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Is Facebook Still Likeable?

Marketing podcast with Dave Kerpen (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

The title to today’s post is a thought that’s making the rounds these days as Google announced that their new social network, Google Plus, added 10 million users in the first two weeks of limited beta launch.

A great deal of the conversation is decidedly skewed as much of the buzz is coming from hard core social media users and those predisposed to move away from Facebook, but none the less, this is a valid question.

I asked my Facebook followers if Google Plus had impacted their time on Facebook and over 50% claimed they were not yet Google Plus users. At the root of the question, however, is the issue of time. No matter what happens we only have so much budget for business building activities such as social networking and something is going to have to give. It’s like a family budget, if you buy a new car you might not go on vacation – it doesn’t mean the auto industry has targeted the travel industry, but they’ve impacted them anyway.

I think the same is true as people consider their available social time budget – something’s gotta give – it’s yet to be seen clearly what that something is, but it may not be as obvious as another social network such at Facebook.

For some perspective I turned to a guy that’s still very bullish on Facebook. Dave Kerpen, author of LikeableHow to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks) .

In this interview, Kerpen addresses the obvious success of Google Plus, but is quick to point out that Facebook’s place is still firmly rooted in the hundreds of millions of users that spend hours on the network every day. Kerpen’s take is that people don’t want to create yet another network on another social platform.

Kerpen also points to the killer targeting aspects of Facebook’s platform as reason enough to still engage and use the network. Kerpen emphatically states, “You know what’s cooler than 750 million people on Facebook? Being able to target the 750 that are your perfect prospects.” He goes on to tell a story about how he targeted a birthday wish ad that only his wife could see.

My take is that we have some interesting times ahead and we may very likely see a shift in audiences coming.

So, what’s your take?

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5 Ways That Content Marketing Has Changed The Art Of Selling Forever

I’ve often said the difference between sales and marketing is that marketing owns the message and sales owns the relationship.

Farm over hunt

Harvest by St0rmz

Some folks suggest that the onslaught of social media, content publishing and real-time search has rendered the need for a traditional sales department unnecessary and to that I still contend: sales still owns the relationship. While content and context are easier to put out there, online connection and community are still best supplied by a person.

So, the fundamental purpose of a professional salesperson has change little, but the function of an effective salesperson in today’s content-driven environment has changed dramatically.

The skills once required, and sadly still taught in most sales training programs, are no longer applicable and organizations and independent salespeople that get this are exploring, evolving and adopting an inbound selling mindset.

Below are five ways that content marketing has changed selling.

1) Listen over say

Salespeople have always been taught to probe, listen and offer solutions. Well, in today’s world they must listen intently before they ever pick up the phone, send an e-mail or draw up a solution.

Salespeople must monitor the social graph of a prospect in order to begin to mine for opportunities, frustrations and buying signals. They must also be adept at constructing ways to put the pieces of information together in a package that opens doors and starts relationship building.

2) Insight over information

A great deal of the salesperson’s role at one time was to deliver information. Most salespeople today face the possibility that a prospect may actually know as much or more about the product, service or solution being offered as the salesperson doing the offering.

Today’s salesperson must provide context and meaning, must aggregate and filter and must become a resource of insight for today’s information overloaded buyer.

3) Proof over promise

Price is a direct reflection of the buyer’s perceived value. This doesn’t always mean it’s a reflection of the true value or even rational reflection of value, but the ROI question will never go away unless, and until, an organization can show proof of value rather than promised value peppered throughout marketing materials.

Today’s salesperson must commit to working deeply with clients to help measure and communicate true value received as a completion of the sales process. With that piece in place, today’s salesperson can offer proof as part of the trust-building, lead-conversion process.

4) Publish over prospect

Marketing departments around the world are scrambling to feed the market’s expectation that they can instantly find content on any subject or need imaginable. Search engine usage has made consistent content production mandatory.

Few salespeople see writing content as a good use of their time, but it’s a skill that today’s successful salesperson has embraced. Not every organization will allow their salespeople to blog, but the ones that do have the opportunity to create a stream of content that is potentially informed with real-life customer stories and experiences. Smart salespeople have also begun to curate content as a way to become a resource for their clients as well.

5) Harvest over hunt

This last change probably runs counter to traditional selling as any of the others outlined above because it sounds so passive. Salespeople have been taught to hit the street, knock on doors and close deals.

The problem is the street is closed, the doors are made of bits and no one answers the phone anymore.

Working the soil, planting seeds and watering the harvest with care is the new metaphor for turning “know,” “like” and “trust” into “try,” “buy,” “repeat” and “refer.”

This post originally appeared on American Express OPENForum