2020 Trend Update: I founded Z Group PR as a freelance consultancy after years working with communications teams and public relations agencies and have offered my advice in many media interviews and articles. Below are some of my favorite pieces of advice, along with articles that will help you get and stay on track with social media marketing and engagement. It is not just ROI that we are after, but a ROB – Return on Brand.


As you know, if you have been ‘round these parts before, I have spent a fair amount of time in my career as an advisor to SMBs. I have consulted for over 100 companies and have a broad range of experiences to draw from. Between my professional experience, academic success and years on the planet, I feel like I have a fairly reasonable set of expectations for professional behavior. Probably I lean toward high expectations, but nothing unreasonable and I always take circumstances or context into consideration.

Therefore, if you have failed to meet my expectations, then you were not trying that hard. And I won’t be shy about pointing that out.

Apparently, not everyone appreciates that.

But here’s the thing. You don’t work for your company. You don’t punch a time clock. You don’t have a job. No matter what you do, you work for yourself – even if someone else writes the check. Therefore it is up to you to maintain your personal brand. You are the boss of You, Inc. You are your best client. No matter who you report to, you represent yourself – even in a sea of employees.

So when you fail, it’s on you. If you fail to deliver the expected experience to your client, your boss, your teammates, and your peers – it’s on you. You are your brand and you need to know what you stand for. As your client, your boss, your teammate or your peer, I don’t care how awesome you were last week or how awesome you plan to be two weeks from now. If you provided poor service during our transaction, you lost brand value with me. Maybe you do respond to everyone else’s emails immediately – that is no consolation to me when it took 7 days, three messages, and a phone call to get a response on my question. Maybe you are super organized when your boss asks you to manage a small project, but if you make my project difficult, you have lost brand value with me. Maybe you are senior to me, make more money than I do, have a cooler job, drive a nicer car, or have better hair than I do. It doesn’t matter. If my experience with you is sub-par, then you have lost brand value with me.

It is exhausting to be good. That’s why so many brands fail. There is a tremendous amount of money spent on advertising, but nothing left for employee training. In those cases, that brand will fail. There are hours and hours poured into product development, but no clear sales plan. In those cases, the brand will fail. There is a huge emphasis placed on buzz or hype, but no real results to show, in that scenario, the brand will fail.

Just like a large organization, your ability to deliver consistent results, with on-time delivery and smooth processing will help you to build your brand. Like a large organization, all the advertising (or in your case, swagger) in the world won’t save your brand if you fail to deliver.

It is your reputation on the line and you tell that story every day by who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Do not tell me that you are an effective communicator when I can get any information from you. What you do and how you do it have already told me otherwise.

Glenn Llopis says that “your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.” The key here is consistent. If you were awesome last week and plan to be awesome again in two weeks, that doesn’t really help me this week does it?

Yes, everyone has their bad days, but how you recover when you fumble speaks volumes about your brand. If you sputter excuses, react sarcastically, or shame the person who dared to point out your inconsistencies, well then, perhaps your brand awareness needs a little work.

Can you create a personal brand? I would say no. But you can, over time, build a personal brand. You can tell the story of who you are every day by what you do, and how you do it.

Social Media Strategy

Don’t just jump in and splash around like a newbie, even if you are a newbie. But also, do not be afraid to make mistakes. Take the time to build a strategy. It does not need to be complicated, but you need to spend the time. You need to ask a lot of WHY questions and probably some HOW questions. Sit down and write out a plan – this is crucial. Those large blank pages are telling you something. If you cannot define it in words, it will not come to life in your business. Perhaps you should start with a PR plan and see where your social media fits within all of your communications. Decide if you are targeting media or customers – or both.

Outsource it or Learn it

You need to understand the platforms, know when to vary your content, and how to create a voice that is appropriate for each particular platform. LinkedIn varies greatly from SnapChat. A one-size-fits-all approach will limit engagement and results. I need to say this again because I still see lots of bad examples of social media via intern gone wrong. You need to do yourself or hire a professional. Yes, a marketing intern may do a great job, but vet them like an employee on other core competencies, do not just pick someone young. Hire a consultant and let someone who has the expertise and natural inclination do it. Just like you probably are not doing your own taxes, remember outsourcing can be a valuable time saver.

Use an Editorial or Topic Calendar

It’s never comfortable to sit, staring at a laptop, wondering what to post. Find topics that are relevant and plan when you are going to post. Using a dashboard like Hootsuite is helpful, but there should be some organic posts as well. For example, you can pre-plan many posts leading up to a national trade show, but you are going to want to real-time photos of employees, product demos and customers at the show. So the strategy needs to be well-planned, but flexible. Don’t hire your young niece because she is always on Facebook. A social media consumer, which anyone under 25 is, does not make a business communicator (see above.) I wrote about this recently in 5 Productivity Hacks for the Social Media Army of One.

Enjoy It!

Lastly, and so many people forget this: enjoy it! If you hate social media, then don’t force yourself to do it. We are in a relationship economy. Show a bit of personality and be authentic. If you are struggling to ‘get’ social media it will come through. If you do not love it then there are other ways to promote your business.


I think it is great to give people recognition of their efforts and abilities to lead teams and to influence industries, ideas, and followers. My best advice to becoming an influencer is to stop trying to be named as such. Most people who do develop the type of following that would garner the phrase are more interested in changing an industry, disrupting an idea or leading a cause. Once you know your goals and reason or why, focusing on that by delivering interesting, driving content, and speaking passionately about your topic on social media, at events, and in other digital content will increase your chance of being seen as an influence. Being that the nexus of next and chance creates influencers. And for that, there is rarely a road map. Most every influencer is striving to be something else — a leader, a coach, a champion, a change agent. The big work that you are doing is what drives the steps and choices that create influencers along the way.

Top Tips To Become An Influencer:

Avoid a Disaster

PR practitioners talk a lot about crisis communication and planning. I mean like daily conversations with peers, staff, and C-suite executives. It’s like the four daily food groups, but for communications professionals. It is in the toolkit. It’s part of the foundation. It is in every new business proposal and every agency review. Crisis Communication is what we do. It’s our Super Bowl and our World Cup. When there is a crisis, we know we have trained all day, every day, for the event. We live and breathe crisis communication. Yet, I am beginning to think that no one is listening, as I watch, day after day, as social media is blown up by the seemingly endless number of corporate blunders.

Learn Crisis Management in a Digital World:

In 2019 it’s becoming impossible to be a content machine and to feed the dreaded 24/7 Content Beast (whether it’s social posting or full blogging) but that’s what companies are finding out that they need. I think in the race to get followers, people tend to forget that a smaller, more consistent community, with lots of engagement, might be more beneficial. My number one tip for everyone is to get super organized, curate like crazy, and build a strong content strategy. To move the needle you are going to have to Organize Themes and Use Boosts! Use a media calendar to organize daily or weekly themes to concentrate on topics. Also, know that the differences between organic and paid reach will make a difference. Many posts will need to be boosted as increasing engagement is harder these days.


Recently, I was featured in a Forbes article called 10 LinkedIn Tips (You’ve Probably Never Heard Of) From 10 Different Experts where I shared my advice on using LinkedIn professionally. While we are inundated with social options, we need to remember to treat LinkedIn differently than Facebook! This may seem obvious, but it has to be said:



When it comes to Twitter, we have to remember that Twitter Marketing Isn’t Dead, You’re Just Doing it Wrong. So where do brands go from here with Twitter Marketing? Most companies use Twitter to share links and cram hashtags into Tweets, missing out on the true value of actual conversations, whether with the people using those relevant hashtags, following the brand or commenting on relevant topics. Companies go wrong when they act like corporate entities on Twitter and not as humans. Furthermore, organizations make the mistake of thinking all social media platforms are the same and then create content based on that misunderstanding. What works for Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn does not work for Twitter and it is not about the character count.

You can learn more by researching these 48 PR Pros You Should Follow On Twitter and reading my Best Social Media Tips for Businesses.


Posting photos is a simple matter in the digital era: In a couple of seconds, with a few swipes, clicks and taps, you can find and publish just about any image you’d like. But, experts say, that doesn’t mean you should pull the trigger on content that quickly. Just like any other marketing medium, social media requires planning, strategy, and someone with experience making the final decisions.” The common thinking is that young people use tech and they’re really good at it, so we’ll put them in charge. However, they don’t have the professional experience and years of wisdom that a more mature marketing person has. Remember that your overall strategy has to be filtered through a level of experience. Companies should be very wary of “skimming the internet” for photos of dubious origin, and instead, make the small investment into a legitimate photo service. And, of course, taking a few extra minutes to fact-check and proof before posting these photos would have helped both brands avoid public embarrassment.

Social Media Tips

Yitzi Weiner, Editor of Authority Magazine and CEO of Thought Leader Incubator, recently wrote an article for Thrive Global titled, 75 Prominent Influencers Share Their Top Advice on How to Become an Influencer, which I was thrilled to be included in.

While much of the advice was similar, there were standouts from many of the contributors that resonated with me. I was excited to learn about all of them, but for you, I thought a simple listing of the best advice and support would be helpful.

I loved being part of this discussion. I think it is great to give people recognition of their efforts and abilities to lead teams and to influence industries, ideas, and followers.

My best advice to becoming an influencer is to stop trying to be named as such. Most people who do develop the type of following that would garner the phrase are more interested in changing an industry, disrupting an idea, or leading a cause. Once you know your goals and reason or Why, focusing on that, by delivering interesting, driving content, and speaking passionately about your topic on social media, at events, and in other digital contexts, will increase your chance of being viewed as an influencer, being that the nexus of next and chance is what creates influencers. And for getting to that intersection, there is rarely a roadmap. Most every influencer is striving to be something else — a leader, a coach, a champion, a change agent. The big work that you are doing is what drives the steps and choices that create influence along the way.

The contributors are super smart. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we are mythical, but these experts offer proven ways to use your expertise on a topic to inform and likely influence others. With over 375 tips and suggestions submitted, it was hard to narrow down the best advice.

Below are the top 99 suggestions from Influencers on how to be an influencer:
  1. Always go with your gut. Conversely, when in doubt, don’t do it.
  2. Ask better questions more consistently.
  3. Be a friend; your followers want to feel like they are part of your life.
  4. Be a guest on podcasts, radio shows, TV shows, and YouTube shows or get quoted in news articles.
  5. Be a voracious reader.
  6. Be active during big events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl.
  7. Be as specific as possible.
  8. Be authentic and showcase some value in all your posts
  9. Be bold.
  10. Be Consistent. Honor a daily practice of influence no matter how small or big — from an Instagram post to a television appearance.
  11. Be Different.
  12. Be driven to leave a legacy.
  13. Be genuine and don’t worry how others perceive you.
  14. Be Human — the human side of business ALWAYS wins and ALWAYS makes a lasting impression
  15. Be passionate about what you are sharing
  16. Be patient. Building a truly loyal fan base takes time.
  17. Be persistent. Be personal and be interesting.
  18. Be prepared to be the boss and your own secretary simultaneously.
  19. Be resilient.
  20. Be smartly ubiquitous.
  21. Be yourself.
  22. Build a personal brand with trust. Lead with a strong first impression.
  23. Choose a subject about which you are passionate and well-informed.
  24. Choose your area of influence and stick with it.
  25. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!
  26. Comparison is your worst enemy.
  27. Connect, connect, connect.
  28. Consistency. Consistency is king. Consistency matters
  29. Credit your photographers.
  30. Curate offline relationships.
  31. Curiosity is important.
  32. Develop a global mindset around your topic.
  33. Disrupt: Influencers don’t get attention by agreeing with everyone else.
  34. Do More than One Thing — Take advantage of all avenues of content marketing, including blogging, vlogging, podcasting, and eBooks.
  35. Do Not Buy Followers!
  36. Do not compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own story.
  37. Do your very best to remain positive on social media.
  38. Don’t be afraid of the new.
  39. Don’t be afraid to show your face or get in front of the camera.
  40. Don’t Be Fake!
  41. Embrace the concept of micro-influence. Engage one-on-one with every single follower. Yes, every single follower. It takes a ton of work and eventually you cannot respond to everyone but, in the beginning, it helps to manage a community.
  42. Establish your own voice.
  43. Find a Squad. Look to platforms like Twitch that possess skyrocketing viewership with a relatively few influencers competing for those eyeballs.
  44. Focus on live and in person. Social media is great, but nothing replaces real-life presence.
  45. Focus on why you want to influence others.
  46. Focus on your niche. Think about a niche within a niche.
  47. Follow through with any campaigns that you agree to.
  48. Forget about being perfect. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  49. Get permanent attention. Nothing, I repeat, nothing is a safer long-term investment than building your audience through an email list. [As a PR expert, I love this one!]
  50. Get uncomfortable. Get out of your comfort zone! Learn to hear No a lot!
  51. Give something they won’t be able to find elsewhere.
  52. Give your time — If someone reaches out, comments, or asks a question — honor their time by giving them your time.
  53. Go where they are. No matter how badly people need something, there’s a limit to how hard they’ll work to get it.
  54. Have a unique and recognizable style.
  55. Have expertise and credibility.
  56. Have fun!
  57. Have high-quality content.
  58. Have other creators and influencers tag you in their tweets
  59. Help people without expecting a return. And be prepared to give a lot of valuable information for free.
  60. Hire an outside consultant or agency to build out a plan to create visibility for you and your topic. [As a PR expert, I love this one!]
  61. Honor the Ripple Effect. When you inspire one, ask them to share your inspiration with another. That will ripple into a large network of influence.
  62. Identify top blogs in your industry with an active community, make sure to leave lengthy comments under the posts sharing your own point of view.
  63. If it’s broke, fix it!
  64. Increase visibility. Brands are looking to increase exposure to an audience they don’t have access to.
  65. Inject your personality into your posts.
  66. Innovate or die.
  67. Intention — write it down or dream board the influence you want to create.
  68. It matters, to show people that they matter.
  69. It’s always about them. Give your followers what they want or need.
  70. It’s okay if you have a million things you love and want to share.
  71. Just Click Yes! You can’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter 25
  72. Keep it simple.
  73. Keep on learning so others can learn from you. Listen to others.
  74. Know what you want.
  75. Know your brand.
  76. Know your purpose.
  77. Know your strengths.
  78. Learn to manage your time.
  79. Make data-driven decisions.
  80. Make good friends and be a good friend!
  81. Network! Network! Network!
  82. One thing that always works is communicating on a personal level. Everyone likes to feel special.
  83. Passion — live and dream what you speak and show others. If you promote and inspire a healthy lifestyle, live it and love it yourself!
  84. Pay attention to who is influencing you. Learn from the people you admire.
  85. Pick one social channel and focus your efforts there.
  86. Pitch podcasts and video blogs that relate to your topic on bringing you in as an interview.
  87. Position your company blog as an industry resource.
  88. Proofread your work! The last thing readers want to see are grammar and spelling errors. Your work is a self-portrait, so paint it well.
  89. Reach out to an influencer marketing company to handle brand collaborations. [As a PR expert, I love this one!]
  90. Remember local audiences.
  91. Remember what the goal is: Get your story right.
  92. Set a budget for promotion. [As a PR expert, I love this one!]
  93. Show gratitude.
  94. Spend time engaging with influencers who think and believe differently than you.
  95. Start recording videos. Choose a platform that is comfortable for you and applies to your strengths.
  96. Stay in your lane. Stay up to date.
  97. Toot Your Own Horn — Take advantage of every opportunity to promote yourself and your business. [As a PR expert, I love this one!]
  98. Video or audio record yourself frequently. Influence requires us to make sure the best of us shows up every time. The only way we can develop our influence skills is when we can observe what everyone else around us experiences when they interact with us.
  99. Vulnerability. Walk it like you talk it. Watch your self-talk.

And my least favorite advice in any category, in any situation: Think outside the box. That doesn’t even mean anything anymore, so my last bit of advice: stop using catchphrase and techie lingo.