Aap Noot MiesTwo years ago I would meet people everyday whose organisations did not have a presence in social media yet. But now, most companies I talk to are present in social media.

This is my non-scientific way of saying if your company is not in social media yet: you’re late.

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Listening to online conversation in social mediaA very simple (and free!) way to get social media buy-in from your organisation is to show them that conversations are already happening about your brand or product.

If you can show that, then your organisation then has two choices:

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Break it down into easy chunks…

Many marketers are hesitant to start investing in social media, because they struggle with the metrics. Before they start they would like to know what the potential ROI is of their Facebook group, Twitter chats, blog posts and activities in forums and discussion groups.

Activities in social media build relationships and trust. As such it is a long stretch to connect social media activities directly to a sale. And that is what ROI is.

That can be a problem. But it’s the same problem that traditional mass communications has: if you air a TV ad or publish a print ad, can you link directly to a specific sale in a retail outlet? Not really: you need to look at the sum of your activities and your overall results.

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The art of selling through informing…

Throughout my career as a product marketer I tended to view Public Relations as a promotion activity. And with promotion I mean free publicity in media. As such PR is usually seen as a welcome addition to advertising.

With the rise of the social web, a different aspect of PR becomes increasingly important. On the web, the most valuable thing PR can do is to help businesses build relations with prospects, customers and stakeholders.

Building relationships. Right.
Does that sell anything?
The answer to that question is: YES. Public relations sells.

Why?

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McKinsey change the purchase funnel!

Everyone knows the purchase funnel gets narrower towards the end, right? The entire marketing process has been aligned to this principle for more than forty years.

Well, now we can think again. McKinsey’s recent global study shows a definite change in the way consumers research and buy products. And that opens up ways of smarter marketing.

McKinsey have replaced the traditional purchase funnel with the ‘Customer decision journey’. At the beginning of this journey, the consumer begins with an ‘Initial consideration set’ of brands or products. So far, so much the same.

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New service offers hourly Twitter alerts…

Twitter. Some love it, some hate it. Some say it’s a great platform to share your interests, reach new customers, promote your blog or voice your opinion. Others don’t see the value of telling the world what they’re up to in 140 characters.

But whether you are participating or not, it’s a pretty good bet that valuable conversations are happening on Twitter: conversations about your product, your brand or your competitors.

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Or why brand building beats crisis communications…

Now here’s a company that learned about engaging in online communications the hard way. This is a classic case study that dates back to 2005/2006.

What started with a blog post of one person, caught fire on the Internet and ended up with ‘Dell Hell’ as the most highly ranked Google search term associated with Dell for some time.

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