Tuesday Sep 15, 2015

Hug Your Haters: A Conversation About Social Customer Service With Jay Baer

As part of September’s Social + Service month, Oracle’s Maggie Schneider Huston spoke with Jay Baer, New York Times and Amazon best-selling author and CEO of Convince & Convert, about how social customer service will change the future of business.

Maggie Schneider Huston: Let’s start from the beginning. How would you explain social + service to an 80 year old, non-techie person? 

Jay Baer: When people needed customer service, they used to send a letter or pick up the phone. Now, people use social media to get the attention of the company. It’s faster and easier to do. Nobody wants to wait on hold. Nobody likes smooth jazz.

MSH: <laughs> True. The use case for a B2C company is obvious - you just explained it - but why is social service important for B2B companies?

JB: It doesn’t matter whether you’re B2B or B2C, you need to interact with your customers where they want to meet you. Your customers are not just B2B customers - they’re also B2C customers in other parts of their life. And those companies are some of the best in the world at social service. B2C companies are setting the expectation that any brand - whether it’s B2B or B2C - will have the same reaction to their needs. So when your customer approaches you on social media for support , you should be ready.

MSH: So what does that look like? How will a company know if they’re doing social service well?

JB: Answer every customer, in every channel, every time. You answer every phone call and email, don’t you? A lack of response is a response - it’s a response that says we don’t care what you think.

MSH: Ok, I hear that, but I’ve seen some pretty… inappropriate… comments on our posts. How should you handle that?

JB: You should have conduct policies posted on your “about” page, so if someone says something vulgar, you can delete the comment and ban the person. If you don’t have public policies, then it seems like you’re suppressing dissent. You should explain to the community why you deleted the post. Transparency and honesty go a long way. If you’ve built a strong brand, your customers will rise to your defense and your fans will keep others in line.

MSH: Ah, so this is why your book is called “Hug Your Haters” ?

JB: Exactly. Basically there are two kinds of haters: “Off-stage” haters, who complain in a private way, and “On-stage” haters, who complain publicly on social media. The expectations of these two groups are totally different. 90% of off-stage haters expect a response. However, only 48% of on-stage haters expect an answer. When you do provide a response on social, the impact on customer advocacy is incredible. On-stage haters have low expectations but will advocate for you if you’re responsive.

Haters are not your problem - ignoring them is. If you ignore someone who is already mad, you’re just giving them another excuse to be mad. Many of the people who complain in public have already complained off stage. They’re unhappy with your response, so they raise the stakes and take it public. When you ignore those people, you’re ignoring someone who is angry, twice. That’s really dangerous.

"The FREE HUGS robot says 'I am here for you'" Ben Husmann, 2010 CC-BY Flickr; Wylio

MSH: Building off of that… do you think companies are successfully capturing and integrating social data to build out complete customer profiles? Speaking plainly, are we using the information we get from our haters? 

JB: No. People tend to see social customer service as another way to make customers happy, but it’s more than that. Customer feedback is the petri dish for operational improvements. They’re taking their time to tell you how to make your business better. Businesses should mine that and build it back into their product. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t happen often because historically customer service has been a separate thing. The people who are complaining are the unelected representatives of a whole bunch of other people. Only 5% of unhappy customers complain. So if someone is raising their hand, you should listen.

MSH: I’ve heard people say customer service is the “new marketing.” What are your thoughts on that?

JB: I agree 100%. Essentially, every competitor can match you on everything else - capabilities, price, etc - but they can’t match you on customer experience.

To pre-order Jay’s book, “Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers” click here. You can also read his blog, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his podcast.

Friday Sep 11, 2015

Is It Possible To Be Mindful On Social Media?

As part of September’s Social + Service month, we discussed incorporating mindfulness into social customer service with Oracle’s Senior Content Manager, Maggie Schneider Huston. 

Oracle Social: At first glance, mindfulness and social media seem like they would be completely incompatible. Have you found that to be true?

Maggie Schneider Huston: Yes and no. Being mindful - taking time to focus on one thing at a time and really appreciate it - is definitely not easy. It’s even more difficult when you’re bombarded by information at every turn. At any given moment during my workday, people are talking to me through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, email, IM, two cell phones, and in person. I’m also monitoring news feeds and trending topics. That’s just the nature of the beast. Staying focused on one thing and doing it conscientiously is extremely difficult.

However, that’s not to say that it’s not important. Studies have shown that mindfulness will reduce stress, rumination, and reactivity while increasing focus, cognitive flexibility and relationship satisfaction. Who doesn’t want that? And what business wouldn’t want that for their employees?

OS: So how do you do it?

MSH: Very carefully. <laughs> Actually, that’s the truth. I try to meditate in my personal life, but it’s really hard. At work, I find that isolating myself in a quiet space helps me produce better content. We live in a world that demands multitasking… but really rewards focus.

OS: How does mindfulness affect social customer service?

MSH: Immensely. Let me give you an example: recently, someone posted a negative comment on one of our blogs. My initial reaction was anger. I was hurt and confused by their comment. (It wasn’t the most well-written nastygram, so I had to look it up online.) But then I took a breath. And I remembered that haters are gonna hate. So I was able to let it go.

Another example: several people reach out to us asking about how to get jobs at Oracle. I always respond to these inquiries, because I can empathize with them. I know what it’s like to be looking for a job, and if I can help, I will.

Ok, last example, I promise: occasionally, our customers will reach out to us with a tech question. I don’t always know the answer, but I always figure it out for them. I think that having a personal touch point for your customers is extremely important. When they get the help that they need in a timely fashion, they’ll be loyal down the road.

Mindfulness is at the heart of all of these responses. Empathy, responsiveness, and compassion create the space for a positive, relationship-building action.

OS: That sounds very … how should I put it … ethereal. <laughs> Can you bring it down to earth?

MSH: Ha! Absolutely. Mindfulness in social media is possible, but it takes the right conditions and a lot of practice. Eliminate distractions and slow down. Don’t take on more than you can chew. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, your customers will suffer. Most importantly - put yourself in your customer’s shoes and respond accordingly. And when in doubt, remember the saying: “What happens on social media, stays on Google forever.” 

Wednesday Sep 09, 2015

10 Tips To Rock Social Media

Today's post was written by Meghan Fritz, Communications Manager of Oracle's Worldwide Alliances & Channels.  

Whether you’ve been a community manager for years or are creating your first Twitter account, we present you a foolproof list of social media best practices to keep handy. 

1. Proofread! Spelling errors are awful. Check your punctuation. There’s no excuse for sloppy writing.

2. Think visually: Got photos, videos, gifs, or infographics? Use them. Visual posts perform better than text-based posts.

3. Check hashtags: Some of them don’t mean what you think they do.

4. Stay on-message: Don’t jump on trending bandwagons just for the sake of it – make sure your social media posts stay true to your brand.

5. When in doubt, don’t post: If there’s ever a question about the appropriateness of a post, don’t do it.

6. Don’t engage in negativity: Haters are going to hate. Let them. Don’t feed the trolls.

7. Respond promptly: If someone has taken the time to reach out to you, respond ASAP. Industry standard response time is less than an hour.

8. Identify yourself: This is as simple as adding, “Opinions are my own” to your profile. This means that your opinions do not represent your company’s opinions and you are not an official spokesperson. Know your company’s social media policy.

9. Update your profile: Profiles are easily neglected. Take the time to update your photo, contact information and interests.

10. Commit to social media education: Social media is constantly evolving. The best way to stay informed is to stay active on social media; you will absorb the latest trends through observation and participation.

Once you’ve gotten these down, take a good look at your social accounts and ditch the dead weight. Why get rid of an account, you ask? Well, because they only thing worse than not having a Twitter or Facebook page is having one you seldom update.

Social media etiquette and best practices are critical workplace skills in the 21st century. An exceptional social media manager observes others, communicates effectively, and tells stories creatively. We hope these tips have helped you!


The Oracle PartnerNetwork Communications team





Thursday Sep 03, 2015

How Do You Motivate The Unmotivated?

As part of August’s Employee Advocacy (EA) month, Oracle Social Cloud’s Senior Content Manager Maggie Schneider Huston spoke with Jason Seiden, CEO of Brand Amper, about how to jump start EA.  

Maggie Schneider Huston: We’ve done a lot this month on EA, but one theme keeps resurfacing: the disengaged employee. The one who may participate on social media, but won’t touch anything that smells of employee advocacy. How do you motivate the unmotivated? 

Jason Seiden: You don’t. 

MSH: *laughs* Well, then, what do you do? 

JS: The problem with “employee advocacy” starts with the name. It’s a semantic issue that sets up false expectations. The immediate assumption is that I can ask - or make - my employees be advocates. Your employees already have a vested interest in making sure your company is successful, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be advocates. 

You have to give them a reason to be advocates. The question is not, “How do we motivate them?” The question is, “What reason have we given our employees to be our advocates?” 

You have to give them something. You have to show them that helping the company also helps themselves. 

Most importantly, you need to remember that you hired them for a reason and let them be themselves. 

MSH: That sounds like you’re entering dangerous territory. What if an employee says something that gets them fired? Or bad-mouths the company? 

JS: When fear is driving, it’s not going to work.

MSH: What do you mean? 

JS: You have to look at the whole process of engaging employees in a fundamentally new way. The way in which you communicate signals your intent. Fear-based processes are typically top-down, heavy-handed, and full of “legalese.” This shows that you don’t really trust employees and don’t really want advocates - you just want to extend your PR message into their networks. The process actually causes people to check out.

You have to create a process that lets employees feel good about representing themselves - and thus, the company - well. 

MSH: How do you do that? 

JS: Here’s a good example. Company XYZ is a professional services firm with a lot of female employees, but they weren’t well represented publicly. The message we sent to their women’s group was, “We want to help you put your best foot forward and give you some professional development.” About half of them accepted our offer, went through the training process and started to use our tool. Of those who completed the course, about 50 women indicated that they wanted to share company content with their personal networks. So right there they identified women who wanted to be involved. In addition, many of the personal stories written by the women helped the company understand what employees truly cared about so they could make sure their message spread more organically.  

A big part of why this approach works is because it’s not gamed. The temptation to “buy” advocates is very strong - but it’s not a real solution. You don’t learn what’s real. As soon as the incentives go away, so do the posts. We focus on identity instead. People are less willing to game their identity. If they pull the brand into their social identities, that’s a more trustable indicator of what’s working.

MSH: This sounds great… but what if an employee goes hog wild? Won’t their actions reflect on the brand? 

JS: First of all, most employees won’t do that because they have a vested interest in making their company look good. They want to attract good coworkers. They want to be recognized. Even if they hate their job, they still want their next employer to respect their current employer. So it doesn’t matter if they’re motivated to be advocates, they’re motivated to take care of themselves. 

What’s nice about an employee-centric approach is that if an employee does go rogue, you can address it surgically rather than with all staff emails that no one reads. Also, it gives you a chance to build up positive chatter so that one employee can’t sink the whole ship, because the voice of employee is still overwhelmingly positive. That’s why you’re better off letting your employees run. When you’ve only got a few voices speaking on behalf of the company, the risk of a single representative going rogue is significant.  When everyone’s speaking, then the chorus of voices is stronger than any one individual.

MSH: What’s the takeaway? 

JS: Embrace the idea of individuals driving your brand. Social media stripped the company of its power over individual voices. Enable your employees to be their best, and your company will benefit. 

Tuesday Sep 01, 2015

4 Fatal Mistakes When Launching An Employee Advocacy Program

As part of Employee Advocacy (EA) month, Oracle Social Cloud’s Senior Content Manager Maggie Schneider Huston spoke with Trapit CEO Hank Nothhaft, Jr.

Maggie Schneider Huston: I’m going to get right down to it - what’s the worst thing you can do when launching an EA program?

Hank Nothhaft, Jr: *laughs* Well, there are a few. The first fatal mistake that companies make is what I call the “set it and forget it” approach. You can’t just buy the software and do some fanfare at the beginning; you really need to engage with employees routinely and consistently. That means giving them feedback on what’s working, what’s not, tips and tricks, best practices, etc. You need to make a commitment to support the program.

The second major mistake is not providing enough content for your employees. Content is the essential fuel of advocacy. You’re not creating a bot army. You don’t want your employees to recycle the same post over and over; you want them to have an authentic presence and a real reputation.

Having a content strategy is absolutely essential to creating a successful EA program. One of our clients has a “7-3” rule; they hope for each employee to post 7 pieces of curated content for every 3 pieces of brand messaging. The curated content needs to be appropriate to your brand and add value to a would-be buyer or prospective hire. This is why having a large pool of content for your employees to choose from is essential. For your employees to maintain a strong social presence, they need to post 8-12 times per day. This gets very difficult if they only have press releases and white papers to share.

MSH: That’s all fun and games for “cool” brands - but what if you have a nerdy, obscure brand?

HN: The vast majority of brands aren’t “cool,” but that doesn’t mean that they’re not important. Sponsors of the program need to find the right venue for your employees. Whether it’s a specific LinkedIn group or a unique hashtag, there’s a niche space for your product.

Also, just becomes your brand is boring, doesn’t mean your content has to be boring. Having a sense of humor about yourself can go a long way.

MSH: That’s true, but there’s a delicate balance between maintaining a “professional appearance” and appearing cold. How should companies walk the line?

HN: It’s really up to the people who are driving the program to set the guidelines. There’s a fine line there, for sure. You don’t want to be too controlling. In fact, we advise against exerting too much control. It’s better to have a living social media policy, where there’s an ongoing dialogue about what’s appropriate. Ultimately, though the benefits of humanizing your brand outweigh the risk. You have to trust your employees to have good taste.

In fact, that’s the one of the other fatal mistakes that companies make when launching EA programs. Fundamentally, your EA program is voluntary. If you take a very rigid approach, you risk stifling creativity and authenticity. Employees shouldn’t look like they’re all posting the same content. Rigidity can kill an EA program before it starts.

MSH: Without structure, though, how will you know if an EA program is successful?

HN: You have to set goals before launching an EA program. A lot of times, employees are excited about sharing content, but they don’t know what to share and they don’t know what success looks like.

In the early stages of an EA program, we’re looking at participation rates. Are the employees you’ve invited to the program actually participating? We want to engage a large number of employees.

Once you’ve passed that hurdle, we start looking at basic engagement metrics: clicks, likes, retweets, favorites, reach, etc. These numbers are good indicators of your content strategy. We’re trying to determine if your audience cares about what your employees are saying.

Finally, we reach what I like to call “ROI nirvana.” This means moving beyond likes and into actual leads. At this stage, you’ve connected the dots between EA content and generating sales leads, and ultimately revenue. A Fortune 50 client of ours reached ROI nirvana in several months, but sometimes this can take longer. It varies.

MSH: What’s the takeaway from all of this?

HN: There are 4 killers of an EA program: disengagement, lack of content, rigidity, and unclear goals. If you address those issues before you launch, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Thursday Aug 27, 2015

Tumblr Joins Expanding Lineup of Social Properties Supported by Oracle Social’s SRM Platform

Big news: Tumblr is joining Oracle Social’s SRM Platform! 

Tumblr is much more than your average micro-blogging site. In today's image-focused, socially driven environment, Tumblr is gaining in importance with brands. As our partner NBC Sports noted in AdWeek, "Tumblr is a visually rich, social-friendly platform" that they found a "perfect" place for SuperBowl content. According to Tumblr, there are 251.8 million blogs publishing 80 million posts in 16 different languages PER DAY on Tumblr. Unlike other social media websites, you aren’t limited by the format of your content; you can post text, photos, links, music, or videos to your blog. By integrating Tumblr into Oracle Social’s SRM, our customers have a tremendous opportunity to expand their brands into new markets and engage with customers in new ways, all through one platform.

What This Means

Publish: You will be able to add and manage Tumblr accounts from the same page as your other social media channels.

You’ll be able to create posts in the same manner as any other social network. This will make your social media manager’s life better, as it will be easier to create consistent posts across your social profiles.

Analyze: You’ll also be able to analyze your content to determine how well it is performing - not just on the Tumblr site, but compared to your other social media platforms as well.

For example, if you decided to run a “Summer Fun” social media campaign across your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Tumblr accounts, you can monitor the performance of those posts using the SRM.

This unique capability will allow you to see the entire picture of your social media campaigns - not just your performance on individual posts.

Although we have that too.

With the addition of Tumblr to the SRM lineup, Oracle Social Cloud now supports eight social platforms (with more coming soon): Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Youtube, Weibo, and Tumblr. According to eMarketer, by the end of 2015, almost 1/3 of the global population will be using a social media website regularly - and the SRM will make it easier for you to reach these people through one integrated platform.

For more information on how to add Tumblr to your account, click here.

Friday Aug 21, 2015

Five Lessons Learned at the CRM Evolution

1. Customer Service is the New Marketing

We didn’t coin this phrase, but we certainly believe it. Traditional “customer service” has evolved beyond resolving issues; now, customer service builds brand loyalty. The engine behind this change is social media. As people turn to social media for customer service related questions, Oracle is leading the industry with innovative social service capabilities. We recently announced our expanded partnership with Twitter for enriched insights to create next-generation social service solutions, as well as our recent integrations and enhancements between the Oracle Social Cloud and Service Cloud. You can read more about that in Forbes.

2. Customer Engagement & Customer Experience Are Different

Customer Experience, aka #CX, is one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing. According to Gartner, by 2016, 89% of companies will be competing almost entirely on customer experience. Not price. Not product. Customer experience. That’s transformational. But “Customer Engagement” is not interchangeable with “Customer Experience”. Of course, customer engagements are the vital piece of delivering on the promise of relevant and satisfying customer experiences… but they are different by definition. Paul Greenberg breaks this down in a great article in ZDNet. We highly recommend you read it.

3. Digital Disruption is More than Technology

Businesses are still falling way short. Think about this: 52% of Fortune 500 firms since 2000 are gone. The transformation to a digital business requires a deep cultural and operational change in mindset and process. You can’t just throw technology at it. As Ray Wang said, “Digital disruption is more than just a technology shift. It’s all about transforming business models and how we engage.” So true. We could do an entire blog, a book even, on the subject of digital disruption, but Ray has got that covered so read more about his book and insights on digital disruption on his Constellation blog.

4. IoT Holds Promise for CRM

It wouldn’t be a technology conference without talking about #IoT. But the Internet of Things holds great promises for understanding, personalizing and engaging better with customers. Cisco estimates that 50 billion devices and objects will be connected to the Internet by 2020. And all those connections can reveal insights that drive highly personalized and even predictive customer experiences. Leveraging IoT data into CRM operations can elevate a brand’s ability to deliver incredibly rewarding and valuable customer engagements. The Internet of Things, however, lacks common or unified standards—think devices, privacy and security—so mainstream adoption will be slow… but it is coming.

5. CRM Evolution Full of #Influence

As usual, CRM Evolution delivered on quality content and excellent insights, thanks to the bevy of influencers the event attracts. With a lineup like this our brains were on overdrive: @mkrigsman @BrentLeary @pgreenbe @rwang0 @ValaAfshar @BrianVellmure @kateleggett @DenisPombriant @mfauscette @Lager. We recommend you follow these folks on Twitter. They are some of the top #influencers in the industry.

Wednesday Aug 19, 2015

Using Employee Advocacy Tools to Communicate to Millennials

As part of August’s Employee Advocacy (EA) month, Oracle Social’s Senior Content Manager Maggie Schneider Huston spoke with Russ Fradin, CEO of Dynamic Signal,* about how to build your team through EA tools.  

Maggie Schneider Huston: So let’s start with the basics. How do you convince CEOs that they need an EA tool? 

Russ Fradin: It hasn’t been that hard. They really spend a lot of time thinking about their employees, and EA is an extension of that relationship. Every CEO understands that their employees are their best assets, as well as their best advocates. 

MSH: What about skeptical employees? How do you convince people who say “I want to keep my business and personal lives separate” to use an EA tool? 

RF: As long as people have had jobs, there has been a mixing of personal and professional life. If you look back to your father or grandfather’s time, they were talking to other people about their jobs and companies. Now, with the advent of social media, it has become broader and more prevalent. The barriers to insight into a company are more porous. 

I don’t believe that people don’t talk about their jobs. If they like their friends and they like their job, they’ll boast about it. They might share a job listing or the launch of the product they’re working on. Granted, some people won’t be on social media at all. Others only use it to look at pictures of their grandchildren. But for those who are on social media - it’s an incredible opportunity. 

If you say, “Would you be interested in sharing corporate content?” many people will refuse. If, however, you say, “Here’s this tool that will help you build your brand, sell more, and is easy to use” you’re much more likely to get people involved. As long as companies view this as partnership with their employees, and make it easy for employees to share content, the EA program will be successful. 

MSH: What other benefits have you seen from EA programs? 

RF: We initially thought of EA as a marketing tool, but it has become a giant success on the internal communication side. Millennials are taking over the workforce. Many of them have had mobile phones and social media for their entire careers. We realized if we don’t do a better job of communicating with our employees - where they can share it easily and quickly - we’re failing as a company. 

Millennials don’t like email or intranet. They want information in quick and easily digestible chunks on their smartphones. If you curate great content for them to share (and make it easy for them to do it) then you’ll reach them more effectively. Essentially, it turns each employee’s mobile phone into a hub of interesting things at your company.

I think this is going to be a very big issue in the future. The partnership between employees and companies, when intersected with mobile and social natives who you need to communicate effectively with… I think it’s going to be the fabric of running a company. Professional and personal walls are becoming more permeable.  

For example, 80% of activity comes from our mobile app at Dynamic Signal. Surprisingly, the number of people who downloaded the app increased over the first nine months, as bystanders began to see how easy it was to use. For those who don’t want to download the app, we do send emails and have a browser plugin to share content as well. 

MSH: What’s the most important takeaway for creating a culture of EA? 

RF: The CEO and CMO must practice what they preach. They need to post frequently, and use the tool to set an example for their employees. That kind of constant usage, combined with recognition and rewards, goes a long way. 

We’re in an amazing job market. If your employees are working for you, they likely want to work with you. Executives need to approach it as, “We’re in this together, let’s make it better.”

*Full Disclosure: Oracle is a customer of Dynamic Signal

Friday Aug 14, 2015

4 Steps To Create A Culture of Employee Advocacy

During the month of August, we have been exploring the topic of Employee Advocacy (EA). 

You’d think cultivating a culture of employee advocacy would be easy, right? Create a happy workplace, and advocacy will follow. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Here are four steps to facilitate a culture of EA.  

1. Collaboration

Collaboration and teamwork are essential elements of an advocacy culture. Being a part of a team will encourage your employees to share content. For example, at Oracle Social Cloud, we have built a sense of camaraderie with our Fancy Friday posts. After bonding over pirate costumes and 80s hair, not only has our team become closer, we have also shared more of our content on our personal social handles. We’re letting our friends and followers know we work on a fun team, so you may want to, too.

We weren't kidding - we really dressed up as pirates. 

... and as ladies of the 80's. 

2. Feedback

Letting your employees know what is appropriate content to share is another crucial step to creating a culture of advocacy. What one person might consider “eye catching” content is not necessarily appropriate for a public discussion. There are several ways you can do this: buying a professional tool to distribute content, creating an intraweb page for relevant stories, or just sending out an email blast with suggested posts. Whichever way you do it, it will significantly increase your employee’s confidence.

Feedback after an employee posts is a particularly tricky situation. If it is a huge problem, it must be addressed quickly and publicly so the mistake is not repeated. If it is a minor problem, it’s best to leave it be; micromanaging undermines the sense of trust between employee and employer. Positive reinforcement is the best strategy. Catch your employees doing something good, and they’ll be more likely to repeat it.

3. Trust Your Employees

Like all good relationships, EA starts with trust. As Psychology Today says, “The problem in most workplaces is distrust, not disengagement… Essentially, trust enables engagement. If you want engagement, you need trust.”

This means employers need to trust their employees to behave appropriately on social media. By creating a clear social media policy and encouraging employees to post online, they’re constructing an unofficial social contract: we believe you have good judgement and will obey the rules. If an employee is afraid of losing their job based on a social media post, they won’t do it.

This starts at the beginning of employment: hire well. Ask “If this happened, what would you do?” questions during the interview. Give a pop quiz: “You just received this message. How will you respond in 140 characters?” Check references with specific questions like, “What would you trust this person to do?” and “What was their biggest judgement error?” Hire someone you would trust to take care of your dog.

If you wouldn't trust a new hire to take care of this sweet face, why would you give them the keys to your social voice? 

4. Lead By Example - Motivate Up and Down the Chain

This one is pretty obvious, but it bears repeating: actions speak louder than words. If management insists that EA is important, then they must do it too. Hypocrisy is bad for business. Practice what you preach.

In many companies, however, that simply isn’t reality. If you’re not a digital native, it may be intimidating to jump on board. Convince these employees that advocacy is in their best interest by reminding them that they’re building their personal brand online. Whether it’s for their next job or for landing the next sale, everyone benefits from having a strong digital brand. 

Read about EA and why it matters here. Learn how to understand how to activate employees here. Click here to read about the five most common problems with EA. Finally, learn how EA can improve recruiting.

Tuesday Aug 11, 2015

Recruiting in the Social Media Age

As part of “Employee Advocacy” month, Oracle’s Senior Content Manager Maggie Schneider Huston spoke with Celinda Appleby, Head of Global Employer Branding, about how employee advocacy is incorporated into recruiting at Oracle. 

Recently, I bought a pair of earbuds. Five years ago, this would’ve been a simple purchase: go into the store and buy cheapest pair that doesn’t look like crap. Last week, however, it was an hour-long dive into the rabbit hole of online reviews. Even for a relatively small purchase (it cost less than $15) I wanted to make sure I had The Best Ear Buds For My Dollar.

This is an example of what Celinda Appleby, head of Oracle’s Global Employer Branding & Recruitment Marketing, calls the “Yelp Society.” As consumers, we have more information about purchases than ever before. In the workforce, that means potential employees have more information about your company than ever before.

Celinda Appleby

Companies Face Scrutiny from Potential Candidates

Potential employees already know their digital footprint will be checked by employers. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we encourage employee advocacy; we want to enable our employees to establish their reputations as thought leaders.

In the social media age, this sword swings both ways. Thanks to websites like Glassdoor.com, where employees can anonymously leave reviews on their company, applicants can get the inside scoop on what’s really happening behind closed doors.

Storytelling - Not Advertising

Celinda’s job is to elevate Oracle’s brand as an employer. She’s establishing Oracle as a fun place to work through social media. She focuses on “telling a story, not advertising. We don’t want people to think we are constantly broadcasting.”

For example, she created “Wellness Wednesday.” She emailed her global team of recruiters to ask for images of them doing healthy things - exercising, cooking healthy meals… whatever the employee was comfortable with sharing. She received 27 submissions, which she published to their accounts, which then encouraged other employees to share as well.

#WellnessWednesday! Our engineers in Beijing stay healthy at work. 

This approach is called “recruitment marketing” and is deeply embedded with social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, and blogging. This content is not tied to job postings; it is intended to show the “people behind the screen.”

Employee Advocacy

“Our employees are already posting online anyways - we should use it,” says Celinda. According to Nielsen, 84% of people will act on recommendations from people they know. Also, high quality candidates tend to know other high quality candidates. If your employees are satisfied at work and posting their recommendations on social networks, you’re more likely to recruit other talented people.

Recruiting is changing at the speed of technology. “I believe it starts with social media because our teams are digital. If you trust them, it will trickle down.”

If you want to see what it’s like to work at Oracle, check out #LifeAtOracle or click here.

Thursday Aug 06, 2015

Oracle Social to Roll Out New Twitter Enhanced Customer Service Solution

Today, Twitter announced new data and functionality to create improved and transformative customer service solutions for brands. Oracle Social Cloud is thrilled to be a part of the announcement and extend this enriched Twitter data to our customers. We will be rolling out this new social service solution in a managed release to select customers. The product will be available to additional customers in the fall.

Today’s news compliments the current social service capabilities available through the Oracle Service Cloud and Oracle Social Cloud.

Exceptional Social Responsiveness is The Future of Customer Service

According to Nielsen, more than 1 in 3 consumers prefer social customer service to phone. A recent McKinsey study stated that companies that improve their customer service can see a 30-50% improvement in key measurements including “likelihood to recommend” and “make repeat purchases.” Social service is more than just resolving issues.

“In today’s digital landscape, modern customer care is social and mobile, and increasingly the platform of choice for consumers is Twitter,” said Meg Bear, Group Vice President, Oracle Social Cloud.  "Working with Twitter data allows customers to better integrate enriched social data more deeply within their customer service process to capture, learn, and act on insights to match consumer expectations.”

The importance of social service is echoed by our customers, too. “General Motors continues to strive for excellence with our customer care capabilities, providing new ways to understand and engage with our customers like never before—and it’s a winning strategy for both our customers and our business,” said Rebecca Harris, Global Head of Social Center of Expertise at General Motors. “We interact daily with our customers on Twitter, allowing for a quicker, more personal engagement, enabling General Motors to put its customers at the center of everything we do.”

What Will The New Feature Do?

The new social customer care solution is an upgradeable option for Oracle customers that want to provide the most advanced and innovative solutions to meet the rising expectations of mobile and social consumers. The solution captures Twitter impressions and aggregated engagement metrics, coupled with our advanced listening algorithm, to deliver a next-generation solution that allows customers to better identify influencers, understand social impact, and prioritize service issues.

How It Will Work – Real-World Superior Social Service:

Let’s say you are an airline organization monitoring millions of Tweets across the globe. You are leveraging Oracle Social’s advanced listening, filtering and categorizing capabilities to quickly identify “customer service” topics from other conversations. Your agents respond and resolve customer service and customer care issues with speed. That’s good – but it can be done better.  How do agents easily identify who to respond to given the potential volume of service complaints? How does one Tweet stand out from the next in a blurry sea of Tweets?

For starters, with the new Twitter-enriched data, the airline now has more insights and rich context into each message through an algorithm that weighs impressions and engagement metrics and then color-codes each based on highest impact and priority. This proactive solution allows agents to visually identify messages as they trend based on views, clicks and aggregate engagement metrics. Counting favorites and retweets as the only indicators misses the mark on critical service scenarios that are quickly going viral.

Of course, every customer issue is important, but now airline agents can prioritize and resolve the frustrated customer whose Tweet about his lost luggage was actually seen by 5.5 million people (…and counting).

The new customer care solution will be surfaced in Oracle SRM’s new column-based Engage UI. The new column-based Engage UI will be available to all customers whether or not they upgrade to the advanced Twitter customer care solution.

Tuesday Aug 04, 2015

FamilyShare Network: Using Social Listening to Uncover What Matters

“We’ve done a lot to understand who our audience is and what kind of stories they respond to. There’s a style of headline that teases and informs. There’s a way to [create content] that causes people to smile, click, and share in an authentic way.” 

That’s how Chris Lee, President of Deseret Digital Media (which owns FamilyShare Network) describes the heart of their content creation. Underpinning their 80 social channels with an audience of over 100 million aggregated followers is Oracle Social Cloud’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) solution. Social listening is “paramount,” says Mr. Lee. “Content needs to bridge the audience’s needs and the brand message. If you can’t find the bridge, don’t do it.” 

Finding the Market for Family-Friendly Content

Social media listening was integrated from the beginning. FamilyShare Network, which is based in Utah, had a hunch that there was an opening in the media market for family-friendly content. They began to see success with stories like “10 Things Men Find Unattractive in Women.” Market research indicated their audience was primarily single parent families. From this knowledge base, they started to curate and create content around the needs of these listeners. They created Facebook pages like “I Love My Family” and curated content from a network of freelance and local writers that support the family-friendly perspective. Social media, according to Mr. Lee, has a lot of click bait and appeals to the “least common denominator. Our audience wants content that feels comfortable in a family environment.” 

Creating a “Clean, Well Lit Environment” 

From the brand perspective, there was an under-served market as well. Mr. Lee adds, “Clients told us they’re very careful who they work with in the publishing space because of adjacency problems. They don’t want their brand associated with someone that doesn’t craft a ‘clean, well lit environment.’”

Bridging the Gap

By focusing on their passion for families, they’ve created a space that bridges the gap between what consumers want to read and brands want to say. “We talk about practical solutions for family life,” says Mr. Lee. “We find advertisers that want to be in that same conversation. We want to work with them. When we produce content in collaboration with the client, then we win, the client wins and the audience wins.” This bridge has been very successful for FamilyShare Network: 

1. FamilyShare Network has the top Facebook page for overall engagement, per a December 2014 analysis of the Digital Publisher Category by Unmetric.com

2. FamilyShare Network generates 2.3 billion social impressions monthly

3. They have 22 million unique visitors per month from around the globe

4. Revenue has grown +85% for the past two years

Judging by some of the comments on their most recent posts, fans are happy too. 

“Great info.” 

“Good article to read :)”

In Conclusion

It comes down to that bridge between consumers and brands Mr. Lee spoke of at the beginning. FamilyShare Network used Oracle’s SRM to determine what kind of content consumers wanted, and then worked with brands who want to be involved in that conversation. Everybody wins!

Friday Jul 31, 2015

5 Common Problems With Employee Advocacy

In the third part of a series on Employee Advocacy (EA) we are exploring common problems that arise when launching and running an EA program. To read about why EA is important, click here. To learn how to launch an EA program, click here.

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the first phases of implementing an EA program. Don’t be discouraged if you’re running into some hurdles: we’re here to help.

Hurdle: The Bystander

Every. Single. Office. Will have one (or more.) Don’t be discouraged. Just continue to feed positive energy into the program and it will be fine. You will never get 100% of your team on board, and frankly, that’s just fine. As we showed in the first blog, even if you have 50% participation, you can still create tremendous traction online.

From your employee’s perspective, being active on social is not only extra work, but also risky. Being on social can get you fired. If you say the wrong thing… goodbye, job. It’s easier to sit back and hope “somebody” else does it. You can’t be fired for not participating in EA. So how do you motivate these employees?

1. Personal rewards: For people who are motivated by relationships, provide rewards that encourage personal development, like lunch with the CEO.

2. Power rewards: For people who are motivated by power, provide rewards that speak to their innate desire for authority. For example, allow them to choose where you order lunch.

3. Achievement rewards: For people who are motivated by achievement, provide rewards that publicly recognize how excellent they are. A leaderboard or “Employee of the Week” is a good example of this.

Of course, there’s always a gift card, too.

For companies with an international footprint, a leaderboard can be completely out of the question due to labor laws. If you’re facing this scenario, bring creative ideas (like lunch with the CEO) to your legal team and hope something sticks. If rewards are completely out of the question, make sure your EA program is fun. Hopefully you can draw some of those bystanders into the sunshine with the promise of fun.

Hurdle: I’m Afraid To Get In Trouble

We’ve all heard the stories: employee posts something on social media and gets fired. Workers may ask themselves, “Is this tweet worth risking my career?” Combat this fear by ensuring your teammates are well-versed in the company’s social media policy.

Another simple tip: give them suggested posts tailored to specific platforms. For a B2B company like Oracle, it makes sense for employees to share our content on LinkedIn so they can build their own professional brand. For a B2C company, it might make more sense for employees to share on Facebook or Twitter, where potential customers are already present. This way, it won’t feel like advertising - it would be a natural extension of the product. For example, if you own a pet store, it would make sense for your employees to post pictures of their animals with “#LoveMyPetStore” on Facebook.

Hurdle: You’re a “Boring” Brand

Okay, so maybe you’re not the coolest brand on the planet, but that doesn’t mean your employees can’t advocate for you. Emphasize your corporate culture. At Oracle Social, we highlight our tradition of “Fancy Friday” to show off our quirky personalities. Have some fun with it. It’s social media!

Hurdle: Sustaining Engagement

We all love shiny new things… until we get bored. We’ve experienced this first-hand at Oracle; our first EA initiative was a whopping success, but the second one was not as effective. Granted, the second push still had much higher engagement than a non-EA post, but it wasn’t as popular as the first.

Beat the doldrums by launching mini-campaigns that spark creativity. Keep the campaigns short so you have the “fresh and new” feeling. A campaign could consist of a hashtag, keyword, topic… whatever lights your imagination. The key is to take one small part of your marketing strategy and highlight it for a short period of time. You want to build a pattern of behavior.

Hurdle: Show Me The Money!

If you’re not using an EA tool that tracks clicks and conversions, that’s okay. It will be a little bit harder, but you can show the ROI on EA.

Start by setting goals. What numbers are you hoping to achieve? Are you measuring success by general metrics like reach, impressions, and engagement? Or do you have a specific program you are launching?

Once you’ve established your goals, you’ll have to do some math. (Don’t worry, it’s not hard.) Compare the metrics from pre-EA launch to post-EA launch. See? Not so bad.


EA programs can be extremely beneficial for your company, employees, and bottom line. If you’ve got questions, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook - we are here to help!

Tuesday Jul 28, 2015

Employee Advocacy, Part 2: Putting Employees in Motion

In the second installment of this series on Employee Advocacy (EA), we are discussing strategies to  engage employees in advocacy. Part one discusses what EA is and why it’s important.

It’s really lovely to talk about how 500 employees could relay your message to a potential audience of 50,700, but it’s a lot harder to make those numbers happen. Here’s how we do it:

Begging is not a good look (unless you have fur).

1. Executive Buy In

This topic alone could be a blog post in and of itself, but suffice it to say that no one will do extra work for free without the boss saying, “This is a priority.” Some quick suggestions to make this easier:

A. Show them the numbers: if you have 500 employees, you can generate 50,700 potential impressions. Present clear goals: Show how social posts can impact revenue. For X amount of time and money, we can expect Y more earned media, which will then convert to Z more sales.

B. Show them how easy it is: If your executives are not social media savvy, the idea of letting their employees run wild on social media can be terrifying. Present a social media policy that clearly outlines employee conduct on social media. Introduce them to the platforms so they feel comfortable with the technology.

C. Show off your company culture: If you’re a great place to work, your employees will naturally be jazzed about sharing their experiences. Happy employees are genuine and effective ambassadors for your company.

2. Employee Buy In: What’s In It For Me?

Now that the C-Suite is on board, there are several different approaches to enlist your employees as advocates: 

A. The “Personal Branding” approach: Let’s be honest - the days of staying with one company for 30 years are over. It comes down to this: establishing your personal brand online will help you find your next job. Leaving a digital footprint that demonstrates your expertise in professional areas that matter to you will provide you with more opportunities than an employee who just posts pictures of their cat.

B. The “Incentives” approach: Who doesn’t love a gift card? Or perhaps a preferential parking spot? Lunch with the CEO? There are plenty of ways to reward positive behavior. Many EA tools come with a “leaderboard” that will track which employees are having the most success advocating for your company. Unleashing your employees’ competitive spirit can be very effective. If you don’t want to pit individuals against each other, you could also evaluate groups of employees as a team.

C. The “Performance Review” approach: Unlikely to be successful, and here’s why: no one wants to be forced to advocate for something they don’t believe in. If you’re mandating that your employees post once a week, that could lead to resentment. Don’t do it.

3. All Aboard!

Great! You’ve got the C-suite and (some) of the employees on the advocacy choo-choo train. Here’s how to roll out of the station:

A. Cover your legal bases first: make sure everyone knows your social media policy. You want your employees to feel comfortable posting online; knowing what they can’t say goes a long way.

B. Offer social media training: no question too small, no idea too dumb - let ‘em rip. You’re the social media expert, so teach your employees what works best. 

C. Content Distribution/EA tool: You’ve got to get your content to your employees. There are several options available for EA. Most tools will offer a mobile app, an email alert, and some sort of leaderboard. If a formal tool seems too expensive, perhaps an email blast to your advocates works best. Just be sure to figure out a way to distribute content (and pre-populated posts) to your advocates, so they don’t have to work too hard. Make it as easy as possible for them to share your content.

I’m having some problems!

Don’t worry - everybody will. In the final part of our series, we will discuss tips and tricks that we’ve learned from our own experience in EA. Stay tuned…

Wednesday Jul 22, 2015

Employee Advocacy, Part 1: What Is It, And Why Does It Matter?

We’re diving deep into the topic of employee advocacy (EA) during July. The first in a three part series, this blog explores what EA means, and why it’s an essential part of your social media strategy.

What is Employee Advocacy?

Simply put, EA is when your employees champion your company. It can take many forms - everything from a discussion at a dinner party (“I’m so excited about our new product!”) to a formal content-sharing program.

The Arthur W. Page Society’s “7 Principles” expresses this idea beautifully:

Realize a company’s true character is expressed by its people. The strongest opinions - good or bad - about a company are shaped by the words and deeds of its employees. As a result, every employee - active or retired - is involved with public relations. It is the responsibility of corporate communications to support each employee’s capability and desire to be an honest, knowledgable ambassador to customers, friends, shareowners and public officials.”

Do you know what he's telling his friends? 

Why is Employee Advocacy important?

Let’s talk numbers for a second. Let’s assume your company has 500 employees. Of those, let’s assume that half are happy. Of the 50% that are happy, let’s assume that 60% are on social media. (It’s probably higher than that, but we’re going with averages here.) That means that you have 150 people who can possibly be advocates for your company online. And if those 150 people have 338 friends (again, on average) that means your potential audience is 50,700.

Let me repeat that: your potential audience is 50,700, from just 500 employees.

Do you have 50,700 followers on your branded pages?

In addition, “brand messages are re-shared 24x more frequently when distributed by employees” compared a corporate handle, says MSLGroup. That leads to a 561% increase in the reach of your messages.

EA is the cheapest and most effective way to share your social media content. You don’t have to pay for advertising; your content is shared more frequently. What more could you want?

How Can Advocacy Help?

Employee advocates are brand ambassadors. They can help make your company appear like a place people would want to work; they can raise awareness of products and services; they can even share good news and praise. 

One part of our EA strategy at Oracle Social Cloud is “Fancy Friday,” a tradition where we dress up in costumes and take photos. (Read more about it here.) Our employees love it. Several of us have received comments like, “Your job is so cool- I want to work there!”

What is the benefit for our employees? We’re a creative bunch who want to show off our unique style- exactly what Fancy Friday does. It’s fun. It’s morale-boosting. Who wouldn’t want to wear a pirate costume to work?

Those are some pretty happy pirates! #LifeAtOracle

What’s the benefit for Oracle? We’re establishing ourselves as a fun place to work. Recruiting talented employees will be easier for us. As Oracle CEO Mark Hurd says, “I’m a big believer that he who hath the best people usually wins.”

In closing…

- Happy employees are more likely to advocate for your company. Make sure you’re meeting their needs.

- When you’re hiring, ask yourself, “Is this a person who I want to represent my company?” Even if they’re not in a client-facing or PR position, they’re still a face to your team.

Assuming you’ve hired good people, the next question is: how can I encourage my employees to advocate for our company?

… Stay tuned for part two!


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