Our Klout Stars series highlights top influencers and how they got to where they are today.
About Alister: I’m Alister Cameron and I call myself a Blogologist. I’m an Aussie who grew up on US air bases in West Germany (among other places). I’m on the wrong side of 40 and I’ve been into computers since 1984, when I was recording BASIC onto cassette tape on my trusty VIC-20. I’ve been working online since 1995, when I built my first website (it was awful!). I’ve built a stack more awful websites since then, and a few good ones too. After many years of consulting, I’ve just started as the Head of Digital for WorldVision Australia, which I’m really excited about. I’ve been a child sponsor since 1989 (hint: they need the money more than you do!).
1. How did you get started in social media?
In late 2006, I made a spontaneous decision to get serious about blogging, which I had been doing very casually since about 1998.
On the day in December that Time Magazine announced their 2006 Person of the Year (if you recall, it was “you”), I came up with the idea of creating an unofficial Person of the Year seal, which a whole bunch of other bloggers happily pasted into their blog sidebars and webpages. Not being a complete fool, I created a cool-looking graphic and ready-to-copy HTML code, which included a couple of links back to my own blog. Within a week Google found hundreds of blogs with the Person of the Year seal linking back to my blog. Google started ranking my blog for pretty much anything I blogged about, and I was immediately hooked on blogging as a way of doing effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Not long after that I registered a Twitter account and did nothing with it for a couple of years. Then at some point in 2008 I decided I needed to grow my Twitter account and have been consumed with Twitter ever since. I have well over 300,000 followers now, but who’s counting?!
2. What does influence mean to you? Who influences you the most online?
An old mentor of mine once made the very profound point that the more influential you want to be, the more narrowly you have to focus. I guess parenting is the ultimate supporting evidence of the wisdom of that statement. In my case, I’m a single parent of four kids, and I am completely sold on the idea that my best chance to change the world is to establish four young lives on a solid footing.
Strategically, I teach business to build their brand and buzz in a very broad and indiscriminate way, while at the same time laser-focusing on those few individuals or stakeholders who matter the most. Social media lets you do both incredibly well!
In my early days of blogging, when I felt like a total newbie, I was blessed to have a few leading bloggers who took the time to encourage me and help me make sense of things. Darren Rowse and Liz Strauss were both very kind to me, and years later, you can see what quality thought leaders and “stayers” they both are.
3. What advice do you have for someone who wants to take their online presence to the next level?
There is so much I might like to say but let me make just two obvious points.
Firstly, obsess more about your customer/reader/follower than your product/blog/content. One thing I wrote many years ago hit a nerve and I’m proud of it. It’s in reference to blogging, but it applies to everything online. I said at the time, “The real reason why nobody reads your blog is this: massively successful blogging is about establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. It’s all about who you know.” So take the time to be personal. Engage the little people. Be kind. Listen.
Secondly, I’d remind you of what the sociologists call “participational observation”. This is the idea that you can’t really properly (and deeply) understand something unless you, as it were, roll up your sleeves and get stuck into it… personally. So everywhere I go, and everyone I talk to, I ask the same questions. Are you actively on Facebook? Do you have a YouTube account and have you tried creating silly personal videos? The social web is passing many people by simply because they’re not getting close enough to it to ever understand it. And when authenticity means everything (and it does), looking and sounding like a faker is not good enough.
Connect with Alister on Twitter at @alicam