Four Steps to Social Media Marketing Success

By Erik Qualman of Search Engine Watch , October 19, 2009

 Whether you’re a business or an individual, you must wrestle with many complex issues for social media. These can often be overwhelming. Where to even begin?

Rather than be paralyzed, it’s often best to understand that there are four simple, yet critical, steps to social media.

If you learn anything from this column, it’s that you need to take that first step. It’s also the most important one. The four steps are:

 1.Listen to your customer and conversations around your brand.

 2.Interact — join the conversation.

3.React — Adjust your product or service based on feedback.


 Companies often enter the social media fray and jump straight to step four, selling. This is the worst thing you can do, and it won’t be effective.

You need to start with step one, which is listening. Without listening, the other three steps won’t achieve any degree of success. As many have said before me (including Li Evans), there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth.

Notice in the diagram that the steps for the customer than happen in the reverse order of the company. This is huge. It’s these steps that the customer takes within social media that give an exponential return (good or bad).

If it makes it easier to grasp, you can consider these steps 5, 6, 7, 8. This is where the magic can really happen.

 •Listen: The customer buys the product service from the selling company. The customer’s first step is to listen for what to expect from the product or service (important expectation setting here). What is the value that will be delivered? This also may involve reading instructions or a manual.

•Interact: The customer will then interact with their new product or service.

 •React: During or after this interaction, the customer will react according to their experience (good/neutral/bad).

•Sell: The consumer’s reaction to the product or service will determine if they sell for or against (the company/product). Keep in mind if it’s a negative reaction you still have a chance to correct the situation by interacting and reacting.

That’s the beauty of social media. As a company, if you appropriately engage in the four steps, then the stairs in the diagram act more like an escalator (pun intended) rather than a traditional stairway. It will create a positively circular motion, which, with the appropriate greasing (effort), will continue to take your product or service to the top. And that is the true beauty of Socialnomics. Some of the best strategies in social media are often the simplest.

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