Social Media Gurus Advise “Listen First, Sell Second”

In Feature Articles by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

NEW YORK: istock_000008601988xsmall“When you search for something on Google, 95% of the time it returns the same results for everybody,” said Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, due from Wiley in the United States in August.

“Now, imagine what would happen if you searched for information among a network of individuals you trusted, like your friends on Facebook: You’d get much more personalized results, ones that you’d use.”

The gist of Qualman’s noontime session at BookExpo America was that Google may soon become secondary to online social media sites. Why bother with Google when your own personal network of friends, acquaintances and colleagues can deliver a better, more personalized — and thus more trustworthy — online experience.

This, said Qualman, is just the sort of thing a publisher could leverage to create authentic online “word of mouth” campaigns for books.

Asked what the one thing publishers can do to leverage social media, Qualman said, “Listen first and sell second”:


But publishers tend to have transparent brands, meaning readers remain largely unaware of the colophon.So, what was the best tip offered for a publisher to establish a brand identity on social media networking sites?

“People,” said Chris Brogan, who accompanied Qualman on the podium. His book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust is also being published in August by Wiley. “The way to give your company a face is to be sure your people are online and let them form their own networks around themselves.”

What then if like many of us you don’t personally know all the people in your network – your friends on Facebook, for example – and you’re uncertain of how much you can trust them?

“Google them,” said Brogan, “There’s so much information available online that it’s difficult to be inauthentic for long.”

Fact checking, it seems, is one area where Google’s unanimous search results comes in handy — unless, of course, your Facebook friends all happen to be Jeopardy! champions with photographic memories.

EMAIL: Erik Qualman directly

READ: Chris Brogan’s best advice about living online

EXPLORE:  Beyond Facebook. Here are another fifty social news sites for you to try.


About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.