06/01/2016 01:20 EDT | Updated 06/02/2017 05:12 EDT

Meet Social Media Influencer Sean Gardner

When Sean Gardner tweets one of my articles, which he generously does often, I can expect my phone to start beeping non-stop with notifications, alerting me of retweets, likes, mentions and new followers. Thanks to his large following -- 910k followers on Twitter alone, Sean can provide vast exposure and draw substantial traffic to his content.

Sean is a social media producer for a credit union by day and a keynote speaker, author and social media influencer (Forbes 2013) around the clock. With high-calibre international speaking gigs under his belt, including the World Communication Forum-produced Davos Summit, Sean is a bona fide influencer.


Social media influencer Sean Gardner says the key to becoming an influencer is to treat everyone as an influencer. (Photo: Michelle Moore)

But what makes him a person of influence is not the number of his followers or speaking engagements but rather his interest in making a lasting impact and helping others succeed.

Here are the four key principles that Sean follows, which you can follow as well, to build influence on social media.

Treat everyone as an influencer

Why? Because as Sean puts it, "everyone has value." He has a story to back up his point. Earlier in his career, Sean was working for a non-profit organization when he launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for African countries affected by drought. To achieve as much impact as possible, he reached out to bloggers of all interest areas, regardless of the number of their followers. He ended up convincing more than 500 bloggers to post a fundraising story on a targeted day.

"We understood that some bloggers were clearly more influential than others (so we created projects that played to their strengths), but we made a strong appeal to every blogger based on their passion for the social good, and their resolve to act on that passion." The campaign ended up raising over $60,000.

Focus on impact, not influence

Aim to make a lasting impact, rather than build influence. The former begets the latter. Pick a cause you're passionate about and use your influence to make an difference by furthering that greater cause and bettering others. "What I am talking about here is spending influence (personal and/or institutional) to leverage technology for better human relations... It's not just about accumulating influence, but it's about using your influence for a greater purpose," writes Sean.

Put out amazing content

Sean is a prolific producer of relevant and compelling content on social media. On any given day, he writes 15 to 20 posts on Twitter alone. He also posts almost daily on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. His blog posts are focused on issues that mater to him, including technology, social media, philanthropy and #GivingTuesday, a global day for giving back, of which he is an ambassador.

Be consistent

Influence does not happen overnight. Sean has been consistently working on his online presence since 2009. He also has published a book entitled Social Media Success. While Sean is a Huffington Post blogger, that didn't come easy to him. Many years ago, he called the Huffington Post on a daily basis asking to become a blogger. He finally got the gig, but after writing a blog post about someone who was able to connect him with a contact at the Huffington Post.

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