Saturday Sep 29, 2012

Sneak Peak: Social Developer Program at JavaOne

By guest blogger Roland Smart

OpenWorldWe're just days away from what is gunning to be the most exciting installment of OpenWorld to date, so how about an exciting sneak peak at the very first Social Developer Program?

If your first thought is, "What's a social developer?" you're not alone. It’s an emerging term and one we think will gain prominence as social experiences become more prevalent in enterprise applications. For those who keep an eye on the ever-evolving Facebook platform, you'll recall that they recently rebranded their PDC (preferred developer consultant) group as the PMD (preferred marketing developer), signaling the importance of development resources inside the marketing organization to unlock the potential of social.

The marketing developer they're referring to could be considered a social developer in a broader context. While it's true social has really blossomed in the marketing context and CMOs are winning more and more technical resources, social is starting to work its way more deeply into the enterprise with the help of developers that work outside marketing.

Developers, like the rest of us, have fallen in "like" with social functionality and are starting to imagine how social can transform enterprise applications in the way it has consumer-facing experiences. The thesis of my presentation is that social developers will take many pages from the marketing playbook as they apply social inside the enterprise. To support this argument, lets walk through a range of enterprise applications and explore how consumer-facing social experiences might be interpreted in this context.

Here's one example of how a social experience could be integrated into a sales enablement application. As a marketer, I spend a great deal of time collaborating with my sales colleagues, so I have good insight into their working process. While at Involver, we grew our sales team quickly, and it became evident some of our processes broke with scale.

For example, we used to have weekly team meetings at which we'd discuss what was working and what wasn't from a messaging perspective. One aspect of these sessions focused on "objections" and "responses," where the salespeople would walk through common objections to purchasing and share appropriate responses. We tried to map each context to best answers and we'd capture these on a wiki page. As our team grew, however, participation at scale just wasn't tenable, and our wiki pages quickly lost their freshness.

Imagine giving salespeople a place where they could submit common objections and responses for their colleagues to see, sort, comment on, and vote on. What you'd get is an up-to-date and relevant repository of information. And, if you supported an application like this with a social graph, it would be possible to make good recommendations to individual sales people about the objections they'd likely hear based on vertical, product, region or other graph data.

Taking it even further, you could build in a badging/game element to reward those salespeople who participate the most. Both these examples are based on proven models at work inside consumer-facing applications.

If you want to learn about how HR, Operations, Product Development and Customer Support can leverage social experiences, you’re welcome to join us at JavaOne or join our Social Developer Community to find some of the presentations after OpenWorld.

Wednesday Sep 26, 2012

The New Social Developer Community: a Q&A

Roland SmartIn our last blog, we introduced the opportunities that lie ahead for social developers as social applications reach across every aspect and function of the enterprise. Leading the upcoming JavaOne Social Developer Program October 2 at the San Francisco Hilton is Roland Smart, VP of Social Marketing at Oracle.

I got to ask Roland a few of the questions an existing or budding social developer might want to know as social extends beyond interacting with friends and marketing and into the enterprise.

Why is it smart for developers to specialize as social developers? What opportunities lie in the immediate future that’s making this a critical, in-demand position?

Social has changed the way we interact with brands and with each other across the web. As we acclimate to a new social paradigm we also look to extend its benefits into new areas of our lives.

The workplace is a logical next step, and we're starting to see social interactions more and more in this context. But unlocking the value of social interactions requires technical expertise and knowledge of developing social apps that tap into the social graph.

Developers focused on integrating social experiences into enterprise applications must be familiar with popular social APIs and must understand how to build enterprise social graphs of their own. These developers are part of an emerging community of social developers and are key to socially enabling the enterprise.

Facebook rebranded their Preferred Developer Consultant Group (PDC) and the Preferred Marketing Developers (PMD) to underscore the fact developers are required inside marketing organizations to unlock the full potential of their platform. While this trend is starting on the marketing side with marketing developers, this is just an extension of the social developer concept that will ultimately drive social across the enterprise.

What are some of the various ways social will be making its way into every area of enterprise organizations? How will it be utilized and what kinds of applications are going to be needed to facilitate and maximize these changes?

Check out Oracle’s vision for the social-enabled enterprise. It’s a high-level overview of how social will impact across the enterprise. For example:

HR can leverage social in recruiting and retention
Sales can leverage social as a prospecting tool
Marketing can use social to gain market insight
Customer support can use social to leverage community support to improve customer satisfaction while reducing service cost
Operations can leverage social improve systems

That’s only the beginning. Once sleeves get rolled up and social developers and innovators get to work, still more social functions will no doubt emerge.

What makes Java one of, if not the most viable platform on which to build these new enterprise social applications?

Java is certainly one of the best platforms on which to build social experiences because there’s such a large existing community of Java developers. This means you can affordably recruit talent, and it's possible to effectively solicit advice from the community through various means, including our new Social Developer Community.

Beyond that, there are already some great proof points Java is the best platform for creating social experiences at scale. Consider LinkedIn and Twitter.

Tell us more about the benefits of collaboration and more about what the Oracle Social Developer Community is. What opportunities does that offer up and what are some of the ways developers can actively participate in and benefit from that community?

Much has been written about the overall benefits of collaborating with other developers. Those include an opportunity to introduce yourself to the community of social developers, foster a reputation, establish an expertise, contribute to the advancement of the space, get feedback, experiment with the latest concepts, and gain inspiration.

In short, collaboration is a tool that must be applied properly within a framework to get the most value out of it.

The OSDC is a place where social developers can congregate to discuss the opportunities/challenges of building social integrations into their applications. What “needs” will this community have? We don't know yet.

But we wanted to create a forum where we can engage and understand what social developers are thinking about, excited about, struggling with, etc. The OSDL can then step in if we can help remove barriers and add value in a serious and committed way so Oracle can help drive practice development.

Monday Sep 24, 2012

Dawn of the Enterprise Social Developer

piano catSocial is not just for poking friends, posting videos of cats playing pianos, or even just for brand marketing anymore. It has become a key form of communication internally and externally across every area of the enterprise.

As a Java developer, are you positioning yourself for the integration of social into enterprise business systems that’s on the near horizon? Because it’s the work you do and the applications you build that will influence what the social-enabled enterprise is going to look like and how it’s going to operate.

But as a social developer, step one is wrapping your arms around all the things that are possible. Traditionally, the best exploration, brainstorming and innovation come from collaborating with other developers. That’s how the big questions can be hashed (or hacked) out. Is Java the best social development environment? If not, what is? What’s already being done in terms of application integration?

The JavaOne Social Developer Program will offer up a series of talks and events on those very issues Tuesday, October 2 at the San Francisco Hilton. If you’re interested in embarking on this newest frontier of enterprise social development, you can connect with others who are thinking the same thing and get moving on your first project.

Talks will include:

Emergence Of The Social Enterprise
Extending Social into Enterprise Applications and Business Processes
Intro to Open Graph and Facebook's APIs
Building the Next Wave of Social Commerce Platforms
Social Data and the Enterprise
LinkedIn: A Professional Network Built with Java Technologies and Agile Practice
Social Developer Hackathon

In addition to these learning and discussion opportunities, you might consider joining the new Oracle Social Developer Community (OSDC), where the interaction and collaboration can continue indefinitely.

It doesn’t take a lot of tea leaf reading to know that the cloud will house the enterprise technology of the future, and social (as well as the rich data it brings) is going to be a major part of that as social integrates across every business function as there’s proven value for consumer facing initiatives.

The next phase of social development is going to involve combining enterprise data from multiple sources, new and existing, social and traditional, in order to tell compelling and usable stories. And social is coming to the enterprise quickly, meaning you as a development leader should seek to understand not just what's worked on the consumer side, but what aspects of those successes can be applied inside the organization.

Get educated, get connected, and consider registering for this forward-looking event now to get started with enterprise social development.

Friday Sep 21, 2012

How to Hashtag (Without Being #Annoying)

chimpThe right tool in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing. Giving a chimpanzee a chain saw would not be a pretty picture. And putting Twitter hashtags in the hands of social marketers who were never really sure how to use them can be equally unattractive.

Boiled down, hashtags are for search and organization of tweets. A notch up from that, they can also be used as part of a marketing strategy.

In terms of search, if you’re in the organic apple business, you want anyone who searches “organic” on Twitter to see your posts about your apples. It’s keyword tactics not unlike web site keyword search tactics. So get a clear idea of what keywords are relevant for your tweet.

It’s reasonable to include #organic in your tweet. Is it fatal if you don’t hashtag the word? It depends on the person searching. If they search “organic,” your tweet’s going to come up even if you didn’t put the hashtag in front of it. If the searcher enters “#organic,” your tweet needs the hashtag. Err on the side of caution and hashtag it so it comes up no matter how the searcher enters it.

You’ll also want to hashtag it for the second big reason people hashtag, organization. You can follow a hashtag. So can the rest of the Twitterverse. If you’re that into organic munchies, you can set up a stream populated only with tweets hashtagged #organic. If you’ve established a hashtag for your brand, like #nobugsprayapples, you (and everyone else) can watch what people are tweeting about your company.

So what kind of hashtags should you include? They should be directly related to the core message of your tweet. Ancillary or very loosely-related hashtags = annoying. Hashtagging your brand makes sense. Hashtagging your core area of interest makes sense. Creating a specific event or campaign hashtag you want others to include and spread makes sense (the burden is on you to promote it and get it going).

Hashtagging nearly every word in the tweet is highly annoying. Far and away, the majority of hashtagged words in such tweets have no relevance, are not terms that would be searched, and are not terms needed for categorization. It looks desperate and spammy. Two is fine. One is better. And it is possible to tweet with --gasp-- no hashtags!

applesMake your hashtags as short as you can. In fact, if your brand’s name really is #nobugsprayapples, you’re burning up valuable, limited characters and risking the inability of others to retweet with added comments. Also try to narrow your topic hashtag down. You’ll find a lot of relevant users with #organic, but a lot of totally uninterested users with #food.

Just as you can join online forums and gain credibility and a reputation by contributing regularly to that forum, you can follow hashtagged topics and gain the same kind of credibility in your area of expertise. Don’t just parachute in for the occasional marketing message. And if you’re constantly retweeting one particular person, stop it. It’s kissing up and it’s obvious.

Which brings us to the king of hashtag annoyances, “hashjacking.” This is when you see what terms are hot and include them in your marketing tweet as a hashtag, even though it’s unrelated to your content. Justify it all you want, but #justinbieber has nothing to do with your organic apples.

Equally annoying, piggybacking on a popular event’s hashtag to tweet something not connected to the event. You’re only fostering ill will and mistrust toward your account from the people you’ve tricked into seeing your tweet. Lastly, don’t @ mention people just to make sure they see your tweet. If the tweet’s not for them or about them, it’s spammy.

What I haven’t covered is use of the hashtag for comedy’s sake. You’ll see this a lot and is a matter of personal taste. No one will search these hashtagged terms or need to categorize then, they’re just there for self-expression and laughs. Twitter is, after all, supposed to be fun.  What are some of your biggest Twitter pet peeves? #blogsovernow

Monday Sep 17, 2012

Mobile Deals: the Consumer Wants You in Their Pocket

special offerMobile deals offer something we talk about a lot in social marketing, relevant content. If a consumer is already predisposed to liking your product and gets a timely deal for it that’s easy and convenient to use, not only do you score on the marketing side, it clearly generates some of that precious ROI that’s being demanded of social.

First, a quick gut-check on the public’s adoption of mobile. Nielsen figures have 55.5% of US mobile owners using smartphones. If young people are indeed the future, you can count on the move to mobile exploding exponentially. Teens are the fastest growing segment of smartphone users, and 58% of them have one. But the largest demographic of smartphone users is 25-34 at 74%. That tells you a focus on mobile will yield great results now, and even better results straight ahead.

So we can tell both from statistics and from all the faces around you that are buried in their smartphones this is where consumers are. But are they looking at you? Do you have a valid reason why they should?

Everybody likes a good deal. BIA/Kelsey says US consumers will spend $3.6 billion this year for daily deals (the Groupons and LivingSocials of the world), up 87% from 2011. The report goes on to say over 26% of small businesses are either "very likely" or "extremely likely" to offer up a deal in the next 6 months. Retail Gazette reports 58% of consumers shop with coupons, a 40% increase in 4 years.

When you consider that a deal can be the impetus for a real-world transaction, a first-time visit to a store, an online purchase, entry into a loyalty program, a social referral, a new fan or follower, etc., that 26% figure shows us there’s a lot of opportunity being left on the table by brands.

cashierThe existing and emerging technologies behind mobile devices make the benefits of offering deals listed above possible. Take how mobile payment systems are being tied into deal delivery and loyalty programs. If it’s really easy to use a coupon or deal, it’ll get used. If it’s complicated, it’ll be passed over as “not worth it.”

When you can pay with your mobile via technologies that connects store and user, you get the deal, you get the loyalty credit, you pay, and your receipt is uploaded, all in one easy swipe. Nothing to keep track of, nothing to lose or forget about. And the store “knows” you, so future offers will be based on your tastes.

Consider the endgame. A customer who’s a fan of your belt buckle store’s Facebook Page is in one of your physical retail locations. They pull up your app, because they’ve gotten used to a loyalty deal being offered when they go to your store. Voila. A 10% discount active for the next 30 minutes.

Maybe the app also surfaces social references to your brand made by friends so they can check out a buckle someone’s raving about. If they aren’t a fan of your Page or don’t have your app, perhaps they’ve opted into location-based deal services so you can still get them that 10% deal while they’re in the store. Or maybe they’ve walked in with a pre-purchased Groupon or Living Social voucher.

They pay with one swipe, and you’ve learned about their buying preferences, credited their loyalty account and can encourage them to share a pic of their new buckle on social.

Happy customer. Happy belt buckle company. All because the brand was willing to use the tech that’s available to meet consumers where they are, incentivize them, and show them how much they’re valued through rewards.

Thursday Sep 13, 2012

In Case You Weren’t There: Blogwell NYC

Your roving reporter roved out to another one of’s fantastic Blogwell events, this time in NYC. As Central Park and incredible weather beckoned, some of the biggest brand names in the world gathered to talk about how they’re incorporating social into marketing and CRM, as well as extending social across their entire organizations internally.

Below we present a collection of the live tweets from many of the key sessions

GE @generalelectric
Jon Lombardo, Leader of Social Media COE

How GE builds and extends emotional connections with consumers around health and reaps the benefits of increased brand equity in the process.

GE has a social platform around Healthyimagination to create better health for people.

If you and a friend are trying to get healthy together, you’ll do better. Health is inherently.

Get health challenges via Facebook and share with friends to achieve goals together.

They’re creating an emotional connection around the health context.

You don’t influence people at large. Your sphere of real influence is around 5-10 people.

They find relevant conversations about health on Twitter and engage sounding like a friend, not a brand.

Why would people share on behalf of a brand? Because you tapped into an activity and emotion they’re already having.

To create better habits in health, GE gave away inexpensive, relevant gifts related to their goals.

Create the context, give the relevant gift, get social acknowledgment for giving it.

What you get when you get acknowledgment for your engagement and gift is user generated microcontent.

GE got 12,000 unique users engaged and 1400 organic posts with the healthy gift campaign.

The Dow Chemical Company @DowChemical
Abby Klanecky, Director of Digital & Social Media

Learn how Dow Chemical is finding, training, and empowering their scientists to be their storytellers in social media.

There are 1m jobs coming open in science. Only 200k are qualified for them.

Dow Chemical wanted to use social to attract and talk to scientists.

Dow Chemical decided to use real scientists as their storytellers.

Scientists are incredibly passionate, the key ingredient of a great storyteller.

Step 1 was getting scientists to focus on a few platforms, blog, Twitter, LinkedIn.

Dow Chemical social flow is Core Digital Team - #CMs – ambassadors – advocates.

The scientists were trained in social etiquette via practice scenarios.

It’s not just about sales. It’s about growing influence and the business.

Dow Chemical trained about 100 scientists, 55 are active and there’s a waiting list for the next sessions.

In person social training produced faster results and better participation.

Sometimes you have to tell pieces of the story instead of selling your execs on the whole vision.

Social Media Ethics Briefing: Staying Out of Trouble
Andy Sernovitz, CEO @SocialMediaOrg

How do we get people to share our message for us? We have to have their trust.

The difference between being honest and being sleazy is disclosure.

Disclosure does not hurt the effectiveness of your marketing. No one will get mad if you tell them up front you’re a paid spokesperson for a company.

It’s a legal requirement by the FTC, it’s the law, to disclose if you’re being paid for an endorsement.

Require disclosure and truthfulness in all your social media outreach. Don’t lie to people.

Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements.

Create social media policies and training programs.

If you want to stay safe, never pay cash for social media. Money changes everything. As soon as you pay, it’s not social media, it’s advertising.

Disclosure, to the feds, means clear, conspicuous, and understandable to the average reader.

This phrase will keep you in the clear, “I work for ___ and this is my personal opinion.”

Who are you? Were you paid? Are you giving an honest opinion based on a real experience?

You as a brand are responsible for what an agency or employee or contactor does in your behalf. makes available a Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit.

The point is to not ethically mess up and taint social media as happened to e-mail.

Not only is the FTC cracking down, so is Google and Facebook.

Visa @VisaNews
Lucas Mast, Senior Business Leader, Global Corporate Social Media

Visa built a mobile studio for the Olympics for execs and athletes.

They wanted to do postcard style real time coverage of Visa’s Olympics sponsorships, and on a shoestring.

Challenges included Olympic rules, difficulty getting interviews, time zone trouble, and resourcing.

Another problem was they got bogged down with their own internal approval processes.

Despite all the restrictions, they created and published a variety of and fair amount of content.

They amassed 1000+ views of videos posted to the Visa Communication YouTube channel.

Less corporate content yields more interest from media outlets and bloggers.

They did real world video demos of how their products work in the field vs. an exec doing a demo in a studio.

Don’t make exec interview videos dull and corporate. Keep answers short, shoot it in an interesting place, do takes until they’re comfortable and natural.

Not everything will work. Not everything will get a retweet. But like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Promoting content is as important as creating it.

McGraw-Hill Companies @McGrawHillCos
Patrick Durando, Senior Director of Global New Media

McGraw-Hill has 26,000 employees.

McGraw-Hill created a social intranet called Buzz.

Intranets create operational efficiency, help product dev, facilitate crowdsourcing, and breaks down geo silos.

Intranets help with talent development, acquisition, retention.

They replaced the corporate directory with their own version of LinkedIn.

The company intranet has really cut down on the use of email. Long email threats become organized, permanent social discussions.

The intranet is particularly useful in HR for researching and getting answers surrounding benefits and policies.

Using a profile on your company intranet can establish and promote your internal professional brand.

If you’re going to make an intranet, it has to look great, work great, and employees are going have to want to go there. You can’t order them to like it. 

Tuesday Sep 11, 2012

Content Challenge: You Can Only Get it Here

Part of the content conundrum for brands is figuring out what kind of content customers would find cool, desirable, and relevant. The mere fact many brands have no idea what this content might be is, in itself, pretty alarming. You’d have to have a pretty thorough lack of involvement with and understanding of your customers to not know what they might like.

But despite what should be a great awakening in which consumers are using every technology and trick in the book to shield themselves from ads and commercials, brand self-obsession continues as marketers concentrate on their message, their campaign, what they want to say, and what they want social users to do.

When individuals conduct themselves in that same fashion on Facebook and Twitter, it gets tiresome and starts losing value pretty quickly. Their posts eventually get hidden. Conversely, friends who post things that consistently entertain or inform, with little self-marketing desperation involved, win the coveted “show all updates” setting.

Of course brands are going to use social to market. It’s pretty much the point of having social in the marketing mix. And yes, people who follow a brand’s Twitter account or “Like” a brand’s Facebook Page implicitly state they want to know what’s going on with that brand’s products and services.

But if you have a Facebook friend that assumes you want every one of her posts to be about what wine she likes (Mitsubishi’s current campaign is even based around weeding out pretentious Facebook friends, then running them over), then you know how it must feel for your fans and followers to get a sales pitch for your crackers or whatever you’re selling every single time.

Is there such a thing as content that doesn’t sell but that still advances the brand and makes the consumer more involved and valuable? Of course. And perhaps there are no better companies than enterprise brands to do it. Enterprise organizations are large enough to go beyond a product and engage readers/viewers at higher, broader levels…communicating expertise across entire sectors, subjects and industries. You’re going from pitchman to news source, and getting full credit for it as the presenter.

A recent GigaOM article pointed out the success a San Francisco-based startup called Crunchyroll is having. Their niche (and they proudly admit it’s a niche) is providing Japanese anime, Korean drama and Asian live action content to countries that can’t get it any other way via licensing deals. Shows are available in HD and on the same day they air in the host country. Crunchyroll not only gets 8 million viewers a month, they have 100,000 paying subscribers at $7-12/month.

Got a point, Mike? I do happen to have one. Crunchyroll illustrates the content opportunity enterprise companies have…which is to determine your “area,” the interest graph of your customers, then provide content that speaks to and satisfies those interests that can’t be found anywhere else. At least not in the same style, or of the same quality, or with the same authority. Do what no one else is doing. Provide what no one else is providing in your sector.

If underserved users are willing to pay monthly for access to awkwardly moving cartoon dragons, imagine the audience you could attract with free, useful, non-sales content in your customers’ area of interest. It’s an audience you’ll want in place when the time does come to put out that marketing message.

A content challenge is better than a content conundrum any day.

Friday Sep 07, 2012

Exposed: Fake Social Marketing

Emperor has no clothesBrands and marketers who want to build their social popularity on a foundation of lies are starting to face more of an uphill climb. Fake social is starting to get exposed, and there are a lot of emperors getting caught without any clothes.

Facebook is getting ready to do a purge of “Likes” on Pages that were a result of bots, fake accounts, and even real users who were duped or accidentally Liked a Page. Most of those accidental Likes occur on mobile, where it’s easy for large fingers to hit the wrong space. Depending on the degree to which your Page has been the subject of such activity, you may see your number of Likes go down. But don’t sweat it, that’s a good thing.

The social world has turned the corner and assessed the value of a Like. And the verdict is that a Like is valuable as an opportunity to build a real relationship with a real customer. Its value pales immensely compared to a user who’s actually engaged with the brand. Those fake Likes aren’t doing you any good. Huge numbers may once have impressed, but it’s not fooling anybody anymore. Facebook’s selling point to marketers is the ability to use a brand’s fans to reach friends of those fans. Consequently, there has to be validity and legitimacy to a fan count.

Speaking of mobile, Trademob recently reported 40% of clicks are essentially worthless, because 22% of them are accidental (again with the fat fingers), while 18% are trickery. Publishers will but huge banner ads next to tiny app buttons to increase the odds of an accident. Others even hide a banner behind another to score 2 clicks instead of 1. Pontiflex and Harris Interactive last year found 47% of users were more likely to click a mobile ad accidentally than deliberately. Beyond that, hijacked devices are out there manipulating click data. But to what end for a marketer? What’s the value of a click on something a user never even saw? What’s the value of a seen but accidentally clicked ad if there’s no resulting transaction?

shady salesmanBack to fake Likes, followers and views; they’re definitely for sale on numerous sites, none of which I’ll promote. $5 can get you 1,000 Twitter followers. You can even get followers targeted by interests. One site was set up by an unemployed accountant out of his house in England. He gets them from a wholesaler in Brooklyn, who gets them from a 19-year-old supplier in India. The unemployed accountant is making $10,000 a day. That means a lot of brands, celebrities and organizations are playing the fake social game, apparently not coming to grips with the slim value of the numbers they’re buying.

But now, in addition to having paid good money for non-ROI numbers, there’s the embarrassment factor. At least a couple of sites have popped up allowing anyone to see just how many fake and inactive followers you have. Britain’s Fake Follower Check and StatusPeople are the two getting the most attention. Enter any Twitter handle and the results are there for all to see. Fake isn’t good, period. “Inactive” could be real followers, but if they’re real, they’re just watching, not engaging.

If someone runs a check on your Twitter handle and turns up fake followers, does that mean you’re suspect or have purchased followers? No. Anyone can follow anyone, so most accounts will have some fakes. Even account results like Barack Obama’s (70% fake according to StatusPeople) and Lady Gaga’s (71% fake) don’t mean these people knew about all those fakes or initiated them.

Regardless, brands should realize they’re now being watched, and users are judging the legitimacy of their social channels. Use one of any number of tools available to assess and clean out fake Likes and followers so that your numbers are as genuine as possible. And obviously, skip the “buying popularity” route of social marketing strategy. It doesn’t work and it gets you busted…a losing combination.

Wednesday Sep 05, 2012

Social Targeting: This One's Just for You

Think of social targeting in terms of the archery competition we just saw in the Olympics. If someone loaded up 5 arrows and shot them straight up into the air all at once, hoping some would land near the target, the world would have united in laughter.

But sadly for hysterical YouTube video viewing, that’s not what happened. The archers sought to maximize every arrow by zeroing in on the spot that would bring them the most points.

Marketers have always sought to do the same. But they can only work with the tools that are available. A firm grasp of the desired target does little good if the ad products aren’t there to deliver that target. On the social side, both Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to enhance targeting for marketers. And why not? As the demand to monetize only goes up, they’re quite motivated to leverage and deliver their incredible user bases in ways that make economic sense for advertisers.

You could target keywords on Twitter with promoted accounts, and get promoted tweets into search. They would surface for your followers and some users that Twitter thought were like them. Now you can go beyond keywords and target Twitter users based on 350 interests in 25 categories.

How does a user wind up in one of these categories? Twitter looks at that user’s tweets, they look at whom they follow, and they run data through some sort of Twitter secret sauce. The result is, you have a much clearer shot at Twitter users who are most likely to welcome and be responsive to your tweets. And beyond the 350 interests, you can also create custom segments that find users who resemble followers of whatever Twitter handle you give it.

That means you can now use boring tweets to sell like a madman, right? Not quite.

This ad product is still quality-based, meaning if you’re not putting out tweets that lead to interest and thus, engagement, that tweet will earn a low quality score and wind up costing you more under Twitter’s auction system to maintain. That means, as the old knight in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” cautions, “choose wisely” when targeting based on these interests and categories to make sure your interests truly do line up with theirs.

On the Facebook side, they’re rolling out ad targeting that uses email addresses, phone numbers, game and app developers’ user ID’s, and eventually addresses for you bigger brands.

Why? Because you marketers asked for it. Here you were with this amazing customer list but no way to reach those same customers should they be on Facebook. Now you can find and communicate with customers you gathered outside of social, and use Facebook to do it. Fair to say such users are a sensible target and will be responsive to your message since they’ve already bought something from you.

And no you’re not giving your customer info to Facebook. They’ll use something called “hashing” to make sure you don’t see Facebook user data (beyond email, phone number, address, or user ID), and Facebook can’t see your customer data.

The end result, social becomes far more workable and more valuable to marketers when it delivers on the promise that made it so exciting in the first place. That promise is the ability to move past casting wide nets to the masses and toward concentrating marketing dollars efficiently on the targets most likely to yield results.


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