In a recent post at Bazaarblog, Tara DeMarco reports on author Erik Qualman’s concept of the “social media escalator.” It’s his design for the graceful entry of businesses into the social realm. According to Qualman, no one would walk up to a group of people at a party and say, “Excuse me … Can we talk about why I’m great for the next five minutes?” But that’s what far too many businesses are doing at social sites, he argues: They jump in and immediately begin selling.
Instead, Qualman suggests, businesses need to take these four steps to enter social media the right way:
Step 1: Listen. See what people are saying about your brand, your products and your industry before jumping in.
Step 2: Interact. Join the conversation in a way that adds value. “You have to contribute to conversations people are already having to gain an audience,” DeMarco notes.
Step 3: React. “If 70 percent of people are saying they like something about your product, how quickly [are you] changing your product to deliver more of what they like?” DeMarco asks. Conversely, if people are talking about what they don’t like about your product or brand, how quickly are you working to fix it? This stage is where many companies drop the ball, she notes.
Step 4: Sell. Now is the perfect time to seamlessly add in a little self-promotion. “If you’re reacting to customer feedback to constantly improve your offering, selling will come naturally,” DeMarco says.
You, too, can master the social graces. Businesses can best enter social sites by listening, adding value to the conversation and responding to customer preferences. The final, selling stage then becomes a natural part of the process.