Friday Nov 30, 2012

Social Engagement: One Size Doesn't Fit Anyone

magazineThe key to achieving meaningful social engagement is to know who you’re talking to, know what they like, and consistently deliver that kind of material to them. Every magazine for women knows this. When you read the article titles promoted on their covers, there’s no mistaking for whom that magazine is intended.

And yet, confusion still reigns at many brands as to exactly whom they want to talk to, what those people want to hear, and what kind of content they should be creating for them. In most instances, the root problem is brands want to be all things to all people. Their target audience…the world!

Good luck with that. It’s 2012, the age of aggregation and custom content delivery. To cope with the modern day barrage of information, people have constructed technological filters so that content they regard as being “for them” is mostly what gets through.

Even if your brand is for men and women, young and old, you may want to consider social properties that divide men from women, and young from old. Yes, a man might find something in a women’s magazine that interests him. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to subscribe to it, or buy even one issue. In fact he’ll probably never see the article he’d otherwise be interested in, because in his mind, “This isn’t for me.” It wasn’t packaged for him.

News Flash: men and women are different. So it’s a tall order to craft your Facebook Page or Twitter handle to simultaneously exude the motivators for both. The Harris Interactive study “2012 Connecting and Communicating Online: State of Social Media” sheds light on the differing social behaviors and drivers.

-65% of women (vs. 59% of men) stay glued to social because they don’t want to miss anything.

-25% of women check social when they wake up, before they check email. Only 18% of men check social before e-mail.

-95% of women surveyed belong to Facebook vs. 86% of men.

-67% of women log in to Facebook once a day or more vs. 54% of men.

-Conventional wisdom is Pinterest is mostly a woman-thing, right? That may be true for viewing, but not true for sharing. Men are actually more likely to share on Pinterest than women, 23% to 10%.

-The sharing divide extends to YouTube. 68% of women use it mainly for consumption, as opposed to 52% of men.

-Women are as likely to have a Twitter account as men, but they’re much less likely to check it often. 54% of women check it once a week compared to 2/3 of men.

Obviously, there are some takeaways from this depending on your target. Women don’t want to miss out on anything, so serialized content might be a good idea, right? Promotional posts that lead to a big payoff could keep them hooked. Posts for women might be better served first thing in the morning. If sharing is your goal, maybe male-targeted content is more likely to get those desired shares. And maybe Twitter is a better place to aim your male-targeted content than Facebook.

Some grocery stores started experimenting with male-only aisles. The results have been impressive. Why? Because while it’s true men were finding those same items in the store just fine before, now something has been created just for them. They have a place in the store where they belong.

Each brand’s strategy and targets are going to differ. The point is…know who you’re talking to, know how they behave, know what they like, and deliver content using any number of social relationship management targeting tools that meets their expectations.

If, however, you’re committed to a one-size-fits-all, “our content is for everybody” strategy (or even worse, a “this is what we want to put out and we expect everybody to love it” strategy), your content will miss the mark for more often than it hits.

@mikestiles
Photo via stock.schng

Tuesday Nov 27, 2012

Social HCM: Is Your Team Listening?

Word BalloonsDoes integrating Social HCM into your enterprise make sense? Consider Sam and Christina.

Sam is a new hire at a big company. On the job 3 weeks, a question has come up on how to properly file an expense report to get reimbursed. It was covered in the onboarding session, but shockingly enough, Sam didn’t memorize or write down every word of the session. The answer is probably in a handout, in a stack of handouts 2 inches thick. It also might be on the employee web site…somewhere.

Christina is a new hire at a different big company. She has the same question. She logs into her company’s social network, goes to the “new hires” group, asks her question and gets an answer in seconds.

Christina says, “Cool!” Sam says, “Grrrr.” It’s safe to say the qualified talent your company wants is accustomed to using social platforms to communicate and get quick answers. As such, Christina is comfortable at her new company, whereas Sam is wondering what he’s gotten himself into.

Companies that cling to talent communication and management systems that don’t speak to talent’s needs or expectations put themselves at risk. Right from the recruiting stage, prospects can determine if a company has embraced the communications tools of the 21st century. If they don’t see it, alarm bells go off. With great talent more in demand than ever, enterprises should reconsider making “this is the way we do it, you adapt to us” their mantra.

Other blogs have clearly outlined that apart from meeting top recruits’ expectations, Social HCM benefits the organization itself in terms of efficiency, talent performance & measurement.

Recruiting:
Jobvite shows 64% of companies hired using social. 89% of job seekers are using social in their search. Social can give employers access to relevant communities of prospects and advance the brand. Nucleus Research found general hiring software can provide over 1,000% ROI by reducing churn and improving screening. Social talent acquisition should perform at least as well.

Learning & Development:
Employees, learning from the company or from peers, can be kept on top of the latest needed skillsets and engage in self-paced training so as to advance within the company.

Performance Management:
Just as gamers are egged on by levels and achievements, talent can reach for workplace kudos, be they shout-outs from peers & managers or formally established milestones. Plus employee reviews become consistent and fair as managers have access to the cumulative feedback social offers.

Workflow and Collaboration:
With workforces dispersing in terms of physical location, social provides a platform that helps eliminate drawbacks that would have brought just 10 years ago. Finding and connecting with just the right colleague to get the most relevant info at any given time has never been more possible…or expected.

While yes, marketing has taken the social lead inside the enterprise, HCM (with the word “human” right there in its name) is the obvious locale for the next big integration of social in business. The technology is there. At Oracle, Fusion HCM apps are deeply embedded with Social HCM…just one example of systems taking social across the enterprise.

Christina’s company is communicating with her in ways she’s used to. Sam’s company may as well be trying to talk to him using signal flags.

@mikestiles
Photo via stock.xchng

Wednesday Nov 21, 2012

13 MORE Things from the Oracle Social Summit You Should Know

Social Summit SignIn our previous blog, we started giving those of you who couldn’t make it just a sampling of the valuable takeaways from the first annual Oracle Social Summit, held Nov 14 and 15 in Las Vegas. And while yes, 13 items is a pretty healthy sampling, we wanted to go the extra mile and give you 13 more, an indication of just how much great information came out of it.  Follow the arrow, and come on in as if you were there with us.

1. Weber Shandwick takes a 70/20/10 approach when advising clients how to allocate resources to paid social opportunities. 70% of spend should go toward paid opportunities the agency and client both know work, 20% should go toward paid social the agency knows works, and 10% should go toward experimentation. (Matt Dickman – Weber Shandwick)

2. By 2017, the technically competent CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. (Gartner Study)

3. CIOs are focused on infrastructure. As the roles of the CMO and CIO continue coming together, those CIOs have to make a very conscious decision to get CMOs what they need.

4. It’s now harder for brands to differentiate based on product. The advantage will go to the brands that are successful in garnering customer trust.

5. More and more, enterprise software is going to start looking like the software consumers are used to seeing and using.

6. You will see brands prioritizing mobile and dropping investments in www, HTML, POS systems, etc.

7. The social graph has to be added to brands’ customer data for a more holistic view. Customers will give you the information you need if the reward is appropriate.

8. Viacom did a study that showed viewers are most honest on social. Not so much on surveys or other feedback vehicles.

9. How are you determining your influencers? Influence isn’t about reach. It’s about getting people to change behavior.

10. A mix of skills is becoming critically important in a social staff. It shouldn’t be a mixture of several disciplines, not just a bunch of “social experts.”

11. If senior management isn’t engaged, the social team is forced into guessing what might be considered a “success” by the C-suite.

12. Mobile customization will be getting big investments from brands in 2013. Brands need to provide shoppers utility, not just information. 75% will use mobile this holiday season to avoid in-store madness.

13. Data becomes information, information becomes insight, and insight becomes actionable.

The Oracle Social Summit brought together brands, agencies, Oracle social experts and industry thought leaders to take a serious look at where social stands today, and where it’s headed in the near future. Given the speed of social’s evolution, attending such events (or at least reading nifty summary blogs) is a good investment in making sure your enterprise isn’t falling gradually behind.

Friday Nov 16, 2012

13 Things From the Oracle Social Summit You Should Know

Oracle held its first annual Oracle Social Summit, “The School for the Socially Gifted,” this past week in Las Vegas.  If anyone came to the event uncertain as to why Oracle has such an interest in social, and what its plans for social are, they left with an entirely new vision of where social is headed, and why.

For those unable to attend, I was able to keep my MacBook charged just long enough to capture some of the more pertinent takeaways.

1. The social enterprise is inevitable.  Social technology is disrupting the hierarchies of big companies.  It’s a revolution in corporate structures, just as it has been in various governments.  It’s not crazy to ask yourself if your CEO is the next Mubarak.  (David Kilpatrick Author of “The Facebook Effect” and founder of the Techonomy Conference)

2. The social enterprise represents collaboration on steroids.  It’s tapping into the power of your people, as opposed to keeping them “in their place.” 

3. 1 in every 7 humans on earth is an active Facebook user.  75% have posted a negative comment after a poor customer experience.  The average user will inform 53 people of a bad experience.

4. Checking social media is the 2nd biggest use of phones now.  Reading posts from brands is 4th.

5. 70% of marketers have little or no understanding of the social conversations happening around their brand.

6. Advertising, when done well, is content we care about, preferably informed by those we trust.

7. Acquiring low-quality fans through gimmicks, or focusing purely on fan acquisition is a mistake.  And relying purely on organic distribution is a mistake.  (John Yi, Head of Marketing Partnerships – Facebook)

8. Using all this newfound data and insight serves to positively affect the customer experience.  It allows organizations to now leverage the investments they’ve made in social up to now.

9. Social is not a marketing utopia where everything is free.  It’s pay to play.  The paid component is about driving attention. 

10. We are only in the infancy of ad-targeting opportunities in social.  There’s an evolution underway from interest-based targeting to action-based targeting.

11. There’s actually very little overlap of the people following you on different social platforms.  Don’t assume it’s the same audience on each.

12. People who can create content and who also have an understanding of what drives that content are growing increasingly valuable.

13. Oracle Social’s future is enterprise SRM, integrated across marketing, selling, service, HR and every other corner of the organization.

And in case you thought those were the only gems to come out of the summit, you may want to keep an eye out for Tuesday’s Social Spotlight, ever so aptly titled “13 More Things from the Oracle Social Summit You Should Know.”

Monday Nov 12, 2012

Merging Social Accounts: What We Learned This Weekend

Guest Post by Erika Brookes

Girl in CornerWe learned that it’s not always as easy as you think it’s going to be. While it’s widely accepted that merging multiple owned Facebook Pages that are duplicating communities and putting out the same type of content is a best practice, actually pulling it off without rattling fans is a trickier proposition.

Facebook is nice and clear about how to merge Facebook Pages. Although content is not carried over, Likes from the pages you’re merging are. So you can imagine the surprise when such fans start seeing posts in their News Feed from a page they don’t believe they ever Liked. One community member accurately likened it to having your bank come under another bank’s brand name. The Facebook Page changes to the new brand, just like your debit card, emails, signs and other communication.

This weekend we did our merge. The Facebook communities of Vitrue and Involver were pulled into one community, Oracle Social. Could we have handled it better? Oh yeah.

Our intent was to make sure, to the fullest extent possible, that the fans of the Vitrue and Involver brand pages were well-informed about the pending page merges in ADVANCE of the merge. While many were aware that Oracle acquired the three companies, many were not.

We learned from fan feedback that we should have sent notifications MUCH earlier to make the brand Page merge crystal clear and to answer any questions. That was our bad, our responsibility and we apologize for Oracle Social showing up in your News Feed if you were not aware that it was a result of your fandom of Vitrue or Involver. It was our job to make you aware well in advance.

Some felt they had never Liked the fan Pages of Vitrue or Involver, so they were understandably upset (some cultures may call it “fit to be tied”) when they found themselves fans of Oracle Social. One thing to consider is that since 2009, brands and developers have used and enjoyed free Involver tab apps like Twitter, RSS and YouTube (1.2 million of which are currently active), which included an opt-in Liking the Involver Page. Often, when Liking happens in a manner outside of the traditional clicking of a Like button on a brand Page, it’s easy to forget a Page was indeed Liked.

Lastly, a few felt that their Like of the Page had been “bought.” It was not. No fans or Likes were separately purchased. Yes, the companies and the social properties of Vitrue and Involver were acquired by Oracle. Those brands are now being coordinated into the larger Oracle brand. In social media, that means those brands are being integrated into the Oracle Social community.

So what now? We apologize and apply lessons learned. We learned that you not only have to communicate thoroughly and clearly, but you have to communicate well in advance of any actionable items that will affect fans. We’re more than willing to walk straight to the woodshed when we deserve it.

Going forward, the social team here is dedicated to facilitating content, discussion and sharing around social for marketers, agencies, IT stakeholders and social staffs, including community managers. We anticipate Oracle Social being the premier gathering place for true social innovators as we move into social’s exciting next phase of development. Inevitably, some will still feel they are fans of the Page in error. While we hate to see you go, you may unlike the Page if it’s not relevant or useful to you.

Let’s continue to contribute, participate, foster our desire to learn, and move forward together positively and constructively - both for current fans of the community and the many fans to come.

Friday Nov 09, 2012

How Big Data and Social Won the Election

Woman VotingThe story of big data’s influence on the outcome of the US Presidential election is worth a good look, because a) it’s a harbinger of things to come, and b) it’s an example of similar successes available to any enterprise seriously resourcing integrated big data, modeling, and data-driven execution on all assets, including social.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina fielded a data and analytics brain trust 5 times larger than 2008. At that time, there were numerous databases from various sources, few of them talking to each other. This time, the mission was to be metrics-centered and measure everything measurable, and in context with all the other data.

Big data showed them exactly what they needed to know and told them what to do about it.

It showed them women 40-49 on the west coast would donate big money if they got to eat with George Clooney. Women on the east coast would pony up to hang out with Sarah Jessica Parker. Extensive daily modeling showed them what kinds of email appeals, from who, and to whom, would prove most successful in raising cash, recruiting volunteers, and getting out the vote. Swing state voters were profiled and approached with more customized targeting that at any time in history.

Ads were purchased on specific shows watched by the targets, increasing efficiency 14% over traditional media buys. For all the criticism of the candidate’s focus on appearing on comedy and entertainment shows, and local radio morning shows, that’s where the data sent them to reach the voters most likely to turn out for them.

And then there was social. Again, more than in any other election, Facebook was used for virtual, highly efficient door-to-door canvasing. Facebook fans got pictures of friends in swing states and were asked to encourage them to act. Using that approach, 1 in 5 peer-to-peer appeals led to the desired action.

Assumptions, gut, intuition, campaign experience, all took a backseat to strategy shifts solidly backed up by data. Zeroing in on demographics likely to back the President and tracking their mood daily literally changed the voter landscape. The Romney team watched Obama voters appear seemingly out of thin air. One Obama campaign aide said, “We ran the election 66,000 times every night.”

Which brings us to your organization.

If you’re starting to feel like the battle-cry of “but this is the way we’ve always done it” is starting to put you in an extremely vulnerable position, you’re right. Social has become a key communication tool of the 21st century. Failing to use it, or failing to invest in a deep understanding of who your customers and prospects are so the content you post there will achieve desired actions and results, will leave you waking up one morning wondering, “What happened?”

@mikestiles
Photo stock.xchng

Tuesday Nov 06, 2012

Are You Meeting Social Customer Service Expectations?

Customer ServiceWhether it’s B2B or B2C, one sure path to repeat business is making sure your buyer has a memorably pleasant and successful customer service experience with you. If they get that kind of treatment consistently, that’s called a relationship. And those aren’t broken easily.

Social customer service, driven by integrated SRM (social relationship management) technology, is the venue that can effectively connect customers not only to the brand, but to other customers. Positive experiences, once administered, don’t just rest with the recipient. They’re published in the form of public raves and peer-to-peer recommendation, a force far more actionable than push advertising.

What’s more, your customers have come to expect access to you and satisfaction from you using social.

An NM Incite study shows 83% of Twitter users and 71% of Facebook users expect to get an answer from brands the same day they post to them on their social assets. To make sure you’re responding, you’ve got to have a tech platform that’s set up to moderate and alert so you’ll know ASAP a customer needs help.

The more integrated your social enterprise is, the faster you can not only respond, but respond with the answer they’re looking for, because your system is connected to the internal resources that can surface the answer or put wheels in motion to rectify the situation in the shortest amount of time possible.

But if you go to the necessary lengths to make sure your customers feel valued and important, will they really reward you? The study says 71% of consumers who got quick and effective responses from companies they contacted via social were more likely to recommend the brand to their friends and followers.

So yes, sweeping people off their feet pays big dividends in terms of word-of-mouth marketing. But you should be keenly aware of the reverse side of that coin. Give people a negative experience, either in real world or virtual customer service, and that message is highly likely to get amplified through social channels faster and louder.

Only 36% of the NM Incite study’s respondents reported that their problems were solved quickly and effectively. 36%? That’s hardly an impressive number. It gets worse. 10% never got so much as a response - at all. Going back to the relationship analogy, companies that are this deep in the ditch where customer service is concerned are making their girl or boyfriends really easy for a competitor to steal.

Given the technology tools and data available right now for having an intimate knowledge of the customer, what products they’ve purchased, likely problems with those products, effective resolutions to those problems, and follow-up communication to gauge satisfaction, there are fewer excuses than ever for making the lifeblood of your business feel like you couldn’t care less.

@mikestiles

Friday Nov 02, 2012

9 Ways Facebook Monetization Could Change Your Marketing

Think Facebook monetization isn’t a head game?

Bored kidImagine creating something so functional, fun and addictive you literally amass about 1/7th of the planet’s population as an audience. You have 1 billion users that use it at least once a month. But analysts and marketers look at what you’ve done and say, “eh…not good enough.”

What if you had a TV show that garnered 1/7 of Earth’s population as an audience? How much would a spot cost? And how fast would marketers write that check, even without the targeting and engagement analytics Facebook offers?

Having already changed the marketing landscape forever, if you’re Facebook’s creator, you’d have to be scratching your head and asking, “Wow, what more does a product need to do?” Facebook’s been busy answering that very question with products and betas that will likely directly affect your brand’s strategy.

Item 1: Users can send physical gifts to friends through Facebook based on suggestions from user data. A giant step toward the potential power of social commerce.

Item 2: Users can pay $7 to promote posts for higher visibility. Individual users, not just marketers, are being leveraged as a revenue stream. Not impressive enough? There’s also the potential Craigslist killer Facebook Marketplace.

Item 3: Mobile ads. 600 million+ access Facebook on smartphones. According to the company, half of the $1 million a day generated by Sponsored Stories as of late June was coming from mobile. Ads in News Feeds seen on mobile had click-through rates 23x higher than on desktop News Feeds or the right side panel.

Item 4: App developers can buy install ads that show up in mobile News Feeds so reliance on discovery in app stores is reduced.

Item 5: Want your posts seen by people who never liked your Page? A test began in August where you could appear in non-fans’ News Feeds on both web and mobile.

Item 6: How about an ability to use Facebook data to buy ads outside of Facebook? A mobile ad network is being tested to get your targeted messages on non-Facebook apps and sites surfaced on devices.

Item 7: Facebook Collections, Facebook’s answer to Pinterest. Users can gather images of desired products and click through to the retailer to buy. Keep focusing on your imagery.

Item 8: Facebook Offers, Facebook’s answer to the Groupons and Living Socials of the world. You can send deals to your fans’ News Feeds.

Item 9: Facebook Exchange lets you track what fans do on Facebook and across the entire Web. Could lead to a Facebook ad network leveraging Facebook users and data but not limiting exposure to the Facebook platform.

Marketers are seeing increasing value in Facebook (and Twitter for that matter).  But as social grows and adjusts, will marketing budgets aimed in that direction grow and adjust accordingly, and within a reasonable time frame?

@mikestiles
Photo Christie Merrill/stock.xchng

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