By: Sylvie In this world of “Socialnomics,” businesses have no choice but to participate in social media. Conversations happen with or without brands in the digital world; if they participate, companies have a much better chance of shaping the nature of those discussions. In order to succeed in social media, companies have to follow a few of the critical steps laid out by Author Erik Qualman. In what he calls the social media escalator, Qualman explains that companies must follow certain steps to create a cycle of engagement with the customer. First and foremost, a company must listen to the conversations customers are having about its brand. Armed with context, the company can then join the conversation and interact. And as a result of being a part of the dialogue, the company can use feedback from the customer to react and adjust the product or service. The last step is the sell. If the company has followed the previous steps, this should come with just a little nudging instead of a full sales assault. On the reverse side of this “escalator” are the customer's actions. After the company makes the sale, the customer's first step is to listen and gauge what to expect from his or her purchase, probably by reading an instruction manual. The customer then interacts with or uses the product or service. Next, the customer will react based on whether it was a good, bad or neutral experience. And lastly, the customer will then sell, either for or against the company. While Qualman's steps seem simple enough, we have to keep in mind that these conversations on social media aren't one-to-one. They are broadcast to many, so one cycle of this escalator could potentially result in many customers becoming salespeople for the company. Or on the flip side, they could become the most vocal opponents to your company if they had negative experiences. This is the power of social media. Word of mouth is powerful, but with social media, companies get “world of mouth” results.
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