Wednesday May 27, 2015

3 Lessons Learned from Internet Week New York

Last week, Oracle Social Cloud sent Senior Content Manager Maggie Schneider Huston to Internet Week in New York City. Below are her thoughts from the experience: 

1. You were Periscoping like crazy! What happened?

I confess - this was my first experience with Periscope, and it was pretty cool. Coming from a broadcast news background, I was very familiar with live video but unsure how well it would play from our @OracleSocial handles. I discovered viewers really liked seeing interaction on the floor of the conference, but not the panels. I spent about an hour and a half walking through the conference, going to exhibits, and talking with the representatives. People loved it! We had over 600 viewers and 3000 hearts. It was a huge success. 

I built on that idea by grabbing the keynote speakers AFTER their panels and conducting my own interviews with them. It got a lot more interaction than the static shot of their panels, and it allowed me to tailor questions for my audience. My favorite part was when our viewers told me questions to ask the people I was interviewing - I really felt like I was being useful for our customers.

2. What were some of the main themes from the conference?

First and foremost, privacy and big data dominated nearly every conversation. As consumers, we’re generating a lot of data points across multiple platforms and devices. Oracle Social Cloud Group Vice President Meg Bear summarized this concept as “audience of one,” where marketers combine these data points to paint a complete portrait of a customer. With this audience of one, consumers will receive highly targeted marketing.

On the flip side of this, however, is privacy concerns. At what point does it become creepy that a company knows intimate details of your life? How do you keep private information private? FTC Commissioner Julie Brill raised a very interesting example: if you’re a woman and using an app to track your menstrual cycle, that information can be sold to third parties. When paired with other data points, it’s possible that a company could send you specific marketing based on when you are ovulating, PMSing, or whatever.

Nuala O’Connor, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, expanded on consumer privacy as well. As consumers become conscious that their digital footsteps are being tracked and marketing becomes more targeted, our society at large becomes more siloed. Intellectual exploration will be limited, as we are not forced to go beyond our comfort zone. 

As a mother of three, I asked her how she teaches her children about data privacy. Here’s what she said:


In short - what are you walking away with?

Gary Vaynerchuk said it best: “Be a doer.” Be a practitioner of social media. In an environment that is new and rapidly evolving, the only way to stay on top is to keep trying. You can’t sit back and observe social media - you need to participate.



Thursday May 14, 2015

Brand Networks Acquires SHIFT

In March of 2014, Oracle Social Cloud announced our open API strategy to deliver more choice, flexibility and ongoing expertise for our customer's paid social media solutions. SHIFT was one of our inaugural partners. Earlier this year, Brand Networks became part of our ecosystem as a new partner. Today, Brand Networks announced their acquisition of SHIFT. We couldn’t be more thrilled as these two complimentary companies can together offer better solutions, scale, analytics and innovation for customers. 

At the heart of Brand Networks is the Relevance Engine, which is designed to help marketers be more efficient and effective across earned, paid and owned channels.

SHIFT is a social advertising platform that offers workflow automation, data analysis and easy campaign execution.

Together, they now power $500 million in advertising spend for the world’s best known brands and agencies, including half of the Fortune 100 and 17 of the 25 largest U.S. advertisers (AdAge). 

While both of these companies were partners with Oracle Social Cloud independently, their merger will offer Oracle Social Cloud customers the ability to reach more customers and drive innovation more quickly in the social market. In order to deliver the right content, to the right person, at the right time, on the right device, you need a deeply integrated platform that incorporates listening, publishing, and big data - exactly what Oracle’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform does. 

Meg Bear, Group Vice President of Oracle Social Cloud adds, “As social becomes more mature, it is increasingly important to have a comprehensive social business solution. We believe a complete platform, along with a powerful ecosystem, provides our customers best-in-class capabilities to drive superior customer engagement. Partners like Brand Networks and SHIFT allow us to deliver on that promise and continue to innovate at the speed of social.”

Read more from SHIFT and Brand Networks.

Friday May 08, 2015

Oops! How to Recover from a Social Media Fail - and Prevent One in the Future


Face facts: we’re humans. We make mistakes. Here’s how to recover (and prevent) social media mistakes.

Breathe. 

First things first - take a deep breath. You probably made the mistake in the first place by going too fast. Slow down. Don’t compound the mistake by reacting impulsively. 

Acknowledge it - publicly, clearly, and honestly

This is not the time to exercise your pre-law degree. We know what the definition of “is,” is, thank you very much. Be clear about your mistake, and apologize sincerely. Be candid with your readers about what went wrong. Pre-scheduled tweet take on a new meaning in light of breaking news? Social Media Manager accidentally mix up their personal and professional profiles? An attempted joke fall painfully flat? Hacked? Explain. It’s always best to be honest with your readers. It builds trust and reminds them of your humanity, too. 

Fix it - and follow up on it


If it’s a systemic problem (for example, a prescheduled tweet gone awry) give your readers an action plan on what you’ll do to prevent this in the future. If it’s an employee gone rogue, it may be appropriate to mention the disciplinary action that was taken, and steps that you’ll take in the future to prevent this type of mistake.  

General Guidelines to Avoid a Derpy Situation

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of gold. Follow these rules to help stay employed. 

Don’t jump on the bandwagon

#RoyalBaby is trending? That’s nice. Unless you’re selling baby products, there’s really no reason for you to chime in on this conversation. It’s obvious pandering, and it can really only hurt you. In that same vein, research your hashtags. For example, #LetsDoThis is associated with a twitter party, an encouragement tweet, and a picture of a dog in a sports jersey. #BeSmart

Be careful with your puns

You may crack yourself up, but you also might be offending a lot of people. Remember - sarcasm doesn’t have a special font (much to our chagrin) so readers may not understand what you’re trying to say.

Cinco de Mayo is a good example. Many brands thought it would be cute to use “Juan” instead of the word “one” in their posts. To some, it’s cute. To others, it’s racist. Avoid questionable racism whenever possible. 

Proofread

Proofread, proof-read, proof read. Do you know which version is correct? (It’s one word, no hyphen, for those playing along at home.) Read your posts out loud - it’s a great way to catch any mistakes. 

Wednesday May 06, 2015

So You Think You Can Be a Senior Technical Writer?

Look, we get it- you think you can write. You write obnoxiously long messages on birthday cards. You post your away message as “word smithin.” You may even spit some sick rhymes on the weekends. But before you craft your cover letter in iambic pentameter, read a day in Alyssa Jackson’s life… 



What do you do? 


I’m responsible for all of the copy that appears in the Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform, as well as all the help articles and customer communications about the platform. That means error messages, emails to our customers, help docs… if it is the written word, it (mostly) came from me. 


How did you get started? 


I previously worked for a children’s electronics company as an Assistant Product Manager, which mostly involved writing Quick Start Guides for our products. That’s really how I learned to write well for customers - writing for an 8 year old audience will teach you really quickly how to be concise and clear. I was an English major in college, so don’t let anyone tell you that’s a pointless degree! 


What are some writing guidelines you follow?


I try to keep it simple - use as few words as I can, while still giving detail and context. We are working in social media, so I like to keep our tone conversational. We want to sound relaxed and easy-going, because that’s the kind of people our customers are. 


This sounds straightforward, but gets a bit more difficult when you’re trying to explain a very complicated technical idea. In a way, I’m acting as a filter between the engineers and our customers. I do this by breaking complex ideas into smaller chunks, using regular language, and posting lots of screenshots. Business-speak is the devil! At the end of the day, keeping my customer in the front of mind keeps my writing tight.   


What’s the hardest part of your job?


Definitely juggling all of the requests that come in. I’m technically a member of all of the Oracle Social scrum teams, so I get a lot on my plate. 


How do you stay focused?


Noise canceling headphones and Spotify. Peppy music keeps my energy up and my emotions in the “happy customer” place. Currently, I’m listening to "Make You Better" by the Decemberists... and Taylor Swift. <laughs> I’m like an onion, I have many layers. 


What’s your favorite part of your job? 


I really like working directly on the platform and being the customer’s representative. I’m not a coder. I’ve worked on the platform for four years, but I’m still a fairly non-technical person. I’m not afraid to speak up when I think things are confusing. A lot of software companies don’t use technical writers, but at Oracle Social I get to work with the engineers and our creative team directly to design software that is intuitive, so our customers won’t need to go to the help files.


Still think you have what it takes? Apply at Oracle.com/Careers

Wednesday Apr 29, 2015

Social Media Case Study: Head Case Designs


Doug White, CMO, Ecell Global

It’s all fun and games to talk about social marketing strategy, but when push comes to shove, we learn the most from real life experience. We spoke to Douglas White, the CMO of Ecell Global (which owns and operates Head Case Designs) about what works for them in social media marketing.

Who Is Head Case Designs?



They create personalized cases for your mobile device. Founded in 2005 in England, the company has over 350 employees around the world, with a strong presence in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan. According to their website, “Head Case is the global leader in custom mobile case designs, with more than 3 million product offerings shipped to the hippest cats worldwide.”



Up until a year ago, their cases were sold exclusively on eBay and Amazon. They decided they needed to establish a direct-to-consumer selling strategy, and that’s when their social media marketing kicked into high gear.

Social Strategy - Marketing and Selling

Most importantly, Head Case Designs knows their customers. They primarily serve 18-24yr old millennials, with 75% of their customers under the age of 30. They skew female. These people are cool. They’re unique. They don’t want what everyone else has - they want to stand out. They view their phones as an extension of their brand identity.


Building off of that knowledge, Head Case Designs created a brand personality that is “someone you would want to hang out with at a party,” says White. “We’re friendly, jokey. Not too serious.”

Developing their brand identity and tone guided their hiring decisions as well, White adds. They’ve hired three new people who mirror their clientele and have experience cultivating a following in their personal life.

With these fundamentals in place, they’re creating content that is specifically tailored to their customers. White says “we used to post photos of the front and back of cases, but that was not engaging. You’ve got to make sure your products are presented in a way that consumers can relate to it. People need to be able to see themselves using it.” They started posting photos of the phone cases on desks, with jewelry and papers strewn about. This type of content created a new level of customer engagement and support.



Social Strategy - Customer Experience

There’s something special about being able to say “I made that.” Head Case customers are proud of what they have created and they want to share it. Head Case uses the Oracle Social SRM Media Mixer tool to create their “Cool Case Wall” on Facebook. White adds, “It only took 30 minutes for us to set it up. We search #headcase and #headcasedesigns, find the good photos and then add it to the wall. Then we direct message the people who posted it and say, ‘Hey, thanks for posting that great picture of your Head Case, we’ve highlighted it on our Cool Case Wall, go check it out.’ And then they feel closer to the brand.”



Customers also need to know that their concerns are being heard as well. “Social is the place where we need to engage the consumer,” says White. Head Case prioritizes responsiveness on all platforms because they know that “if one customer complains on social, you’ve lost 10,000 customers. Social has shifted the power from the brand to the consumer.”

Best Practices

The first thing White said was, “We’re learning our social strategies every day.” That’s not to say that they’re amateurs; rather, it means that Head Case maintains a “beginner’s mindset” every day. A beginner is unbiased and open to new ideas. They’re creative. They think differently. Keeping a fresh perspective allows you to create fresh and original content, which is what resonates with customers.



Of course, not everything is going to be a winner. Head Case has set up specialized analytics dashboards within Oracle Social’s SRM to analyze what content is doing well on each platform. “We would prefer to grow our fan base slowly and stay engaged,” says White. “Wouldn’t it be better to have a small number [of fans] that is engaged and sees everything you post, than a big number that never hears your message?”

White also mentioned “proactive marketing,” a relatively new strategy that utilizes Oracle’s listening capabilities to capture when a customer is having a problem with a competitor. For example, if someone posts “ugh my case just broke again!” this message would be flagged for Head Case’s team to reach out and say, “Hey, we hear you’re having a problem, how about you try us for a discount?” This strategy also has the added benefits of creating a metric that will show directly how social media drives the bottom line.

Conclusion

“Social marketing is built to break rules and operate quickly,” says White. Check them out on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Google+ to follow their social progress in real time.

Monday Apr 27, 2015

What Does Facebook’s API Change Mean?

By now you’ve probably heard that changes are coming to Facebook’s API. Not to worry though - Oracle Social Cloud’s got you covered. Here’s what’s going on:


What is happening?

Lots of things. In April, Facebook is updating the Newsfeed to reflect user feedback. Under the new changes, you’re more likely to see content that is posted by friends you care about higher up in your news feed. You may see multiple posts from the same source in a row. You will be less likely to see posts about friends liking or commenting on another story.

In October, Facebook is changing the way marketers “listen” to public posts. Right now, with Oracle’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) tool, we can listen to all public posts on Facebook. After the change, 3rd parties will not be able to search Facebook’s public data by keyword any more. Marketers will be able to listen to only the pages they have selected within the SRM.

For clarification:

- Public Facebook Data = what you can see on Facebook without logging in
- Non-Public Facebook Data = anything you must be logged in to Facebook in order to see

Who will this affect?

Both consumers and marketers will be affected by this API change. For consumers, it increases your privacy because 3rd parties (outside of Facebook) won’t be able to capture comments that you make on any given page unless they were specifically listening to that page. For marketers, it means that you have to be smarter about which pages you monitor.

I’m an Oracle SRM customer. How will this affect my company?

Oracle customers will configure the Listen tool in the SRM to capture what people are saying on specific pages.

“This enhancement will allow fine control over the data that flows into the system, and make source restrictions very clear as well as providing certainty in the comprehensiveness of the data that can be expected from this API. In some respects, this provides even more useful capability than the previous API” says John Nolt, Senior Director of Product Management at Oracle Social Cloud.  

Non-public messages will appear in Engage if the page in question is an Owned Channel.

When does it take place?

Oracle’s SRM features are targeted for release in September 2015. In October 2015, Facebook’s current functionality for Public Data will no longer be supported. 

Real Life Example:

Up until October 2015, if brands want to hear what people are saying about Game of Thrones on Facebook, you would be able to hear anything that was publicly posted. So if I, Maggie Schneider Huston, posted on my public page “WOW I can’t believe #GoT!” it would have been captured by our listen capabilities. After the update in October, businesses will only be able to hear my comment if they have selected to monitor my public page.

If you have a personal Facebook page with strong privacy protection and posted “WOW I can’t believe #GoT!” this comment will be captured and aggregated via DataSift’s recent partnership with Facebook. This relationship will allow for aggregation and insight around all topics on Facebook. Oracle is partnered with DataSift in this effort and we look forward to bringing this new capability to our customers as well.

It’s important to remember that these changes will only affect Facebook. Your data from other networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) will not be affected.

Wednesday Apr 22, 2015

So You Think You Can Be A Product Owner?


Let me paint you a picture: Cassie Powell, one of our fearless POs, suggested that I write a “day in the life of” blog for the Social Spotlight. I volunteered her as our first subject, because I really don’t know what she does all day. We set a meeting, and I asked for a rundown of her schedule to help me fill in the blanks. Not only did she provide me a minute-by-minute accounting of her day IN ADVANCE, she also had had her boss approve the schedule that she emailed to me.


Clearly, this lady is on her game.


Cassie Powell, Who Woke Up Like This


So What Do You Do?


Cassie: The best way to describe my job is like this: let’s say you go home and use X’s software. And the software works well, but you really want a button in the software that will produce a dancing unicorn every time you click it. That’s when you call me. I work with our people to give you a dancing unicorn button.


So How Do You Get That Done?


Cassie: Organization is essential. I’m extremely organized. There are lots of things that keep shifting and you can’t let anything fall through the cracks.


Good communication skills are a must: I need to be able to speak with executives to give them updates and also talk to our developers effectively. <laughs> Those groups speak differently, and I’ve got to reach them all.


Finally, I think you need to be able to see the big picture. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds (which is really important, actually) but you also need to see the forest, too. You need to see it all: weeds, trees, and forest.


So What Does an Average Day Look Like?


9:00 - 9:30am - Arrive into office

9:30 - 10:00am - Looking at any new bugs that came in over night. Figure out where they need to go in the queue to be fixed.

10:00 - 10:30am - Write proposal to Creative giving them two options on how we want to display something in the product

10:30 - 11am - Two daily stand ups with my development teams. Figure out how things went over the last 24 hours... if they are on track, if they have any questions for me on things they are working on...

11:00 - 11:30 - Prepare for a presentation I am doing later in the day on a new feature we are going to release soon

11:30 - 12:30 - Team demo. Team shows me everything they have worked on during the last two weeks. I see for the first time a feature that is coming out in a few months. Very exciting! Have some feedback and have some to dos for myself that came out of this meeting. Followup with our doc writer and get some copy approved.

12:30 - 1:00 - Eat while perusing emails

1:00 - 1:30 - Demo our new feature to our internal folks

1:30 - 2:00 - Meeting with my development manager to go over a couple technical tickets that she put in. She explained what was going on and my action item is to write the stories and prioritize in the team's backlog.

2:00 - 3:00 - Release meeting where we go over releases from last week and releases that are coming up in the next few weeks. We update if they are on track and if we have any risk to sort through.

3:00 - 3:30 - Meeting with my Product Manager for one of the teams that I work on. We review the current features that are in the works as well as what is coming up. She gets updates on if everything is on track.

3:30 - 4:00 - Have a meeting with a couple Product team members. We put together a proposal to change something in the product that gives users a better experience.

4:00 - 4:30 - Have a call with another Product team member. He is taking on a new project that I was a part of, and I am giving him a rundown on the backstory as well as where we are now with this project.

4:30 - 5:00 - Head home

5:00 - 6:00 - Answer emails. Do a few action items from meetings today. 


So What Are Some Characteristics of a Good PO?


A good PO is someone that can meld the company vision and the user experience into one. Ultimately, we want to deliver great products AND experiences to the user. Therefore, a good PO needs to be passionate about great products while having empathy for the user. They need to be flexible enough to work with shifting demands but decisive when necessary… which is pretty often. Bottom line, they need to be a “fixer.”



Do you think you have what it takes to be a Product Owner at Oracle Social Cloud? Apply at Oracle.com/Careers





Thursday Apr 16, 2015

9 Ways To Spring Clean Your Social Media



Spring is here! Let’s open up the windows and let the pollen-saturated sunshine in to our social media platforms.


Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Technical Updates:

1. Change your passwords
I know, I know… it stinks. However, it’s the single most important thing you can do to prevent someone from hacking into your accounts. Don’t use the same password across all of your platforms, because if one account is hacked, the others will likely be as well.

2. Clean out your photos and videos
Let’s be real - not every photo is a gem. Perhaps it looked great at the time it was posted, but now… it’s not exactly the best representation of your brand. Make sure the most recent photos and videos are in line with your content strategy.


Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Organize your followers
You know that annoying person who always posts the same stuff? Get rid of them. While you’re doing this, create Twitter lists to organize your influencers, team members, competitors, and listen to industry-oriented news. These lists will help you catch important posts that may otherwise be lost in the shuffle of your feed.



4. Makeover your image
This is the fun part! Change your cover photos, update your contact and biographical information, and ensure that your profile pictures are consistent. Get creative and use eye-catching images.

Strategy Updates:

1. Analyze your customers
This is a critical step. If you don’t know who you are talking to, you don’t know what they will need. Look at the profiles of your customers on all platforms. How old are they? Where do they live? What time of day are they usually on your network? What do they like to talk about? Who else do they follow? It may be helpful to draft a “persona” of your customer(s) to keep your audience top of mind.

2. Dive deep into your analytics

This is technically something you should be doing daily (or at the very least, weekly) but it is helpful to look back over a long period of time to determine what types of content are succeeding with your readers. What topics have earned a lot of engagement? What types of content (blogs, video, images, or links to third party material) are being shared the most? What time do posts perform best? Who are your most engaged users?

At the same time, it’s also extremely important to look at your worst-performing posts. I know it hurts, but you have to understand what made them fail. More times than not, our greatest successes come from our failures.

3. Set Goals and Metrics for your KPIs

Once you have determined who your audience is and what kind of content they like, set reasonable and measurable goals. As tempting as it may be, try to think beyond “I want to get over 1 million “likes” on Facebook.” Your social goals should be aligned with your broader business goals. A better goal would be “I will increase brand awareness by creating posts that average over 3% engagement across all platforms.”

4. Get your employees engaged
One of the most frequently overlooked marketing assets is sitting right next to you - your fellow employees. Tag them on relevant posts, promote their content, or ask them to get engaged!


Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5. Build a content calendar
You’ve got a lot of information at your fingertips - who you’re talking to, what they want, and when they want that content - so stay organized with a content calendar. Plan blog posts as far in advance as possible. Don’t forget about content that your coworkers create, too. It’s a great engagement tactic. Schedule posts using a tool like Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM. The volume of information thrown at social media managers is extraordinary; don’t let something fall through the cracks by being disorganized.

That’s it! Not too painful, right?


Monday Apr 13, 2015

Behind the Data: Jordan Spieth Wins Social Media, Too

Jordan Spieth’s outstanding performance at the Masters tournament last weekend was echoed by his performance on social media.

Photo: Facebook.com/JordanSpiethGolf

Using the Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM tool, we listened to the social chatter across the internet and discovered these results: 


Everyone Loves a Winner

No surprise here… the top themes that surfaced when discussing Jordan Spieth were about winning. Spieth tied Tiger Woods’ record for youngest age of winning the Masters.


He’s Popular With the Dudes


Especially American dudes. Across the board, men were talking about the top golfers 3-to-1.



News Organizations Ate Him Up

The top influencers who were talking about Spieth were news organizations.

Check us out on these platforms for more fun, curated content like this!

Facebook.com/OracleSocial
Twitter.com/OracleSocial
Pinterest.com/OracleSocial
Instagram.com/OracleSocial
Vine: @Oracle Social Cloud
LinkedIn: Oracle Social

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Thursday Apr 09, 2015

3 Most Important Takeaways from #OracleCX15

We came, we saw, and now we're putting it in action. Here's the scoop:


1. Be Useful

Nobody wants to be un-helpful, right? (We’re not talking about doing the dishes… that’s different.) But as marketers, we need to be USEFUL to our customers. This was the predominant theme throughout the conference. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd’s keynote emphasized how businesses need to be “customer-obsessed” and focused on making the lives of customers easier.



Jay Baer echoed this sentiment with his keynote around #Youtility. It’s pretty simple, actually.



Baer says if you build hype, you earn a customer for a day. If you help a customer, they’ll stay with you for life.

Action: For content managers, create and curate content that you think will help your customers perform better. It sounds easy, but it’s surprisingly difficult because you have to understand the “pain points” of your customer before you can help them. So… get to know your customers and what’s making their lives difficult. Create helpful content.

For CMOs, assess and build customer experience into every touch point of your business. Whether it’s creating marketing that helps a customer succeed, building a smooth user experience that makes work easier for customers, or producing social content that educates your customer, you need to ask yourself “Am I helping my customer?” regularly.   


2. What “datum” means

What is datum? It’s not a made up word, I promise. It’s the singular form of the word “data.” It also happened to show up in our word cloud when we were looking at themes of the conference. Nestled alongside expected terms like “marketing,” “booth” and “team” was “datum.”



What does that mean? We’re nerds. If it was ever in doubt, it isn’t anymore. Marketers who attended the conference were talking about analytics, b2b campaigns, and digestible data.

Action: Make it a habit to look at your analytics data. Every day, if possible. Get comfortable with your data, and use it to create more informed content.

3. Socks do more than keep your feet warm

Thanks to Oracle Social's VP of Product Management Erika Brookes, we have photographic proof of the intensity with which marketers choose their socks. Boring black dress socks? Nope. Stylish prints and stripes were the rage at #ModernCX15 conferences.



Not only was there a plethora of funky toe snuggies on physical display at the conference, there was also a conversation online about the cool socks. It was documented in our Social Intelligence Center:




What does that mean? Marketers are creative people who pay attention to detail. If you’re going to be communicating with them, you need to speak their language and look the part.

Action: Style matters. Keeping up with the trends shows that you’re engaged in the modern world and able to adapt to fast paced changes. In social media, this is even more important. Creativity in design and expression allows you to stand out amongst the crowd and brand yourself as something different. Just not too different.


Friday Apr 03, 2015

#OracleCX15 by the Numbers

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thursday was the final day of the Modern Customer Experience Conferences, which dissected how sales, marketing, commerce and the service sectors can benefit from improved customer experiences. There were executives (Oracle CEO Mark Hurd and SVP Kevin Akeryod), thought leaders (Daniel Pink), celebrities (James Franco), musicians (One Republic), and mermaids.

Just kidding! No mermaids. #AprilFools

Here’s what we learned - powered by Oracle Social Cloud’s Social Relationship Management (SRM):

WHO was talking?


The conference skewed slightly male and was primarily American.



WHAT were they talking about?

On Tuesday, the conversation primarily revolved around Oracle CEO Mark Hurd’s keynote.



By Wednesday, however, the volume of content increased dramatically and was circling around ideas.  





WHEN did they communicate? WHICH platforms did they use?


The vast majority of the conversation about #OracleCX15 and #MME15 took place on microblogs, such as twitter.



WHY are they talking?

One of the really cool things about the SRM is it can tell you what people are “feeling” about your event. By and large, they were very pleased with the conference.




As you can see, it was a pretty cool conference - even if we didn’t have mermaids.




Friday Mar 27, 2015

Back in Black: More Analytics Wisdom from Oracle’s Lisa Black

We all know big data can be intimidating - but sometimes the analysis of big data is even scarier. Today’s Influencer is Lisa Black, Oracle Social Cloud Product Manager and an expert in analytics. We spoke with Lisa last year and in light of the rapidly changing social sphere, we asked her back for more. As we said before, “When you have someone who actually gets this excited about analytics, good things keep getting added to that part of the product.” Now let’s get cracking!


Lisa Black, Manager, Oracle Social Cloud Product Management
Twitter: @lisajanetblack
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ljblack


Engagement v. Audience Size: Which is More Important?

As I think about what makes me an analyst at heart, it’s definitely not drowning in meaningless data. Or as I like to say, the “so what” metrics. It’s really about making it easier to make better decisions. According to Gartner: “Through 2017, the number of citizen data scientists will grow five times faster than the number of highly skilled data scientists.” After all, business analytics and all of today’s synonymous buzzwords were once upon a time summed up by the words “decision support,” as in a system to support decision making.

You may already be wondering what this has to do with engagement and audience size. Everything, that’s what.


Engage, engage, engage.


Engagement matters more.  

Let’s say I have an audience of 1000 people, but only 1 person ever engages with me. For simplicity sake, let’s call this 0.1% engagement (1 person who engages with me / 1000 total audience size).

On the other hand, if you have an audience of 100 from which 50 people engage with you on a regular basis, that’s 50% engagement (50 / 100).

Which is better? The much higher engagement rate! It is more valuable to me than the absolute value audience size, because engaged users are advocates for your brand and will likely purchase your product. Disengaged users are just filler.

The Cost of a Growing Audience

Put this example aside for a minute, and let’s take a look at another type of comparison.

At the beginning of the week, I had 1,000 people in my audience. Today I have 1,001. That’s a 0.1% increase [(1,001 today – 1,000 start of week) / 1,000 start of week]. In comparison, you started the week with 100 people in your audience, and today you have 150. That’s a 50% increase.

Still with me? Good, because here’s where it gets really interesting.

In both cases (you and I), each new audience member costs $1 to acquire, and a 1% increase in engagement generates a $100 increase in revenue.
·  I spent $1, earned $10, net $9
·  You spent $50, earned $5,000, net $4,950

Being you is looking pretty good!


Why yes, it is good to be me.


It’s a mystery to me why so many people trying to measure social marketing react as if “OMG the sky is falling” if an audience of 10,000 drops by 10 people.

I want to make better decisions when I measure social marketing, so I’m going to rely on ratios. Using the Oracle Social Cloud, you can too:



Oh, and did you notice that with the above dashboard I can easily analyze two different social networks side by side? Yeah, that’s also pretty valuable in supporting better decisions.

Takeaways

- Look at percentages, not raw numbers, of your engagement and user growth.

- Use a sophisticated analytics tool, like the SRM, to study your results closely to determine what types of content are yielding the best results

- Ignore the “so what” metrics.

Oh yes, and your social metrics better align with your overall business objectives. But that's for another blog all together.


Wednesday Mar 25, 2015

ICYMI: DaaS for Customer Intelligence Update

In case you missed it amongst the hubbub of SXSW, Oracle Data Cloud announced a new Data as a Service (DaaS) update last week that leverages Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM technology to help marketers listen to unstructured data, such as surveys, chat rooms, forums, and comment sections. You can find the official press release here and a recent article from CRM magazine here.


Unstructured data is a tremendous resource for marketers to identify customer issues, intent, trends, and brand sentiment. David Schubmehl, Research Director at IDC says, “unstructured text and data is an increasingly challenging area for organizations to tackle, but has the potential to unlock the most competitive insights.” Omar Tawakol, Group Vice President and General Manager adds, “knowing more about your customers and prospects - what they do, say and buy - is key to driving competitive business insights and actions.”

Oracle’s SRM tool lends its capabilities to power these insights. Latent sentiment analysis, coupled with keyword and NLP, accurate categorization and big data scalability, marketers can understand what is going on with their brands faster and more efficiently than using standalone technology. Independent testing verified 95% accuracy in understanding content across 40 million websites.

This Enriched Social Data Feed solution is offered as a standalone data service through Oracle Data Cloud and is also a capability of Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM. 

Tuesday Mar 24, 2015

Beyond Design: Looking Holistically at User Experience

"User experience” is a hot buzzword in social marketing… but what does that really mean? As part of the Social Spotlight's Influencer series, we spoke with Horace Williams, Director of User Experience Design at Oracle Social Cloud to help us understand how user experience affects the bottom line.


Horace Williams, Director of User Experience Design at Oracle Social Cloud

Social Spotlight: How would you describe user experience?

Horace Williams: I recently heard a great metaphor to describe this: the dining out experience. When you go out to eat, you’re not judging the restaurant solely on the food. You’re judging the restaurant on ambiance, friendliness of the staff, noise level, food, cleanliness, etc. All of that comes together to create your experience and thus, your judgment of the restaurant. It’s the same with software. User experience is not just about how the interface looks, it is the whole experience of using the product. We have to make sure the experience of our application makes our customer’s lives easier. It’s not just “look” and “feel.” Across the board, at every touch point, we want the customer to be happy with the performance, look, service, and stability of the product.

That sounds like you would have to get a lot of people to reorganize their thinking. How do you make that happen?

HW: It starts at the top. Thomas Kurian just discussed the importance of user experience in a recent video. If UX is not tied to the executive vision, then it makes it difficult to build an experience-focused company culture. At Oracle Social Cloud, everybody has some component of user experience for which they’re accountable. We’re all responsible for making sure our Social Relationship Management (SRM) tool improves and simplifies your workflow, in turn making you more efficient at your job. Bottom line: we want you to get promoted because you’re using SRM.

Another mindset that needs to change is the separation of “employees” and “people.”  Businesses tend to isolate them, when in fact, we know that’s not the case - employees are people who have preferences that they carry with them between their job and personal life. For example, if the need arises to cater a lunch, I’ll likely choose my favorite restaurant. I’ve eaten there in my personal life, so I know it will work in my business life as well. It’s the same with software - if we get that internal buy in, our customers become our biggest advocates. How do we get that? Creating a beautiful user experience that meets the high standards set by the consumer apps they choose to use in their personal lives.

Looking forward - what is the future of user experience?


HW: 1. Scale. We don’t know what the future will hold, but we do know that the SRM we build will need to adapt to those changes. We’re building for the long term, and that means creating an experience on a framework that facilitates growth while allowing for quick adaption to the evolving Social Management / Customer Experience space and technology advances in general. UX is everywhere: laptops, large screens, smart phones, watches, cars, etc. Scale is also about building an experience foundation that can continually adapt to the environment that needs to facilitate it.  

2. Smart. UX is about being predictive, not just reactive. We need to know what our users want to do before they do it. How? Data. At this moment, we are still in the early stages of the “big data” revolution, which will lead to many different (known and unknown) ways to create value for our customers. We need to incorporate data into the UX to help our customers create the best strategy and build the best content.

3. Co-Creation. Traditional User-Centered Design practices should be a cornerstone of every solid User Experience process. Co-creation is taking it a step further and making it about more than just designing with the end-user in mind, it’s about bringing them along for the ride! I started to see the implementation of this process a few years ago, and now it’s really starting to pick up steam, and rightfully so. It’s about building a real collaboration process between those who will use a product and those who were once solely responsible for building it. The byproduct of this union should ultimately produce a product experience, designed in collaboration with our customers, that should without a doubt facilitate the specialized needs of those same customers.

This trend, however, doesn’t come without controversy. I had a marketing professor in my college days named Dr. Nkonge who preached a simple philosophy that became a mainstay throughout my UX career. “The customer is not always right, but they should ALWAYS be listened to." Though a pretty typical mindset in business practices, this philosophy very much adheres to standard UX principals. Co-creation tip-toes a thin line here, especially when there is a hesitance by some to have customers to prescribe specific UX direction. However, customers are people, and today, more than ever, people are interacting with a wide array of both consumer and enterprise applications with an overwhelming amount of varying experiences to choose from. Because of this, our customers are becoming increasingly more aware of the types of experiences they prefer to use, but more importantly, they are also gaining objective insight and understanding of what types of experiences improve their productivity and elevate their efficiency. A co-creation process executed correctly will integrate experienced, proven UX expertise and with objective customer insight and preference, resulting in not only an valuable experience for the end-user, but also satisfied customers who now genuinely feel like their suggestions have been heard, and more importantly, implemented.


Sunday Mar 15, 2015

SXSW by the Numbers: Days 1 and 2

Pretty much anyone can tell you how many people came to the South by Southwest festival in Austin and how many tweets were generated by the hashtags #SXSW and #SXSW15.

But we want to know more. We want to know what the biggest “themes” of the conference are, who the major influencers are, and have the data to back it up. Oracle Social Cloud’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) tool can do all of that. Here are some fascinating insights from the first two days of #SXSW:



This is what people were talking about when they mentioned #SXSW. As you can see, it appears that quite a few people were looking forward to their evening plans.


Unsurprisingly, most people who were talking about #SXSW were from the United States. 97% of content came from microblogs, such as Twitter.



These are the biggest names posting about #SXSW. This is helpful insights for brands who are looking to target one of these influencers to gain traction on their products.

A perfect example of this is from NBC Sports, who used the SRM during their Superbowl coverage. On Friday morning they held a session discussing content. This is what surfaced as themes for their session.



And these were the biggest names who were speaking about NBC Sports. 


Saturday was the start of the Accelerator, a competition amongst start-ups for a $1 million prize. As strong supporters of innovation, Oracle is a sponsor this year. These are some of the themes around the Accelerator.


Fascinating, isn’t it? This is the depth of listening that the SRM provides for our customers.

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