How To Become a “Forbes Power Influencer”

Wednesday, I received an unexpected early birthday present in the form of a tweet from my friend Vala Afshar,* congratulating me on hitting #16 on Forbes 50 Top Social Media Power Influencers. There are some amazing leaders on this list, many of whom I’ve befriended over the years, as well as a number I admire from afar. It’s a well-researched article.

But me, a “Power Influencer” in the realm of Social? I honestly had no idea. It’s taken me a few days to figure out how I got there.

I know that I like to tweet, and it’s been pointed out to me that I might do it a bit more often than average.**  I’m gratified by the large Twitter following I’ve amassed over the last 3-ish years since I first logged on – that’s some nice validation, and I won’t insult you by pretending I think otherwise.

But here’s the thing: I’ve never called myself a social media “guru,” or even “expert.” I use social a lot, but I only write about it occasionally, and when I do, it isn’t typically to introduce a new site you should check out or to predict the demise of Facebook. I don’t endorse products for money, and I’ve never been paid a cent to advise companies on their social strategy.

Leadership + Culture + Service = Profits. That’s my thing. Not social media.

So how did I get on this list? Much more importantly, how do you? I think I have a few insights into both of those questions. Here are my initial thoughts:

  1. By far my most popular (and controversial) post on any topic is my Twitter follow-back policy. This one post at least helped me get on the Forbes list, without doubt.
  2. I’m pretty outspoken about why you should join me in opting out of Klout. As with #1, I’d call this less social-media-focused, more karma-focused. But I’m probably splitting hairs.
  3. The third post I’ve written that has proven helpful to others is actually a link to an article in the Harvard Business Review, asking leaders if they have a personal social media policy yet (and if not, why the hell not?). Again, more leadership-focused than social-focused, but clearly the two converge.

That’s all great, you’re probably thinking, but how do I get on that Forbes list next time they publish it? Here’s my advice, based on my own experience:

Ignore the metrics, tricks, and shiny new things, and just be social! Use social media, that’s all, just use it! Occasionally, when something is important to you, tweet or post about it. It may surprise you and grow legs. If so, great! If not, don’t sweat it.

I have to think of this as a lot like dating. You can’t go out night after night looking for the love of your life and expect to find it! You just meet people, and date, and at some point voila: there you go, you realize you’re in a relationship and you don’t want it to end. So too with social. Don’t try to be an expert, because it will only lead to frustration. Be social. The love will come.

And with the love, maybe the list. But by that time, you won’t even remember that you wanted to be on a top-anything list anyway. You’ll be too busy having fun to care.

As always, this advice is merely my humble (but deadly-accurate) opinion.


*Vala is Chief Customer Officer at Enterasys. You’ll be hearing more about Vala, and the role of CCO, in the future.

**Nota Bene: I turn off my phone at all meals and meetings. I hope you do the same. Don’t be  a Hun.

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

  • gregnazvanov

    Ted, good post, yet I disagree on the following back rule. I get some strange people to follow me who then add me o Justin Bieber lists, or try to offer free porn and viagra. Why would I ever want to follow back?

  • BruceSallan1

    However it happened Ted, it is way cool.

  • Well said Ted,

    Socialising online is great fun, but I do find the constant tweeting of whatever just to keep an active twitter profile and the post-a-day picture of whatever just to keep an active Facebook profile (or to get a Klout score up) quite disheartening. Almost worse than the folk who believe social platforms are free classified ad networks.

    I love reading others thoughts on how they manage their virtual networking and finding people like yourselves who come across very genuinely online – maybe Forbes see that too.

  • Hi Ted,

    Thanks for saying what I’ve thinking. I share what I think is important, curate everything that I share and try to always be positive. Do not take a cent from anyone, I am free to speak as an expert (academic-type) and as a practioner (seasoned manager-type)….but I have so much to learn from you. Congrats!

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