Matt Navarra is now Head of Content at The Next Web, previously Director of Social Media. He previously worked for the UK Government as a digital communications expert.
What does being influential online mean to you?
Being influential online is NOT about how many people follow you on Twitter or Facebook. It's all about engagement and being a thought leader. A true online influencers are those people others respect, trust and feel compelled to share or reply to, consistently.
When people hang on your every tweet or snap, and share them like crazy... you know you're doing something right, and only then can you legitimately be called an online influencer.
How do you use your influence to better your community?
Most of my work online is in relation to my work for The Next Web as their director of social media, and now as head of content. However, since attracting a decent sized, and more importantly, engaged audience online; I am lucky to be able to draw attention to non-work related concerns, projects, causes or news.
I often have people reach out to me online asking me to raise awareness of work they are doing that has may have serious implications for the community i live in or the people i care about. I will therefore look to share their posts or retweet their tweets to give them more visibility, in an effort to draw attention their cause by people that follow me and can help in someway.
Being Verified on Twitter and Facebook comes with mixed blessings. As much as it leads to me getting a lot more spam and trolls, it also enables my posts to travel further and be seen by more people. Brands and popular public figures (celebrities/politicians/CEOs etc) also seem to pay more attention to mentions by verified users. This is very useful when wanting to garner support for a cause i feel strongly about, or to obtain a response that may assist in achieving whatever it is i am trying to do that may help the communities around me.
How does generosity enhance your online relationships?
I like to think in my online world, i never give simply to receive something in return. However, i make it part of my daily social routine to try and respond to ALL messages or mentions of me on all the social networks i'm active on.
I also try to retweet or share posts by others on things i care about or amuse me. I also make sure to credit people when i see a post by them that i like and later share myself elsewhere. Good karma will always come back around.
I often get free gifts, tickets, and other cool gear simply for being an influencer. Somethings i keep for myself, but mostly i try to give them away somehow. Another way i can and do give back, is by my connections. My ability to make contact with highly influential or 'famous' people is a little easier than for most people. If someone wants me to connect or introduce them to someone (with good cause), i always will (where possible).
How do you integrate your real life experiences with your online identity?
I am quiet a private person when it comes to my family life. I only add people as friends on Facebook if i am actually friends with them offline in real life. I also rarely share photos or videos of my family beyond my 'friends + family' setting on Facebook. I like that separation.
I think sharing TOO MUCH information about your immediate family, where you live, your political or religious views, and other sensitive topics, can be a dangerous thing in the modern world (sadly).
What advice do you have for someone who wants to make Online Journalism or Social Media Journalism their career?
Don't expect to become rich! The life of an online journalist or social media professional is not a big money maker (for most people).
However, it is very rewarding and has many other perks such as the people you get to meet, the places you may visit to cover a story or an event, the flexibility such an online role gives you in terms of where and when you get work done. Amongst many other things.
In terms of practical advice, i would suggest get out there now and just do your thing. Don't wait for a job, you can start blogging, tweeting and engaging anytime, anywhere. Start to build up your own audience, and create an online personality for yourself.
Find something that really excites you to talk about, research and have an opinion on, then start to become a thought leader on it. Engage with other influencers who are publishing posts about the same sorts of things. Jump in on discussions with your own thoughts and views. And don't be afraid to ask for help or guidance on things you want to know more about but feel you currently lack an understanding of.
And finally... be REAL! Be yourself, but just the most extrovert version of yourself. People buy people, as they say. Don't try to create an alter-ego. It's too tough to maintain. your are cool just for being you. There is no one else like you online. Be opinionated, be engaging, be cool!
Who influences you in Online Journalism?
There are so many people that i make sure i never miss a post from.
People who i aspire to be like in terms of their online prowess and social media savviness.
To name just a few i would say: Mike Isaac (NYT), Mathew Ingram (Forbes) and Will Oremus (Slate),
I could easily name many many more.