How to Win Friends and Influence People: Online Edition

When Dale Carnegie wrote the iconic How to Win Friends and Influence People over 80 years ago, never in a million years could he have ever foreseen how applicable it would be to social marketing in the year 2017.

She told him!

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Making friends is a not-so-obvious task.

In 1936, the unofficial (depending on who you ask) people skills handbook was published. Since then, we’ve seen Walkmans come and go, we’ve witnessed the advent of door-to-door encyclopedia sales and their inevitable demise (shoutout Wikipedia), we’ve lived through the bellbottom jeans fad and its unavoidable return... If you showed our world today to someone 80 years ago, it would be virtually indiscernible. Not much remains from 1936, but How To Win Friends And Influence People is still here, and more relevant than ever.

At its core, the book reads like a guide meant to help readers navigate relationships as a two-way street. Even though there is no possible way Dale Carnegie knew what an @ mention or a hashtag was when he was writing his now iconic social manual, it should be considered essential reading for every single social media marketer.

While the book's original format possesses 4 major sections with roughly 30 key principles, we’ve cherry picked some of the most relevant and applicable points to today's landscape. The iconic volume is a testament to the unwavering nature of human behavior, proving that you don’t need to understand social media as much as you need to understand people's necessity to excel on the Internet.

Familiarizing yourself with the contents of How to Win Friends and Influence People will give you the tools to build a loyal legion of followers, as well as a squadron of online brand advocates, aka the couch-jumping equivalent of organic product endorsement. Aka the holy grail of social networking. Once you begin approaching your digital efforts like a person-to-person interaction instead of as a business-to-person interaction, as outlined by Carnegie, you’ll witness positive strides in your world wide web influence and friendships.

So here we go. Below are 7 principles from the manifesto that are just as relevant in today's connected world as they were when they were written in 1936, before the internet was even someone’s wildest dream.

I mean maybe I'm a little of both.

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How to not be this person online.

1. Give honest and sincere appreciation.

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Truer words have never been uttered.

Instagram exists as fuel for appreciation, where-double tapped screens are the primary currency exchanged. A notification at the bottom of a touchscreen with a speech bubble arouses a sense of excitement, as well as a sense of value and self-worth.

When interacting on social media, “there’s a physiological reaction. The dopamine release [that social media users get from interaction with others users] mimics a hit of cocaine. 

If you Google “online like”, the third pre-populated result in your search bar is “online like job”. Appreciation has become big business, but it's not a given: people can differentiate between sincere and disingenuous fondness. What separates successful businesses from the ones that fail is a lack of social media strategy revolving around dispensing real props.

Your online presence will be much better off if you take the time to get to know the individuals that interact with your brand. A little real love goes a long way, which is precisely why Instagress is bullshit. But that’s another topic for another day.

2. Focus on others.

Most people love the sound of their own voice, or in this case, love the look of their username in the comment section.

This principle is understood by a lot of successful social accounts, and also explains why you see many captions ending with a question. Instead of telling people what you think, ask them what they think. This tactic piggybacks off another of Carnegie’s major principles, which is to let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

Take the post below for example. [@nicekicks]( "target"_blank) is an account dedicated to sneaker junkies, like myself. I follow this account because they share content on a topic that I am deeply interested in. ✔️ Sneaker heads LOVE to debate the merit of one shoe vs. the other. ✔️ So instead of sharing their opinion on the Nike Spirdon vs. the Nike Air max 97’, @nicekicks encourages an eager subset of people to talk about their passion.

At the time of writing this article the post below had 809 comments. The five previous posts that didn’t ask a question only averaged at 84 comments. This is a textbook case of Carnegie’s principles in action. ✔️

👈LEFT or RIGHT👉 • Which is more iconic? #NiceKicks 📸@ninidokovic

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3. Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.

This one is pretty obvious.

Or is it?

Trolls and 4chen would argue this third point adamantly. And they wouldn’t be wrong. They have a pretty good case study to reference to help make their point. That said, as a brand, you create the content but you aren’t responsible for policing the comment section, aka the negativity-birthing chasm.

Positivity still reigns supreme, and for every negative comment, there are a million people who see the same thing, smile, and carry on with their day. Moral of the story: always take the high road by creating a positive environment, and do not criticize, condemn or complain, under any circumstances. Like for real though, trust us on this one.

how to win friends and influence people online social network marketing building social media presence social influence

4. A person's name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language to them.

So use it. And use it often. If someone is commenting on your post, ensure that you respond to them using their @ handle. When they get that notification and see that a brand they never would have expected a response from has in fact directly mentioned them, they will be over-the-moon, and probably loyal for life.

Direct response and conversation are extremely powerful when it comes to acquiring brand advocates. And it’s not difficult to do.

5. If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

Everyone makes mistakes — that’s what being human is. And since brands are run by humans, mistakes are bound to happen. What’s important is how you respond to blunders. Case in point, Pepsi’s protest ad featuring Kendall Jenner. The ad just straight up missed the mark. It happens. So instead of dilly-dallying around and waiting to get roasted online, Pepsi quickly issued a statement to emphatically cop to their wrongdoing. The whole thing pretty much blew over in a week's time.

Now let’s look at another recent blunder featuring United. United frigged up bad, forcibly removing a passenger from an overbooked flight. The Internet is not letting this one go. Nope. (* khaled voice *) Why? Simply put, the airline first blamed the passenger, making their eventual apology sound insincere and phony.

Like mom (and Dale Carnegie) always said, just say you're sorry if you’re wrong. Even Justin tried it.

6. Dramatize your ideas.

Isn’t dramatizing your ideas exactly what the Internet is about? Spoiler alert: it is. How do you get someone to click into an article you’ve written? By writing a headline that takes the guts of your story and adding a dramatic twist to it. People aren’t intrigued by run-of-the-mill and mundane, so gotta dress things up. Ya heard?



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See the difference👆? Duh, of course you do. Putting time and effort into your content by paying close attention to the principles of art direction and copywriting will improve it, along with your business.

7. Use emojis

We may have taken a liberty on this one, but we're seriously contemplating starting an online petition to ensure that any subsequent version of How To Win Friends And Influence People includes this key principle.🙂

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There are a ton of insights and lessons to be taken from How To Win Friends And Influence People. We highly recommend to give it a full read. Then head to the comment section and let us know how you’re absolutely on fire online. 🔥🖥

Want to learn more about winning the affections on people on the Internet and social media? Get in touch today (right after you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below 👇).

Jesse Ingalls

Size 9.5. Sometimes 9 💁