Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What are some key ways to bolster your online brand’s influence in 2017?

1. Tell Original Stories

Businesses that conduct original research and investigate interesting topics in their niche will have a powerful advantage in 2017. That’s because everyone remembers a good story. So, to bolster your brand’s online influence, you should invest in in-depth storytelling to educate and surprise your audience with new information, backed by data, unique anecdotes and hard facts.

Firas KittanehAmerisleep


2. Post About Successes and Failures

 Post about your successes and your failures. People are just as apt to click on something to find out what not to do as they are on a success story. Another crucial key is to start sending the ladder back down. Are you actively trying to promote new voices? Show points of view that may differ from your own? That’s how to make it to the top.

Maren HoganRed Branch Media


3. Gather Data

 In a world where most of your influence and marketing are digital, you need to be gathering data to optimize. Figure out which messages resonate with which demographics, which platforms are best at which times of day, and what kinds of visual content have the biggest impact. Make better underlying decisions to have a better overall outcome.

Brennan WhiteCortex


4. Optimize for Search Engines

I expect SEO to continue to be an even stronger channel for many of the top brands in 2017. Nailing the basics will bolster brands online presence and, in turn, their influence. By publishing great content — eg; thought leadership, Q&As and data-centered pieces — customers will naturally gravitate towards your brand more and more. And, thankfully, Google will reward you for it.

Corey EulasFactorial Digital


5. Create Collaborative Content

 Partner with complimentary brands in a collaborative article to boost each other’s traffic and influence. Create a piece of content, whether it be a contest or an article that spotlights actionable tips for the readers. Each brand shares the content to their subscribers and followers. Everyone benefits by gaining exposure to each others followers, gaining traffic and broader influence.

Aggie BurnettAB Creative


6. Cater to Your Core

 First of all, you have to cater to your core customers. If you are developing an app geared toward millennials or teens who are often on Facebook and Instagram, then LinkedIn is probably not your best platform. You have to be knowledgeable about who and where your core audience is, and then you need to increase your ability to capture that audience by using the right social media outlets.

Fabio VivianiFabio Viviani Hospitality LLC,


7. Tap into Immersive Experiences

 With innovative technologies like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear and Pokemon GO, virtual reality and augmented reality should be on every brand’s radar for 2017. Clients all want in on the action of the next best thing, so positioning your company as an early adopter of AR or VR will help you stay relevant. Not to mention AR and VR are popular on social media, and make for great content marketing.

Robert De Los SantosSky High Party Rentals


8. Speak at Conferences

 Speaking at popular conferences is huge in two ways. You establish your brand and expertise with your peers and potential leads in the audience. And, perhaps even more importantly, video of your presentation will be uploaded to YouTube. This video will be publicized via the conference organizer’s social media channels, and, if you’re lucky, by attendees who were impressed by what you said.

Vik PatelFuture Hosting


9. Produce Videos

 Producing creative videos — whether it’s informative, for a product, or pure entertainment — will definitely capture the attention of more browsers than text, even those with big, colorful letters! Don’t overthink the video. Just focus on the objective, keep it simple and, most importantly, produce a quality production. Unless it’s breaking news, steer clear of phone video.

Duran InciOptimum7


10. Establish Yourself Through Podcasts

 Podcasts can be a great branding tool. Whether you have your own podcast or you appear as a guest on one, it’s a growing trend in building your brand’s digital influence. It’s a great way for entrepreneurs starting out to establish themselves as thought leaders and experts in their field.

Brian David CraneCaller Smart Inc.


11. Develop an Influencer Network

 When I started reaching out to influencers, I was shocked to discover how accessible and friendly they were. Reaching out to influencers and developing relationships has directly led me to guest blogging opportunities, critical introductions, and even to having my own Inc. column. None of those would have been possible without some old fashioned, strategic networking.

Peter KozodoyGEM Advertising


12. Budget for It

Set aside a budget to use on digital promotion. More and more sites are adhering to the “pay for play” model, so it’s important to not get left behind due to a lack of proper budgeting.

Leila LewisBe Inspired PR



13. Spotlight Customers

 Something I recently started for my business is taking the spotlight off of us and putting it instead on our customers. We really want to show potential clients what we can do, and we are doing this by illustrating what we have done. We turn the attention on one client each month in our “Customer Spotlight” series, and showcase how our business is benefiting the client for years to come.

Zev HermanSuperior Lighting


14. Write a Book

 The most powerful way to build your brand’s influence is to help educate and empower your potential customers. Many companies do this through thought leadership articles and speeches, but today, nothing has more power than a book. Even in the internet age, there is no other medium that displays authority, impacts and influences others, and spreads a message the way that a book does.

Zach ObrontBook in a Box