying things that might be misinterpreted. This takes practice and a lot of learning the hard way.
  3. Jokes are often misinterpreted online. There are just some things that are amazingly funny when said in person, but write the same thing online, and people will think you are a total jerk. This is a very easy trap to fall into. Use extreme caution with jokes and sarcasm when the only medium is text. I think we underestimate how important voice tones and body language are when we tell jokes. These elements of communication are lost in many social network mediums.
  4. Quickly disarm the other person with a friendly response, even if they attack you personally online. Point out common ground, if any. Use language like “I can certainly understand why you see things that way” or “I apologize if I’m mistaken, but I think that…” In most cases, the attacker will immediately stop. They may even side with you. But even if they don’t, the most important thing is how you look to the thousands of other silent onlookers. In life, nobody likes to be around people who are angry (justified or not). Show restraint and patience. When in doubt, err on the side of being too friendly.

And Smith’s post pointed me towards Mitch Fanning’s post highlighting four examples of how to translate Carnegie’s principles into social media terms:

  1. Carnegie discovered from personal experience that “one can win the attention and time and cooperation of even the most sought after people by becoming genuinely interested in them.” How can you do this online today?  Start by listening to what people are saying and how the conversation flows. Next, take an interest in others by commenting on their work (i.e. blog posts, etc.).
  2. Carnegie wrote stories…excellent stories…Aren’t blog posts, tweets, and Facebook updates essentially a compilation of recent happenings, daily occurrences, and news that tell a story?  What story are you telling about your business and your life online?
  3. Responding to people by their name, using their handle when replying on Twitter, and commenting on blog posts once again reinforces Carnegie’s idea that if you genuinely take interest in someone, add value, and use their name they will take interest in you.
  4. One thing that’s often overlooked when discussing social media is the work that’s involved.  Building your brand using social media and digital marketing is a slow process and takes work (but it’s worth it!).  Dale Carnegie “hustled.”
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