Our advisor Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, likens social media to a party. If you go to a party and see a group of people talking, he explains, you wouldn’t walk up and say, “Excuse me, you look like you’re having a pleasant conversation. Can we talk about why I’m great for the next five minutes?”

For some reason, however, we often forget these basic social skills in the digital world.

In our most recent webinar, Erik shared examples of brands effectively using social media to promote their business and sell their products. Too many businesses jump into social media and immediately begin selling – pushing messages about their products and brand into an already ongoing conversation. Through what he calls the “social media escalator,” Erik explained the steps businesses should follow to become a welcome member of conversations in social media – listen first, sell last.

Click to enlarge: Qualman’s “Social Media Escalator” urges businesses to listen first, sell last.

Listen. Erik tells businesses to first be quiet and listen on social media. What’s being said about your brand, your products, your industry? See what people are saying before jumping in.

Interact. Join the conversation in a way that adds value. You can’t just start talking about how awesome you are and expect people to engage – you have to contribute to conversations people are already having to gain an audience. Respond to what people are saying about your brand.

React. This is where many companies drop the ball, Erik says. If 70% of people are saying they like something about your product, how quickly are you changing your product to deliver more of what they like? Insights without action are worthless.

The same goes for negative feedback. If people are talking about what they don’t like about your products or brand, how quickly are you working to fix it? For all the companies jumping into social media, most don’t have a plan for acting on what they learn – their social efforts are siloed to a specific department. “Social” isn’t a department – your whole company must be listening and reacting to these conversations to drive any real value.

Sell. If you’re reacting to customer feedback to constantly improve your offering, selling will come naturally.

As you sell, your customers will follow this same model:

  • Listen. Customers hear what your product has to offer them, both by listening to what you’re selling, and also by listening to each other, on social media and in offline conversations.
  • Interact. They’ll then interact with your products, using them themselves.
  • React. They’ll react to your product, developing their own opinion of what’s working and what isn’t, what they like and what they don’t.
  • Sell. Based on their reaction, they’ll sell for or against you via word of mouth.

If you’ve done your job right – listened to customers, interacted with them, and reacted to their feedback to consistently deliver better experiences – customers will do the selling for you, by sharing their love of your products and brand with their networks, both online and off. And this is where you listen, hear what they think of your business, and the cycle begins again.

Erik shared many examples of brands following these steps well, along with numerous other tips from his best-selling book Socialnomics, in our webinar.

2 Responses to “The “social media escalator”: Erik Qualman says listen, interact, react, sell”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. You can’t just jump and start selling yourself and your brand. You have to be welcome first.

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