By Maggie Schneider Huston-Oracle on Feb 05, 2016
Ted Rubin is an author, social marketing strategist, keynote speaker, and acting CMO of Brand Innovators. He sat down with Oracle Social Cloud’s Senior Content Manager Maggie Schneider Huston to discuss how brands can nurture relationships on social media.
Maggie Schneider Huston: What’s the best way for B2B companies to build relationships on social media?
Ted Rubin: It’s so much easier to apply social to a B2B brand. If you’re B2C, you’ve got millions of people you’re trying to connect with. If you’re a B2B brand, you have a much more refined audience. But people always forget that they are selling to a person, not a company. We need to build a relationship. If you feel like we’ve connected, you’ll listen more closely. Personal connections lead to business relationships. I often say, “relationships are like muscle tissue.” The more you use them, the stronger they become.
MSH: Obviously, not every interaction is going to go well. With every relationship, there are bound to be a few missteps. What should brands do then?
TR: They should admit it. Don’t apologize if you don’t mean it, and don’t apologize if you didn’t do anything wrong. But if you’ve done something wrong, you need to fix it. You have to take the time to say, “we realize we have a problem, and it will take us some time to fix it.” Be transparent and authentic. It can be as simple as saying, “we’re going to retrain our employees.” Don’t automatically fire an employee, unless it’s really obvious that it was malicious. We all make mistakes, especially in the social world. The most important thing is to catch those mistakes.
MSH: A lot of employees are scared to post on social media about work - they’re afraid they will say something wrong and get fired. However, we know that employee advocacy (especially on social media) is one of the most important levers brands can pull. What should leaders do to instill confidence in their employees and encourage them to be active on social media?
TR: Leaders should get into the social sphere themselves. They might not share (although they should), but they should at the very least read other people’s posts and show that they’re listening. If you tell your employees that you want them to be social leaders, then you need to lead by example.
Leaders also need to empower employees to get on social channels - even during the work day. Don’t cut your employees off from social. I know that Facebook can be a time suck. But look, I’m 58 years old. In the beginning of my career, if you wanted to waste time, you could find plenty of ways to do it. I used to go to the bathroom just so I could read a book. Leaders need to encourage employees to build their personal brand and influence. Do for others without expectation of anything in return and the authenticity shines through. If you show your employees that your primary concern is helping them grow, then they’re going to be that much more apt to support you in your efforts.
Business is very different these days. In 1980, most business dinners were a drag because they had to be entirely about business. Today, I love going out with my colleagues. We talk about everything. I want my employees sharing experiences and putting things out there, because a lot of the time your business colleagues are also going to be your friends on social media, get to know who you are, and feel that much more connected. A Network gives you Reach, but a Community gives you Power! Networks Connect… Communities Care.
MSH: You’re a divorced dad. How is parenting similar to management?
TR: <laughs> It’s really the other way around. Managing is more like parenting. We don’t want to be managerial in our parenting skills. You know, being a parent is about building a relationship. By the way, that doesn’t always mean I’m your friend. A good parent has a great relationship with their children. It means they’re listening - and hearing - and taking what they’re hearing and applying it to the way they parent or manage. Managing has to become more like parenting, more thoughtful. You’re more worried about the end result than what’s happening right this minute.
Being a divorced dad, we’re not necessarily one big happy family. We have different groups with different responsibilities. We need to come together and get rid of the silos. In a family, it works best if it’s not broken down into what’s most important to each kid. In business, one of the most important things is customer service and marketing working together with one voice and the same goals.
MSH: Ok, I have to ask. What’s the deal with the socks? Do you plan your outfit around your socks?
TR: I’m playful. Socks have become part of my personal brand since 2010. It started because people noticed I was wearing funky socks at conferences. It creates conversation. It makes me approachable. I have CEOs stick out their foot and want to take a #TedSockie when we meet or come across each other serendipitously. It makes it so somebody can say, “what socks are you wearing today?” instead of thinking they have to come up with some bright comment or way to open up a conversation or approach me.
What makes Mack Trucks so special?
Turning A Customer Into An Advocate
To answer this question, we spoke with Jamie Hagen, an independent owner/operator of a Mack Truck. Jamie first appeared on Mack’s radar during a truck show. He was in the market for a new truck, so he test-drove a Mack. His contact information was entered into Oracle Marketing Cloud’s Eloqua system, which allowed Neil to reach out to him personally and build a rapport.
This relationship developed into a genuine friendship. As Jamie described it, “it’s not that their social media made me want to buy a truck. A truck is a big purchase, and needs to be based on more than a feeling. But their Twitter and Facebook definitely made me see that Mack Trucks was a different kind of company. They’re very accessible to their customers.”
After working with a dealer, Jamie bought a tricked out truck that gets nearly 10 miles per gallon. Compared to other big rigs, which usually get 6 miles per gallon, this is an incredible feat of engineering - and inspiring others to take a closer look at Mack. Jamie frequently posts from his truck, highlighting the cool things that are going on.
As Neil says, “It’s getting out there at the driver level, in the weeds and trenches, and spawn[ing] those relationships with those guys… We try to demonstrate that Mack is here - always has been, and always will be. We’ll be a consultant to help you drive your business.”
Twitter Is The New CB
The trucking industry is a small, tight knit community. Before cell phones and satellite radio, truckers spent hours in solitude, driving through the desolate parts of the countryside. CB radio was their only method of communication. Truckers are a friendly bunch, and now, social media (and especially Twitter) has made long distance friendships possible. Jamie has, “hundreds of truck drivers I talk with around the world - in the UK, Australia… Now I’ve known these people for 5 years. It makes the trucking experience a little less lonely.”
Mack is an integral part of this digital conversation. By using the Oracle Social Cloud Social Relationship Management (SRM) tool, they are able to keep track of what people are saying not only about their brand, but about the industry as well. They tapped into the heart of this community with their “The Horn” video, which highlights the history of Mack Trucks. People are encouraged to go to their Tumblr page and contribute their memories of Mack Trucks. With nearly 50 submissions, it’s a testament to the legacy of the Mack Trucks brand. Their Facebook page has hundreds of anecdotes about Mack families. Neil adds, “the purpose of the campaign was to connect with people inside and outside of the industry. The industry is small, so we wanted to reach out to the moms, the women, the people who aren’t necessarily in the industry, so we tied the horn into that.”
Creating a Community
From a numbers perspective, Mack Trucks is killing it. Their Big M social campaign had a 35.7% conversion rate, which was higher than their email conversion rate. Their organic growth is outstanding. They even have sales that they can directly tie back to social campaigns.
From a community perspective, (arguably the more important perspective) they’re setting the standard for all social media campaigns. Neil gets it. “You can’t remove the human element.”
To kick off the new year, we’re diving deep into the major trends for social media marketing. What will the future bring? Here are some thoughts from Oracle Social's Senior Content Manager Maggie Schneider Huston:
I’m not a “good sleeper.” I have struggled my entire life with falling and staying asleep. As a newborn in the hospital the nurses called me, “the baby with the eyes” because I never closed my large, light blue eyes.
I never grew out of it. A few years ago I used the “Sleep Cycle” app to track how poorly I was sleeping. When I showed the data to my doctor, he whipped out his prescription pad and started scribbling.
Fast forward three years, and this is what my daily routine will look like in 2016: I wake up and read a report on my sleep habits, generated from my bed. I weigh myself and learn that I have lost .5lbs, the air quality in my house is good, and that I have a super-low body fat percentage. (Hey, I’m dreaming, okay?) I measure out breakfast, which is then recorded in my daily calorie log, and check my phone to see how long it will take to get to work. I order a ride through Uber and Facebook Messenger, and arrive at work precisely on time. Every click at work is recorded. I use my ClassPass app to find a workout for my lunch hour. After work, I check Yelp for a restaurant recommendation and order takeout. I notice my activity level is low and run a few sets of stairs. Finally, I arrive at home and binge watch something on Netflix until I crash.
In 2010, the exact same day would’ve provided just two major insights for social media marketers: I use online reviews to find restaurants and I watch Netflix. In 2016, every single action in my daily routine will be converted into data points. Things that used to live entirely in the physical world (like how well I slept, how much I ate or what workout I prefer) are now tracked, logged and entered into algorithms. Patterns emerge. “In a world where every device can generate useful information, entirely new business opportunities are presented, and there’s no shortage of people who want to get after them,” says Chuck Hollis, Oracle Senior Vice President of Converged Infrastructure. With the Internet of Things (IoT), customer profiles become richer and customer experience reigns supreme.
Data Becomes Currency in IoT-Saturated World
Social marketers can use this data to provide highly targeted ads for their customers. In 2010, I would have been labeled as a “25-34 year old female, college educated, lives in Atlanta.” In 2016, I’m an “active, college-educated, 25-34 year old female who is employed, tech-savvy, lives in Atlanta, has a 45-minute commute and is interested in health, wellness, and trashy television. “The advent of IoT changes everything. Data has now become the new currency for differentiation and competitive advantage,” says David Ng, Oracle Insight. By converting physical actions into digital data points, the IoT enables marketers to create a more complete profile of their customers.
Every “Thing” Will Be Connected
According to Gartner, 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use in 2016. That’s a 30% increase from 2015. One of the main challenges for marketers is making sense of these disparate data points. Oracle Data Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud and Oracle Social Cloud work closely together to provide a holistic view of the customer. Even more importantly, Oracle Social Cloud’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) tool listens to social media posts in over 30 languages, which is essential in the global marketplace.
Misused, this data could lead to some very creepy actions. For example, I was recently targeted on Facebook with an ad for e-counseling. Needless to say, it was a bit odd - until I remembered that I had "liked" a friend’s post about coping with depression. What had started off as a way for me to support my friend ended up flagging me as a potential customer. That’s… too much.
Finding the sweet spot between targeted advertisement (which is welcome) and too-targeted advertisement (which is invasive) will be the biggest challenge for social marketers using IoT in 2016. When in doubt, sleep on it - or in my case, lie awake, stare at the ceiling and ruminate for hours.
This article was written by Oracle’s VP of eCommerce and Social Bill Hobbib. It originally appeared in ForbesBrandVoice.
Every company says it wants to be “customer-centric” and deliver great “customer experience,” but only a handful are able to turn their customers into brand advocates.
Roughly defined, such advocates are not only willing but eager to say great things about a brand or defend it without any incentive. Studies show that brand advocates spend twice as much with a company as regular customers do and have five times the lifetime value. Yet 77% of customers still say they have no relationship with a brand, indicating that companies are leaving a lot of business on the table.
Companies serious about improving their customers’ experiences and boosting brand loyalty must do their own analyses to determine the root causes of the disconnect and the gaps to be filled. To assist you in mapping out a plan, here are five basic “Inside Out” steps and five “Outside In” steps to consider.
To read more, click here:
As part of our ongoing conversation about content marketing, we reached out to Jeffrey L. Cohen (@jeffreylcohen) a marketer, strategist, author, speaker and blogger with a 20-plus year career in business to business (B2B) marketing. He is the director of content strategy at the Oracle Marketing Cloud; coauthor of The B2B Social Media Book, which has been translated into Italian, Korean and Vietnamese; and is the co-founder and managing editor of SocialMediaB2B.com, the leading online resource for social media’s impact on business to business marketing. Jeff spoke with Maggie Schneider Huston, Oracle Social Cloud’s Senior Content Manager, about overcoming content marketing challenges.
Maggie Schneider Huston: How do you set a content marketing strategy? What factors should a business consider? Take me through it step-by-step.
Jeff Cohen: A content marketing strategy is not that different from creating a marketing strategy. It all starts with your audience. The more you understand about who you are trying to reach, the easier it is to create this strategy. Many B2B companies already have detailed personas as part of their marketing, and these come in very handy when crafting your content marketing.
The next thing to focus on is the message. Again, it sounds like marketing, but in a content marketing world this may be driven by the platforms your audience frequents or the kinds of content they consume. A consumer company with millennial customers would create a way to tell their ongoing brand story with images on Instagram, and a B2B company might provide helpful business articles on their blog or LinkedIn.
Once your prospects or customers become aware of your content, what action would you like them to take? This is where content marketing begins to stray from a traditional marketing approach. The point is to get some sort of engagement from your audience, where they take some action that shows an affinity with your brand or its ideas. In the examples above, the brand on Instagram is looking for more than likes or even comments, but shares or even their audience sharing their own images. The B2B company entices their prospects with a call-to-action on every blog post, offering a more extensive piece of content, like an ebook or white paper, in exchange for contact information.
And the last part of this simple content marketing strategy is how you measure success. These goals must align with your business, so you can talk about success in the same terms as others in your organization, especially executives. Don’t tout your ebook downloads when everyone else focuses on marketing-qualified leads. Don’t boast about likes when the business goals are about sales. These metrics should be agreed upon beforehand, so you will know if your content marketing efforts are meeting company goals.
MSH: How do you convince the C-suite that this matters? Do you ever face resistance?
JC: The main philosophy behind content marketing is that you provide something of value to your prospects and customers to build trust and ensure retention and advocacy. The C-suite understands that customers now hold the power in the relationship and this is the new way to build it. Cold-calling, product-focused marketing and pure brand-awareness advertising are no longer the means to success in business.
If you encounter resistance from executives in taking this approach, you can start by piloting something small. Pick a product, or persona, or market and create helpful content. Make sure you agree on what success looks like from the start, and you have enough time to generate those results.
And remember, it may not just be executives who resist this idea. Other marketing colleagues may also expect you to fail. Using content marketing is a cultural mindset, and not all businesses are ready for it.
MSH: Where do marketers frequently make mistakes in content marketing?
JC: One of the biggest content marketing mistakes is when marketers don’t put themselves in the minds of their prospects. This causes them to create content about their products. Prospects don’t care about your products. They care about solutions to their own business problems. If your content doesn’t address that, they will not care about it.
Another mistake is focusing on the wrong metrics. It is critical for brands to build their own audiences that are separate from their social channels, for example, an email list, but that is not a goal. That is a means to the end. The goals need to relate to leads and sales, and in the same way others in the company talk about these results.
MSH: How do you manage content across different platforms? How do you stay organized?
JC: The core of our content approach is based on the ebooks we release. We use the editorial calendar within Oracle Content Marketing to show the publication dates and the associated blog posts of these pieces, as well as content offerings from other teams. We also provide links to production schedules, PDFs and associated artwork from within the calendar for more detail. Everyone in our marketing organization has access to this calendar, so they can create their own plans for other channels based on our new content.
“Content marketing” was the hot word during OpenWorld in October. We wanted to dive into this topic, so we reached out to our own content marketing expert in the Oracle family: Steve Olenski, Senior Content Strategist with Oracle Marketing Cloud, Forbes contributor and well-respected industry influencer. In the first part of this series, Steve explained the essence of content marketing. Today, he’s telling Maggie Schneider Huston, Senior Content Manager with Oracle Social Cloud, how to implement your content marketing strategy.
Maggie Schneider Huston: How do you create a content marketing strategy? What are the most important KPIs that a B2B company should use?
Steve Olenski: Before you do anything, you need to answer some questions:
Why are you doing content marketing? To engage your customers and prospects? To sell widgets? Maybe.
What is your business plan and how will you measure it? This ties directly into the KPI question. The key KPIs will absolutely vary by company. There is a fantastic infographic here which lays out the key KPIs content marketers need to be aware of: visits, unique visits, social shares, comments, conversion rate and MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads.) But, as I said, KPIs will vary based on your individual goals so it’s very important to establish the plan and goals first.
MSH: As a content creator, sometimes I feel like I’m juggling 10 things at once. How do you organize all of the moving parts?
SO: Lots of coffee. <laughs> Ok, that’s a personal remedy of mine. This is going to sound very cliche-ish but it really comes down to priority. What is the most important thing at that particular moment? You have to make that decision knowing full well that in the next moment it could change. It is a constant vigil, for sure when it comes to content marketing. I’ve got one eye on the present and one eye on the future. Oh, and a third eye on the past to look at our measurement and analytics. That’s why we’re fortunate on the Oracle Content Marketing team to have folks like Jeff Cohen and Chris Moody, along with myself to keep that steady vigil and have all those eyes, literally on everything.
MSH: I’ve got limited resources. I’d love to produce white papers, infographics, blogs, and videos - but I can’t. What types of content do you find most effective?
SO: This is perhaps the most-loaded question… ever.
MSH: <laughs> Well, it’s one that keeps coming up. People want to know what works!
SO: There is simply no right answer to this and never, ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Think about it. When’s the last time you bought a once-size-fits-all piece of clothing and loved and raved about it? Exactly. Just as the key KPIs will vary by company, so too will the types of content that will be effective. It is a matter of, here’s that word again - vigil. Keeping a constant eye on what is working and what is not. You may see one month an e-book perform very well then the next e-book bomb. So do e-books work or not? Well, obviously, you would have dig deeper into why one worked and one didn’t. You cannot make a blanket assumption or draw a blanket conclusion across any given type of content. You have to find what works, then dig and find out why it worked. Then test it again and again.
MSH: Any tips or tricks to share? Common problems, and how to overcome them?
SO: As far as tips and tricks go… I could write a 5,000 word manifesto when it comes to tips but in the interest of time and for fear of boring everyone to tears, I would add that content marketing is, to me, all about “being there.” And what I mean by that is being there where your customers and prospects are, and then in turn delivering them content that is relevant to them - not you. A common problem I see is brands producing content that, while it may look cool and trendy, has zero relevance to their audience. In other words, they’re doing it for themselves. Another problem is one I touched on the last time I spoke with you, Maggie, which I refer to as the Not Always Selling (N.A.S.) Doctrine. Do not try and sell something via every piece of content you produce - please. I beg of you. Tell stories. Tug on heartstrings. But be genuine at all turns.
To keep up with Steve, follow him on Twitter.
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