It’s a word I hear a lot. I even use it myself sometimes:

Leverage.

I like the word.

Leverage

Sounds and smells fluid & rubbery. But it actually means to do the opposite. It takes power and muscle to leverage one thing towards the other.

I sometimes hear people say that they want to: “Leverage the power of social media”.

Is that possible?

Well, yes it is.

But certainly not with a Quid Pro Quo attitude. I recommend trying a warm and heartfelt “Are you being served?” instead.

Trust, Relationships, and happy clients: that’s the real stuff you can leverage in social media.

Last Monday I was writing about ‘Twitter eyeballs on valuable content’. The essence of the story was that if your content is valuable and if you make sure the right people can find it, you have a much better chance of converting them into readers, followers or buyers.

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Getting started in social media…

In an interview with PR Week, John Bell, from Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence, notes that more and more clients are asking for pilot programs rather than ‘full scale’ marketing campaigns.

So, is a pilot program a good thing? It’s a valid question. I’m often being asked this as well.

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Twitter 101 Guide offers insightful case studies

Twitter is one of today’s most successful social media channels. Having said that, many marketers and companies are skeptical of Twitter. They find it hard to understand how people use Twitter, how active people are and why people use it.

Some useful data on Twitter usage and stats can be found in this report [PDF] from Hubspot.

Still, however skeptical you might be, it is a fact that some companies have successfully used Twitter for their business. Recently the micro blogging platform itself launched Twitter 101, which is a special guide created to explain how companies can use Twitter for their business.

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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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Their skills versus your needs…

In my previous blog post I talked about the difference between Online publicity and Online PR. I argued it had to do with the difference between making noise and building relationships.

Of course both can help to drive business. The same goes for advertising. Some need it, some don’t. Some need a little, some need a lot. It really depends on your business objectives and the product or service you are selling.

Choosing an online agency to help you meet your business objectives can be quite a difficult task. First, there are simply so many agencies offering so many different disciplines all claiming to be online ‘experts’. Second, on the web the lines between marketing and PR have blurred.

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The difference between online publicity and online PR…

Once upon a time marketers had two main ways of getting their product or services noticed by consumers: advertising and publicity.

The principle of advertising is based on interruption. In order to get people’s attention you need a large degree of creativity or even humour. This helps people absorb your message and makes it stick.

The principle of publicity is based on getting placement in mass media. To compete in the battle for media inches, your story needs to have good news value.

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