Paul L. Wilson

How You Can Be As Influential As Warren Buffett (Well, at least on Twitter)

This last month I spent time compiling a list of the top 100 Insurance Influencers on Twitter. Congrats to my former co-workers: Bill Sullivan (#4), Nigel Walsh (#5), and Dipak Sahoo (#64) for making the list.

One surprising insight from my research was the possibility to build influence on Twitter that rivals Warren Buffett, but with a fraction of the followers. It isn’t easy, but it is possible.

Minh Q. Tran was the number one influencer on my list, and everything he tweets is retweeted, on average, 65.77% of the time. The average for the list was 17.07%, so that’s an impressive stat.

Why real influence isn’t measured in followers

I believe firmly our focus shouldn’t be about building a huge following, but an influential following. Having 100 people who retweet your tweets and engage with you is more important than 1,000,000 people who don’t care what you say.

Yes, the million+ followers are more impressive, but if you’re wanting results versus bragging rights your focus should be on finding a true believer in your brand.

A true brand believer is someone who actively engages with you and what you say. The best way to find individuals who are like this is by connecting with people in the real world. I know ALL my most active supporters online personally.

This takes time, but as you meet people keep this in mind. Find out what social networks they are active on and connect with them. Add your social networks to your email signature and your business card.

However, these are not advanced tips. In fact, all these suggestions should be common sense, but often slip our mind (I just added my social networks to my work email signature last month).

What you need to know to influence like Warren Buffett

The advanced tip I want to share is around Twitter Private Lists. My first job out of college was with a loyalty and rewards marketing firm. My first lesson at this firm was that it is easier to market to people who were already customers than to find new ones.

In fact, all the data from that job showed me that an existing customer actually spent more money on a loyalty and rewards program. If the customer had just continued with their normal spending habits and avoided the rewards program they actually would have saved money.

Understanding this concept, I have created four private lists on my Twitter account (read how to setup Twitter lists). These lists are accounts who:

  • Retweeted Me
  • Liked Me
  • Listed Me
  • Mentioned Me

Each time someone does any of these actions I add them to one of these lists. You see, without even asking, these accounts have endorsed me in some way. These people/brands may not like everything I tweet, but I now know a specific interest they have.

Twitter can be quite overwhelming if you try to drink straight from the main stream of tweets. In fact, most people are turned off from Twitter because there is so much coming at them.

However, by creating Twitter lists you can calm the noise and really pay attention to what people are tweeting. I focus most of my attention on those four lists, particularly my Retweet list.

By creating these lists I have discovered several things:

  1. Lots of bots, or automated accounts, like to retweet everyone. Once I discover these accounts I instantly remove them from my list (or never add them in the first place).
  2. When I retweet or engage from these lists I find that the followers of the account I’m engaging with, at times, will engage back (which, of course, I then add them to one of my lists).
  3. I’ve discovered that many of the accounts on these four list were found when I tweeted about Big Data. Accounts on this topic seemed to be more active on twitter than my other interests. So, lately I’ve tried to tweet more about Big Data. Each time I do, I find more people to add to my lists.
  4. Finally, and the whole point of this advance tip, the more I focus on existing engagers the more these accounts engage back and become true followers.

So, if you want to have the influence of Warren Buffett on Twitter, you need to be more like Minh Q. Tran. Focus on engagement. Focus on accounts that engage back, engage those followers often, and see your influence increase.

Again, Minh’s influence didn’t happen overnight. However, if you look at Minh’s account you can see tweet after tweet follows the above mentioned recipe. So, pattern yourself accordingly, and if you can’t have Warren’s wealth at least try to have his influence :).

*Warren Buffett image labeled for general reuse on Flickr