Editor's Note: Today's post comes courtesy of Nikki Serapio, the Manager of Marketing Community at Oracle. His job is to raise the voices and share the stories of grassroots marketers, community managers, and social media managers, including those who use Oracle products and technologies. Follow Nikki on Twitter @nikkiserapio.
The case for using marketing automation technology is clear.
Scoring leads and prospects accurately. Delivering personalized emails. Gathering real-time stats that tell you what your most valuable customers are doing online. These are important tasks that marketers no longer have to do manually.
But what about our efforts on social networks? Currently, a lot of social marketing isn’t automated at all.
In a way, that’s completely fine. Think about the countless brands out there (maybe you work for one of them) that respond to thousands of customer service requests and complaints on Twitter and Facebook every day. This job is notoriously tough. In these situations, there’s no substitute for putting your best people in charge. There’s no magical algorithm-fueled robot right now that can replace the value of a skilled customer service specialist or community manager.
That said, let me venture a friendly prediction. Human beings and their knack for graceful conversation aside, the future of social marketing will be automated. And conversely, the future of marketing automation will be decidedly social.
An example from my colleague Roland Smart shows one possible future:
(From Roland’s recent presentation at Eloqua Experience. You’ll find all of the presentation slides here.)
Today, having this kind of customer conversation on Twitter requires you to understand many layers of context. You figure things out as you go, and you do your best to make an educated guess about each customer’s needs and problems:
The promise of social marketing automation rests on the extent to which it can 1) remove guesswork and 2) use behavioral data and a powerful probabilistic model in order to automate meaningful communication with customers. We don’t need our computers to act human — we don’t need them to pass the Turing Test — in order do these things well.
Here’s what this new kind of automation might look like in practice:
Admittedly, the automation story above is part hopeful prognostication and part call-to-action. Einstein said, “I never think of the future — it comes soon enough.” At the same time, I’d add: You better be prepared.
As an immediate next step, take a close look at your marketing systems as they operate today. Are you building a sustainable foundation for the future of social automation? Namely, are you tracking key customer activity — including social activity — in one organized place? If not, what’s holding you back?