Principles of Influence in a Social World


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“People don’t change behavior or positions based on what they know. They change based on what they feel.” – Oprah Winfrey.


This is an extremely powerful and clarifying statement from one of the most successful and influential ‘social’ leaders of our time.  What makes Oprah Winfrey so influential, anyway?  In my view, she is successful because she has a pulse on the issues and concerns of millions of people within her core audience.  She is a master at channeling and telling stories based on both her own experiences and those of everyday people.  She comes across as accessible. She is a masterful communicator and understands the importance of authenticity. 

Regardless of your view on Oprah’s politics or opinions…it is hard to deny the great and transformative power of her influence.

There are many things that Oprah’s statement and viewpoint inspire in me – particularly in a business sense.  If you agree with the premise that we live and work in a world that is increasingly becoming ‘all things social’ then you will also understand that new rules (in business) are being written for companies to compete and be successful in this environment.

Use of social media tools can certainly help a company amplify its message and promote thought leadership, products and services.  It is also a powerful medium that can help transform cultures, motivate and inspire people, and create global movements when used/mixed with principles of social thinking and social influence. 

In today’s environment, it is increasingly impossible for companies to separate their products and services from their brand promise AND the experience of their key stakeholders.  As an example, if you have crappy products, the amplification of social media (as an experience driven medium) will make this well known very quickly.  The same holds true if you have great products.

Using social media and principles of ‘social thinking’ companies are better able to understand in a direct and meaningful way how customers, employees and other stakeholders feel about issues that affect their brand as well as the behaviors and desires of their audiences to help adjust/create/transform its offerings to deliver greater value and create transformative experiences.

Over the coming days/weeks I will offer some ideas that might help shift the perspective and mindset of business leaders about social media and its use (as a ‘strategy’ and ‘process’) in core business functions such as: corporate strategy; sales and partner development; marketing and communications; services and support; and research and development.

Below are a few directional thoughts as a precursor to future posts:

  • Corporate strategy: Use of social media tools to capture insights and facts on customer/consumer experiences that support business leaders in making sound strategic business decisions.
  • Marketing and communications: Social influence strategies to reach stakeholders in a mass or specialized way to help shape a brand experience and create shared ownership and identity of ‘the brand’ with key audiences.
  • Sales: How to sell ‘without selling.’ The use of social media to channel thought leadership (as a new marketing and sales currency) to educate people on the virtues that surround the value of your products and service (non invasive and non threatening). 
  • Service and support: Use of social media tools to monitor, understand, engage and address customer issues (good and bad).

I welcome your thoughts and ideas as well!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Don Bulmer
Royal Dutch Shell
Don Bulmer is Vice President of Communication Strategy at Royal Dutch Shell.


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