Friday Jun 28, 2013

Social Network Updates: While You Were Busy Marketing 2

biz showerSince social moves at the speed of data, it’s already time for another update, as we did back in April, on the changes the various social networks have made or gone through while you were busy marketing.

Facebook

There’s a lot of talk Facebook’s developing a mobile product to act like Flipboard and surface news, from both users and media outlets.

The biggest news was Facebook/Instagram’s introduction of 15-second videos, enhanced with with filters, to take some of Vine’s candy. You can also delete parts of videos and rerecord them, and there’s image stabilization.

Facebook’s ad revenue is coming along just fine, thank you very much. 35% quarter-to-quarter growth in Q2. And it looks like new formats like Mobile App Install Ads and Unpublished Page Posts are adding to the mix.

If you don’t already, you’ll soon see a little camera in comment boxes letting you insert photos right into the comments you make. The drive toward “more visual” continues.

The other big news is Facebook’s adoption of our Twitter friend, the hashtag. Adding # sets apart the post topic so it can be easily found or discovered. It’s also being added to Google Plus, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

Twitter

Want to send someone a promoted tweet when they’re in range of your store? That could be happening by the end of this year.

Some users have been seeing automatic in-stream previews of images on Twitter.com. Right now it’s images in your own tweets, but we can assume all tweets are next.

Get your followers organized! Twitter raised the limit on the number of lists you can create from 20 to 1,000. They also raised the number of accounts you can have in a list from 500 to 5,000.

Twitter started notifying you when someone favorites a tweet you’re mentioned in or re-tweets a tweet you re-tweeted. Anyway, it’s the first time Twitter’s notified you about indirect interactions like that.

Who’s afraid of Instagram? A study shows 6-second Vine videos are being posted to Twitter at the rate of 9/second, up from 5/second 2 months ago. Vine has over 13 million users and branded Vines are 4x more likely to be shared than video ads.

Google Plus

Now featuring a 3-column redesigned stream, and images that take up a whole column. And photo filters Auto Highlight and Auto Awesome work to turn your photos into a real show.

Google Hangouts is the workhorse for all Google messaging now, it’s not just an online chat with 9 people anymore.

Google Plus Dashboard improves the connection between your company’s Google Plus business page and your Google Plus Local. Updates go out across all Google properties and you can do your managing from the dashboard.

With Google Plus’ authorship system, you can build “Author Rank” based on what you write and put on the web. If your stuff is +1’ed and shared a lot, you’re the real deal and there are search result benefits.

LinkedIn

"Who's Viewed Your Updates" shows you what you’ve shared recently, who saw it and what they did about it in real-time.

Influencers” is, well, influential. Traffic to all LI news products has gone up 8x since it was introduced. LinkedIn is quickly figuring out how to get users to stick around awhile.

You and your brand can post images and documents in status updates now. In fact, that whole “document posting” thing is making some analysts wonder if LinkedIn will drift on over to the Dropboxes and YouSendIts of the world.

C’mon, admit it. Your favorite part of LinkedIn is being able to see who’s viewed your profile. Now you’ve got even more info and can see what/who you have in common. Premium users get even deeper insights about how people are finding them.

If you’re a big fan of security, you’ll love that LinkedIn started offering two-factor authentication (2FA). It’s optional, but step 2 is a one-time code texted to your registered mobile.

Pinterest

A study showed pins have a looong shelf life compared to other social net posts. “Clicks kept coming for 30 days and beyond.” Most pins are timeless, and the infinite scroll causes people to see older pins.

Is it a keeper? Pinterest jumped 82% to 54 million users in the past year. It’s valued at $2.5 billion and is one of the biggest sources of referral traffic there is. That said, CEO Ben Silbermann adds, "Right now, we don't make money."

A new search feature stops you from having to endlessly scroll through your own pins looking for that waterfall picture you posted. Simply select “just my pins” in the search bar.

New "Rich Pins" lets brands add info like price and availability to pins that can be updated daily via a data feed from your merchant site. Not so fast, you have to apply to Pinterest for it first.

Like other social nets, Pinterest does not allow sexual content, nudity, or even partial nudity. However…some art contains nudity, and Pinterest wants to allow art. What constitutes “art” will be judged by…what we have to assume are Pinterest employees who love their job.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng, Tim Marmon

Tuesday Jun 25, 2013

Augmenting your Social Efforts via Data as a Service (DaaS)

rack keyThe following is the 3rd in a series of posts on the value of leveraging social data across your enterprise by Oracle VP Product Development Don Springer and Oracle Cloud Data and Insight Service Sr. Director Product Management Niraj Deo.

In this post, we will discuss the approach and value of integrating additional “public” data via a cloud-based Data-as-as-Service platform (or DaaS) to augment your Socially Enabled Big Data Analytics and CX Management.

Let’s assume you have a functional Social-CRM platform in place. You are now successfully and continuously listening and learning from your customers and key constituents in Social Media, you are identifying relevant posts and following up with direct engagement where warranted (both 1:1, 1:community, 1:all), and you are starting to integrate signals for communication into your appropriate Customer Experience (CX) Management systems as well as insights for analysis in your business intelligence application.

What is the next step?

Augmenting Social Data with other Public Data for More Advanced Analytics

When we say advanced analytics, we are talking about understanding causality and correlation from a wide variety, volume and velocity of data to Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to achieve and optimize business value. And in some cases, to predict future performance to make appropriate course corrections and change the outcome to your advantage while you can. The data to acquire, process and analyze this is very nuanced:

  • It can vary across structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data
  • It can span across content, profile, and communities of profiles data
  • It is increasingly public, curated and user generated

The key is not just getting the data, but making it value-added data and using it to help discover the insights to connect to and improve your KPIs.

As we spend time working with our larger customers on advanced analytics, we have seen a need arise for more business applications to have the ability to ingest and use “quality” curated, social, transactional reference data and corresponding insights. The challenge for the enterprise has been getting this data inline into an easily accessible system and providing the contextual integration of the underlying data enriched with insights to be exported into the enterprise’s business applications.

The following diagram shows the requirements for this next generation data and insights service or (DaaS):

data1

Some quick points on these requirements:

Public Data, which in this context is about Common Business Entities, such as -

  • Customers, Suppliers, Partners, Competitors (all are organizations)
  • Contacts, Consumers, Employees (all are people)
  • Products, Brands

This data can be broadly categorized incrementally as -

  • Base Utility data (address, industry classification)
  • Public Master Reference data (trade style, hierarchy)
  • Social/Web data (News, Feeds, Graph)
  • Transactional Data generated by enterprise process, workflows etc.

This Data has traits of high-volume, variety, velocity etc., and the technology needed to efficiently integrate this data for your needs includes -

  • Change management of Public Reference Data across all categories
  • Applied Big Data to extract statics as well as real-time insights
  • Knowledge Diagnostics and Data Mining

As you consider how to deploy this solution, many of our customers will be using an online “cloud” service that provides quality data and insights uniformly to all their necessary applications. In addition, they are requesting a service that is:

  • Agile and Easy to Use: Applications integrated with the service can obtain data on-demand, quickly and simply
  • Cost-effective: Pre-integrated into applications so customers don’t have to
  • Has High Data Quality: Single point access to reference data for data quality and linkages to transactional, curated and social data
  • Supports Data Governance: Becomes more manageable and cost-effective since control of data privacy and compliance can be enforced in a centralized place

Data-as-a-Service (DaaS)

Just as the cloud has transformed and now offers a better path for how an enterprise manages its IT from their infrastructure, platform, and software (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS), the next step is data (DaaS).

Over the last 3 years, we have seen the market begin to offer a cloud-based data service and gain initial traction. On one side of the DaaS continuum, we see an “appliance” type of service that provides a single, reliable source of accurate business data plus social information about accounts, leads, contacts, etc. On the other side of the continuum we see more of an online market “exchange” approach where ISVs and Data Publishers can publish and sell premium datasets within the exchange, with the exchange providing a rich set of web interfaces to improve the ease of data integration.

Why the difference? It depends on the provider’s philosophy on how fast the rate of commoditization of certain data types will occur.

How do you decide the best approach?

Our perspective, as shown in the diagram below, is that the enterprise should develop an elastic schema to support multi-domain applicability. This allows the enterprise to take the most flexible approach to harness the speed and breadth of public data to achieve value.

The key tenet of the proposed approach is that an enterprise carefully federates common utility, master reference data end points, mobility considerations and content processing, so that they are pervasively available. One way you may already be familiar with this approach is in how you do Address Verification treatments for accounts, contacts etc. If you design and revise this service in such a way that it is also easily available to social analytic needs, you could extend this to launch geo-location based social use cases (marketing, sales etc.).

Our fundamental belief is that value-added data achieved through enrichment with specialized algorithms, as well as applying business “know-how” to weight-factor KPIs based on innovative combinations across an ever-increasing variety, volume and velocity of data, will be where real value is achieved.

data2

Essentially, Data-as-a-Service becomes a single entry point for the ever-increasing richness and volume of public data, with enrichment and combined capabilities to extract and integrate the right data from the right sources with the right factoring at the right time for faster decision-making and action within your core business applications. As more data becomes available (and in many cases commoditized), this value-added data processing approach will provide you with ongoing competitive advantage.

Let’s look at a quick example of creating a master reference relationship that could be used as an input for a variety of your already existing business applications.

data3

In phase 1, a simple master relationship is achieved between a company (e.g. General Motors) and a variety of car brands’ social insights. The reference data allows for easy sort, export and integration into a set of CRM use cases for analytics, sales and marketing CRM.

In phase 2, as you create more data relationships (e.g. competitors, contacts, other brands) to have broader and deeper references (social profiles, social meta-data) for more use cases across CRM, HCM, SRM, etc.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as the amount of master reference relationships is constrained only by your imagination and the availability of quality curated data you have to work with.

DaaS is just now emerging onto the marketplace as the next step in cloud transformation. For some of you, this may be the first you have heard about it. Let us know if you have questions, or perspectives. In the meantime, we will continue to share insights as we can.

Photo: Erik Araujo, stock.xchng

Friday Jun 21, 2013

Provocative Tweets From the Dachis Social Business Summit

tower guardOn June 20, all who follow social business and how social is changing how we do business and internal business structures, gathered in London for the Dachis Social Business Summit. In addition to Oracle SVP Product Development, Reggie Bradford, brands and thought leaders posed some thought-provoking ideas and figures. Here are some of the most oft-tweeted points, and our thoughts that they provoked.

Tweet: The winners will be those who use data to improve performance.
Thought: Everyone is dwelling on ROI. Why isn’t everyone dwelling on the opportunity to make their product or service better (as if that doesn’t have an effect on ROI)? Big data can improve you…let it.

Tweet: High performance hinges on integrated teams that interact with each other.
Thought: Team members may work well with each other, but does the team as a whole “get” what other teams are doing? That’s the key to an integrated, companywide workforce. (Internal social platforms can facilitate that by the way).

Tweet: Performance improvements come from making the invisible visible.
Thought: Many of the factors that drive customer behavior and decisions are invisible. Through social, customers are now showing us what we couldn’t see before…if we’re paying attention.

Tweet: Games have continuous feedback, which is why they’re so engaging.  Apply that to business operations.
Thought: You think your employees have an obligation to be 100% passionate and engaged at all times about making you richer. Think again. Like customers, they must be motivated. Visible insight that they’re advancing on their goals helps.

Tweet: Who can add value to the data?  Data will tend to migrate to where it will be most effective.
Thought: Not everybody needs all the data. One team will be able to make sense of, use, and add value to data that may be irrelevant to another team. Like a strategized football play, the data has to get sent to the spot on the field where it’s needed most.

Tweet: The sale isn’t the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s the start of a new marketing cycle.
Thought: Another reason the ROI question is fundamentally flawed. The sale is not the end of the potential return on investment. After-the-sale service and nurturing begins where the sales “victory” ends.

Tweet: A dead sale is one that’s not shared.  People must be incentivized to share.
Thought: Guess what, customers now know their value to you as marketers on your behalf. They’ll tell people about your product, but you’ve got to answer, “Why should I?” And you’ve got to answer it with something substantial, not lame trinkets.

Tweet: Social user motivations are competition, affection, excellence and curiosity.
Thought: Your followers will engage IF; they can get something for doing it, love your culture so much they want you to win, are consistently stunned at the perfection and coolness of your products, or have been stimulated enough to want to know more.

Tweet: In Europe, 92% surveyed said they couldn’t care less about brands.
Thought: Oh well, so much for loving you or being impressed enough with your products & service that they want you to win. We’ve got a long way to go.

Tweet: A complaint is a gift.
Thought: Our instinct where complaints are concerned is to a) not listen, b) dismiss the one who complains as a kook, c) make excuses, and d) reassure ourselves with internal group-think that they’re wrong and we’re right. It’s the perfect recipe for how to never, ever grow or get better. In a way, this customer cares more than you do.

Tweet: 78% of consumers think peer recommendation is the best form of advertising.  Eventually, engagement is going to eat advertising.
Thought: Why is peer recommendation best? Trust. If a friend tells me how great a movie was, I believe him. He has credibility with me. He’s seen it, and he could care less if I buy a ticket. He’s telling me it was awesome because he sincerely believes that it was.  That’s gold.


Tweet:
86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
Thought: This “how mad can we make our customers without losing them” strategy has to end. The customer experience has actual monetary value, money you’re probably leaving on the table.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jun 18, 2013

8 Tough Social Strategy Questions for Your CEO

thinkerOften, the best way to get someone to think is to ask questions that get them to at least start thinking about what you’ve asked.  You may not get an answer right away, but the search for a good answer begins because an unanswered question tends to linger until resolved. This can get your CEO contemplating their social strategy.

We derive our questions from the recently released “State of Social Marketing” report from Altimeter Group, which polled a variety of brand and digital types involved in social marketing.

Study: The main goal of social is a near tie between engagement and brand lift.  Sales as the top goal fell over 40% in this year’s survey.
Question: Just what is it you want our social to accomplish?  
Pick one. Pick the one by which you’re going to judge the value of our social media. Pick the one you think is worth investing in. Don’t just leave me groping in the dark to prove “general” social ROI.

Study: It’s now believed most social users expect exclusive content from brands, even more than customer service, and definitely more than deals.
Question: If we start social channels for our brand, where will the content come from?  
You wouldn’t start a TV station without knowing where the shows to put on it will come from. But that’s what CEO’s are doing with social channels. The belief is that content comes out of thin air, by magic, and for free. What a dumb belief.

Study: More than anything else, budgets are holding back social and digital marketing.
Question: Is it because you don’t know what social marketing realistically costs, or is it that you won’t budget for it until it proves that it’s effective with no resources?  
This is the classic “don’t get in the water until you know how to swim” philosophy. It makes zero common sense. If they want to “test” social, fine. But give it legs to stand on so that it can fairly pass that test.

Study: More than ever, executive buy-in is cited as the reason social went mainstream at the brand.
Question: What will it take to get you excited about social?  
When you’re dating, you’re going along, having a pleasant time. But then that one little thing happens that sets off fireworks and alters the relationship. What would make your CEO finally “heart” social?

Study: Fewer social marketers believe they understand their social user than did last year.
Question: Do you even care what your customers think?  
Because seriously, with the growing awareness we’re in the age of customer centricity, with enormously empowered customers, with tools available to know and understand the customer better than ever before, if you don’t know your customer, it’s because you’re going out of your way not to. Find out if your CEO is a fan of trapped, manipulated customers or of raving fans.

Study: 54% have still not asked social users what they want from the brand.  That’s unchanged from 2011.
Question: New question not necessary. Just ask the one above again.  
Study: Only slightly more managers see social as being a mainstream part of their organizations than did in 2011.

Question: You realize you’re at risk of being a dinosaur, right?  
Corporate leaders aren’t being asked to be innovators, pioneers and risk-takers. That ship has sailed. Now we’re at the point where the continued refusal to adopt a fully accepted modern means of communication makes an organization just look silly. It’s like taking a wait-and-see approach toward this “telephone” thing.

Study: The trends managers are most concerned about are mobile experiences, followed by content management. Integrated experiences came in 6th.
Question: How can we have integrated experiences (which include mobile and content management) with a patchwork of vendors and tools?
If your CEO can show you seamless integration amongst a quilt of disparate technologies that socially enable the enterprise, they should. Otherwise, time to talk about choosing a technology partner whose components can be added as needed.

Discussions like these should not be avoided. Answers rarely come without questions before them.

@mikestiles
Photo: Mario Sanchez, stock.xchng

Friday Jun 14, 2013

Forget B2B and B2C – Tech Enables B2P (Business to People) Marketing

handshakeUh oh, here comes more silo-busting.  For decades we’ve operated with a mentality of two separate marketing worlds, B2B and B2C. It’s another one of those things that’s ingrained in us, but that’s ripe for upheaval and disruption. Today, guest blogger Angela Wells, Oracle Director Outbound Product Management for Social, explains why B2B and B2C might be consolidating into B2P.

Marketers traditionally think of themselves as targeting either businesses or consumers.  Books and blogs vie to tell us how to succeed in either of these schools of thought. We can turn to experts, resources and companies based on their reputation for executing one or the other, but then we might miss out on the opportunities today’s technology offers us.

In my marketing career, I’ve helped sell everything from 99-cent impulse bags of potato chips in grocery stores to multi-million dollar, multi-year market research programs to global Fortune 100 companies. Yet I’ve never been more excited about the current opportunities to connect with potential customers in new ways, driven by tech.

What’s “B2P Marketing”?

It’s the recognition that businesses aren’t buying what you’re trying to sell. Individual decision makers, people, inside those businesses are buying what you’re trying to sell (or not), making judgment calls on behalf of their companies.

B2C Marketing is aimed at consumers making purchasing decisions primarily around simple products for personal use. B2B Marketing boils down to “getting leads,” and there’s plenty being written these days about B2B content marketing for achieving just that. B2P Marketing “gets” that human decision makers and influencers drive both.

It’s no surprise emotions and perceived relationships with brands influence product & service recommendations. Be aware corporate decision makers and influencers are entrusted with major investment choices, so the perceived relationship will factor greatly in their willingness to recommend you and be your inside advocate.

Why Does “B2P Marketing” Matter More Now?

With the rise of social and engagement, it’s become increasingly obvious we’re all targeting people.  And these people are consuming media like never before, across a range of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Individuals look to connect online with brands that matter to their personal choices (why I’m a fan of Dairy Queen on Facebook), and to inform their professional choices (why Oracle Social has over one million Facebook fans).

Keys to B2P Marketing Success

Continuously Offer Content of Value:
Content is created every day and of every kind people gravitate towards – repeatedly! Yes, as marketers, we’re trying to sell. But those with whom we communicate will find real value if we primarily educate and inform so they can be better at what they do.

Have a Clear Brand Voice:  
The impersonal “one to many” communications on most corporate websites often fall flat. Crafting content as if you were writing personally to a professional colleague might help your messages sound more genuine.

Engage in Ongoing Customer Dialogue:  
Social offers a two-way dialogue, complete with the ability to see, comment, re-tweet…positively and negatively. For example, Oracle Eloqua created a community for engaged customers on which to share feedback with Oracle Eloqua employees and each other.

Provide Support that Helps End Users:  
“Businesses” don’t call your customer support, people do. They’re reaching out to your account managers or combing through your “help” materials. What kind of human experience are they having? Individuals lose precious time when they have issues with their purchase from you. Keep your support info updated and easy to find. Making customers input search terms that surface mostly irrelevant results from a massive online catalog will rarely get you rave reviews.

So B2B and B2C, welcome the B2P concept, marketing with a keen awareness that real people drive decisions and effectively managing social relationships with them is critical.

Tuesday Jun 11, 2013

The First 4 Questions of a Social Strategy

chessLet’s face it.  In many businesses, there is no social strategy. Because of all the social media buzz, a Facebook Page was launched, a Twitter stream was started, and their management was tasked to someone, perhaps by virtue of being in their early 20’s, as part of their job. They get a bemused pat on the head when followers go up, but then it’s back to business as it was done in the 90’s.

If something’s worth doing at all, it’s worth having a plan and a purpose. Even company picnics have a plan and a purpose. They’re sometimes more strategized than social is.

So for those still in the starting blocks, here are 4 things to ask to get a serious-minded social strategy going.

Question 1: Whom Do I Want to Talk To? 
Suppose I want the parents in my kid’s class to know there’s a bake sale coming up and we need cupcakes. I could stand on a street corner holding a sign everyone who drives by could see. Or, I could send out a note to the class parent email list.

The right choice is obvious, yet many businesses lunge into social without a clear idea of whom they want to reach. Not asking the question, or leaving it for everyone to assume, is a mistake. It warrants some thought.

Will you use social to introduce your product to people who’ve never heard of it? Will you use social to get people who’ve bought your product to buy again? Will you use social to get regular customers to spread the word about you? Will you use social to execute customer service? Will you use social to conduct research? Will you use social to court and build relationships with experts in your industry? Will you use social to connect to your partners and vendors?

“All of the above” can’t be the answer, at least with one strategy. Each audience requires its own strategy. Start by picking one audience, the one most important to you, and start interacting with them using the next questions. Multiple audiences and strategies can then be added as you go and grow.

Question 2: What Do I Want Them to Do? 
Many businesses ask, “What do I want to tell them?” It’s the kind of push-marketing mentality that’s falling out of favor as the public, especially younger demos, grows increasingly repelled by desperate messages from self-absorbed brands. Telling them something isn’t enough anyway. You want them to do something. But you can’t get them to do it until you know what “it” is.

Do I want them to share posts? Do I want them to talk to each other about us? Do I want them to watch our videos? Do I want them to tell us what they do and don’t like about our product? Do I want them to use a coupon? Do I want them to play a branded game? Do I want them to join a rewards program? Do I want them to check in to my location? Do I want them to contribute content?

Until you know what you want them to do, you can’t get to the next issue of what you must give them in order for them to do it. Believe me, they aren’t thinking about your needs and what’s best for you. They must be motivated by something of value to them.

Question 3: Where’s the Best Place to Reach the Target?
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Flickr, GetGlue, Viggle, MySpace, Wordpress, Blogger, LiveJournal, Tagged, Orkut, Reddit, Meetup…the list goes on. There’s no shortage of social networks, each with its own angle.

You’ll want to assess which are most populated with your target, and which offer effective interaction opportunities for brands. Only you can determine how large of an audience makes participating on a social network worth it. Which leads us to the next question.

Question 4: Can I Finish What I Start?
Or better yet, will I finish what I start?

Like any other kind of marketing, social requires commitment and resourcing. It’s not a hobby, or a part time job, or busywork for an intern. If you launch into the social world with no plan, no purpose, no guidelines, no source of consistent quality content, no way to respond to customers, no social technology platform that can publish/moderate/analyze your communities across multiple social channels, you could actually do the brand more damage than good.

Give social a fair shake, with a solid strategy behind it, and the reasons for doing so will become clear as the communication pipeline between you and your customers really starts flowing.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng, Kriss Szkurlatowski

Friday Jun 07, 2013

The Dynamic Duo of the Enterprise

heroNo, I’m not talking about Kirk and Spock.  The Dynamic Duo of the enterprise is the CMO and CIO. No positions are evolving more or faster, brought on by the perfect storm of social, mobile, and data. To triumph, the CMO and CIO must partner as never before.

In the AdAge webcast, “Capitalizing on Marketing & Technology: Social’s Powerful Impact on People, Processes & Technology,” Oracle VP Product Strategy Erika Brookes and Forrester VP & Practice Leader David Cooperstein discussed how changes to these two positions are altering the entire organization’s structure and operations.

Social changed communication. It’s how people now interact, get informed, express themselves, and connect to brands. Facebook has a billion users, Twitter over 200 million, Pinterest over 50 million and Instagram over 100 million. Since 2010, social site visitors went from 58 to 70%. 45% Liked, followed or became a fan of a brand, with the average Facebook user Liking 9 of them.

The 2nd revolution, the shift to mobile, is happening quickly and right now. By the end of the year, there’ll be more mobile devices than people. Mobile is at 55% penetration in the US. More time is spent on smartphones than is spent online. And 55% of social consumption happens on mobile.

So, technology is how marketing is executed. And marketing/CX are technology’s key raisons d’etre. That’s why the enterprise needs heroes, the Dynamic Duo of the CIO and CMO working in tandem, each bringing their unique strengths. Our Dynamic Duo has to go up against:

POW! The Data

80% of data is unstructured and is literally growing by the second. Emails, blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, pictures, videos, online purchases, customer inquiries…all trying to teach us what our customer wants, if we’d just listen. In 2012, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created daily. That’s a 1 with 18 zeros after it.

Time to flash the “C-signal” into the night sky, calling on our Dynamic Duo to determine what data is relevant and actionable, institute systems to gather and process that data, and integrate that data holistically across the enterprise to every customer touch point. They should be fighting for a better “customer-centric” tomorrow, where data leads to exceptional products and flawless customer experiences.

BAM! Internal Disruption

Marketing and technology are converging, a trend that will become the new “normal” in just a few years. In October 2012, Oracle & the Economist released the survey “Cultivating Business-led Innovation,” which found companies with cross-collaboration, taking advantage of disruptive technologies, are the most successful.

Who should instigate these organizational changes? In a perfect world, CEO’s recognize the disruption and see the opportunities therein. Some companies have named Chief Digital Officers. It might stick, or it might be a transitional role given how fundamental “digital” is to business (like having a Chief Copy Machine Officer). Others suggest the formation of a Marketing Technology Office (MTO).

Aside from technology, there are cultural changes wherein roles and habits long and comfortably held get upended. The CIO must understand the speed of marketing is different than the speed of tech maintenance. The CMO must understand tech, period. It can no longer be “those guys in the other department.”

BOP! Social ROI

Ever get the feeling social is held to a higher ROI accountability than many other marketing channels? That’s because it often is. Some use it as an excuse not to deal with the very real changes we’re seeing. At Oracle, we socially enable enterprises such that social is not just a marketing channel, it’s integrated throughout the organization both externally (customers) and internally (employee collaboration).

On the marketing side, perhaps it’s more realistic (and fair) to measure social ROI on whether users were moved to the next step, not necessarily straight to the cash register. Remember that bit about data leading to exceptional products and flawless customer experiences? That’s the kind of thing that should kick the ROI question to the curb.

So cheer on our Dynamic Duo, for they are agents of some of the biggest, fastest changes in business the world has ever seen.

@mikestiles
Photo: Julien Tromeur, stock.xchng

Tuesday Jun 04, 2013

Threaded Conversations Make Management Platforms a Must

threadThe phrase “Facebook is rolling out something new” always charges the air with a mixture of excitement, curiosity and anxiety.  One of the more recent innovations was threaded conversations and ranked comments.

Threaded conversations allow users to reply to a specific comment so discussions around that comment are relevant and can be easily followed in a thread. Ranked comments bring the comments getting the most engagement to the top, the idea being to “reward” engagement-inspiring contributions with better positioning. Plus, each user should see personalized rankings so comments from people they know trump others.

Facebook will kick these features on for all pages by or around July 10. The goal, of course, is to increase overall engagement and thus, time spent on Facebook. And while you may not lie awake at night worrying about what Facebook needs, engagement means more time spent with your brand’s posts, and that’s a good thing for you.

A Facebook spokesperson said, “We think this update will allow for easier management of conversations around posts.” However, now might be a good time to go check and see if your Community Manager’s face is turning blue or if they’re reaching for a blood pressure cuff.

On the user side, it all makes sense. Conversations will be more organized. Users will be notified of additions to conversations they’re participating in so they’re easier to follow. There’s no need to tag an earlier commenter, because the reply will be nested under the comment.

On the admin side, a Social Media Today piece outlined potential challenges. If a CM with multiple pages doesn’t want to get bombed with notifications, they’ll have to manually, repeatedly go through each post and thread to see what’s new and what warrants a response. No more glancing at the bottom of comments to see if something’s been added. Discussions with high engagement go to the top for higher visibility…yes, even those bashing the brand. Admins can down-rank such comments but have to catch them first. And, since direct response to comments makes things more personal, some CM’s are seeing an uptick in bullying.

Which makes finding a social channel management tool more essential than ever. For Oracle’s part, the Engage component of the Social Relationship Management Suite supports these new features. Comment replies do allow for direct responding to fans and hold particular implications around social customer service. But with the management suite, CM’s have access to Read/Unread status so they can easily see which comments and replies have been read so nothing falls through the cracks. The suite’s workflow lets CM’s assign the message/comment/reply to the right person internally so it can be quickly addressed. Labels let managers categorize messages, both manually and automatically, for easy access. And the full message audit trail lets them follow up to see what team member took what action on what post, and when.

Clearly, the combination of multiple social channels per brand, numerous fans on each channel, and an ever-growing list of new features such as threaded conversations and ranked comments increasingly makes the notion of effective, customer-pleasing page management using native-only functionalities a non-starter.

But if you’re going to go that route, you may want to buy your CM yoga classes or some other type of relaxing activity.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

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