Friday Feb 28, 2014

Oracle Social Ready to Rock SXSW for Attendees and Followers

Social Marketing, the social enterprise, and the social cloud will be well represented by the Oracle Social team at this year’s SXSW in Austin. If you’re going, great! We’ll see you there. But even if you’re unable to attend, follow @oraclesocial like a hawk and you’ll get all the takeaways you need, right in the comfort of wherever you are.

Here’s what we’re doing:


You can meet and get your picture made with some of the crew that snagged victory from the jaws of defeat, winning the America’s Cup in the “Miracle on the Bay.” Members of Oracle Team USA like grinder Shannon Falcone will be at our Oracle Discovery Lounge at the Waller Creek Boathouse March 8 and 9 from 4-5p.


And speaking of the Discovery Lounge, that will be Oracle’s headquarters at SXSW. Immerse yourself in innovation around the Social Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and the Internet of Things. These are the innovations rapidly changing today’s enterprise. The networking, food, music, happy hours, and demos run March 8-10, 11a-7p. Come find out just how social we can be!


Mar 8, 1p - The Right POEM Equation in Today’s Shifting Social Landscape.

Oracle Group VP Meg Bear, Kenshoo Social GM Sivan Metzger, Nanigan’s SVP Ben Tregoe, and SHIFT CEO James Borow cover the rising importance of social advertising to target and amplify content for higher engagement. Find out how to leverage paid, owned and earned.

Mar 8, 3p - Setting the Record Straight; Say Goodbye to Social ROI Myths

Oracle VP Erika Brookes, LEGO Director Lars Silberbauer, and Pernod Ricard’s Jeremie Moritz bust myths about social ROI and show how it can be approached in a unified, structured way. Also learn how to align social KPIs with business objectives.

Mar 8, 5p - Slamming Social Into High Gear; a GM Case Study on Social

GM Director of Social Media Communications Mary Henige, GM Social Center of Expertise lead Rebecca Harris, and Digiday’s John McDermont talk about how GM uses social to establish relationships before, during and after the sale. Hear about the new vehicle tech landscape, including self-driving cars, wearable tech, and infotainment.

Plus see modern marketing in action with Oracle Eloqua, and see how Java empowers and navigates the Internet of Things.


The startup #IdeaRally is a physical & virtual gathering of entrepreneurs, technologists, media, industry leaders and startup buffs brainstorming around one of Chevrolet’s guiding principals, technology. What new possibilities do YOU think auto tech and things like Chevrolet’s new 4G connected cars present? Submit your ideas and RT the best ideas by following #IdeaRally March 10 starting at 6p.


Beyond the Oracle Discovery Lounge, Oracle is proud to sponsor the Accelerator program, March 8-9 at the Startup Village. New, cutting edge technologies will be pitched to a live audience as well as a panel of judges, including Oracle Social Cloud’s Rahim Fazal. Which startups will emerge as the biggest thinkers of our time?

And somewhere in there we’ll try to grab a rib or brisket. Don’t forget, even if you aren’t going to SXSW, follow @oraclesocial and we’ll be your eyes and ears in Austin.

SXSW Oracle Social invite


Tuesday Feb 25, 2014

Who Can You Trust to Handle Your Social Media?

social media trustWho’s writing and managing your social media channels? Because whoever that is, THEY are the public voice of your brand. They are your image. They’re the ones building relationships and forming bonds.

Who’s commenting on, liking and sharing your posts, seemingly everyone except your own employees? Are your people really that indifferent to the company and its products?

Much handwringing goes on over who should be allowed to speak for a brand on social. The result of said handwringing (and social policies the length of which rival omnibus bills of Congress) is that employees are not engaging around the brand on social at all. If that’s what you were going for, congrats!

Your social marketing is in the hands of your brand community managers, and the employees extending and amplifying the brand on their personal social channels. Do you trust them? Or are your days and nights spent stressing about controlling them?

Community Managers

For our purposes let’s take this to mean anyone contributing to or managing the actual brand-owned social channels. If they are all of the below, back off and trust them.

  • Intimately knows and represents the audience
  • Can get answers to questions, like now
  • Knows what’s genuinely cool about your brand
  • Has a human personality and recoils at corporate jargon
  • Cares about thrilling customers
  • Unceasingly creative and quick thinking
  • Calm, with great judgment
  • Master of the tech tools
  • Ever-curious researcher and curator
  • Confident and autonomous
  • Literate


Employees might be the greatest wasted natural social marketing resource of our time. Why have they built a wall between their personal social and the brand they work for? Because they’re scared to death.

When social policies are vague, malleable, and based largely on “eh…it depends,” any intelligent employee will choose to socially stay as far away from the brand as they can. There is NO incentive to engage and tons of risk in doing so. Safe + easy is an unbeatable combo.

Do you think your employees are so determined to help you on their personal social channels…for free…that they’re willing to curl up by the fire and read your social media usage policy? The shocking answer is…maybe! Over 50% of employees want to share news about their company. But just 45% of employers encourage employees to engage. It’s silly to not want employees to be active, engaged fans of their own company. So:

  • Make it clear you want them to engage, it’s not a trap.
  • Lay out a few big “don’ts” like competition bashing or violating confidentiality.
  • Have them apply workplace common sense, nothing discriminatory, etc.
  • Encourage them to put the good ol’ “opinions are mine” on their profiles.
  • Ask that they say nothing at all about the brand if they can’t say anything nice.
  • Provide them with content that’s incredibly easy to share.
  • Incentivize engagement. Give them the answer to “why should I?”
  • Offer social training, especially for new employees.

That done, if you still can’t summon up the trust to let your Community Managers and employees market your brand on social, how is it you trust them to work there at all?

Photo: Piotr Dorabiala, stock.xchng

Friday Feb 21, 2014

Why Facebook Buys Things Like WhatsApp

In 2009, some guy named Brian Acton was rejected for a job at Facebook.  In 2014, that same guy is worth at least $3 billion because Facebook bought his and co-founder Jan Koum’s 5-year-old startup, WhatsApp, for $19 billion.

Many were stunned by Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in April, 2012 for $1 billion. How could it possibly be worth it? Those same jaws have now dropped through the floor, past the basement, and are tunneling deep into the ground.

Here’s what turned Mark Zuckerberg’s head when he looked at WhatsApp:

  • 450 million users
  • That number reached faster than any company in history
  • A platform adding 1 million users per day
  • 70% active daily use
  • The most popular messaging app for smartphones
  • Message volume approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume.

And here’s what Zuck wants for Facebook:

  • To truly be a mobile and apps company, as declared.
  • To keep time engaged online focused on Facebook properties.
  • To be where messaging on smartphones happens.
  • To capitalize on emerging markets.
  • To keep growing and adding, not losing, younger users.
  • To eliminate a possible rival and keep it out of competitors’ hands.
  • To have additional potential revenue models.

When you find something that gives you everything you want, and you’re Facebook, the wallet comes out.

Look at the $3 billion failed offer for Snapchat. If people are going to real-time message via something other than social nets, Facebook wants that bet hedged. Messaging results in enormous time-spent-on-platform, and Facebook wants to be that platform. It’s said their focus is on mobile and apps, spending $100 million on an analytics service to track apps and surface winners.

Where does Facebook look if it wants to keep growing? 1.23 billion monthly active users is nothing to sneeze at, but it starts to represent saturation in the developed world. That leaves emerging markets, where messaging apps are a prime motivator for even getting a smartphone. Japan’s Line, South Korea’s Kakao, WeChat…all examples of priority going to messaging. Plus, if Facebook can’t draw younger users one way, it can get the job done another way.

But is it worth it?

WhatsApp’s model is free use for year 1, then 99-cents annually. Facebook sees the user count going to at least 1 billion, so that’s $1 billion a year without ever even going to ads, which Facebook doesn’t rule out eventually doing. And users don’t mind paying, happy to avoid telecom text fees, especially for overseas contacts. Then there’s the value of keeping eyes in Facebook’s world, and keeping a tool with explosive growth out of the hands of entities like Google.

Who should be scared? Other social nets like Twitter might not need to be scared but should certainly be aware of changing messaging preferences. Telecom companies probably need cheering up most. Internet-based services overtook carriers in text volume back in 2012, a big moneymaker they’re increasingly getting squeezed to offer free.

Time will tell how Facebook’s 45th acquisition, the 4th-largest tech acquisition of the past decade and one that’s given WhatsApp a greater value than Coca-Cola Enterprises, pays off…or doesn’t.

Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Feb 18, 2014

New Social Media Guide for Pharma Should Make You Feel Better

social media marketing regulations“One of the most frustrating things about this industry is how we use regulations as an excuse to not participate in social media.” 

- Trish Nettleship, Global Director Social Media & Influence at UCB Pharma

“The excuse for ignoring patients on social channels just went ‘poof’.”

- Leerom Segal, CEO of Klick Health.

That “poof” sound you heard was the release of new FDA guidelines January 13 on the use of social in medical product or pharmaceutical promotion. And it was something social marketers had been waiting on for over 4 years. This was just a draft. A full report is expected this summer.

Here’s what they put out there…for now:

  • Companies can post promo messages on social without first submitting them for FDA approval. But they do have to submit all that promo content after the fact.
  • Firms are responsible for product promo communications on sites that are owned, controlled, created, influenced, or operated by, or on behalf of, the firm.
  • Under some circumstances, firms are responsible for promo on 3rd-party sites, such as if they have control or influence in the process via collaboration, editorial, preview, or review. If they’re just paying to post marketing with no say over other content, no problem.
  • A firm is responsible for the content generated by employees or agents acting on the firm’s behalf to promote the firm's product.

The guidelines have a lot to do with the realities of the social revolution and seek a workable solution for meeting regulatory requirements also being able to participate on social. What’s not workable is submitting every user comment for government approval before it can be published, stripping away the real-time nature of social.

Which is what today’s patient wants.

  • 59% of US adults have looked online for health info in past 12 months.
  • 18% have gone online to find others who share the same health concerns.
  • The average US consumer spends about 52 hours looking for health info online annually.
  • 54% of online health searches were on behalf of someone else.

People are actively engaged in their healthcare and go straight to the web and social with their questions. It falls on pharmaceutical companies and health providers in general to be present on social, empowering, educating, and building trusted relationships. These latest guidelines give firms more of a green light to do just that.

Oracle Social Cloud Director of Outbound Product Management Angela Wells suggests steps pharma companies can start taking in response:

  • Set a social policy: how can you leverage social with each stakeholder group?
  • Solidify workflow, approvals, and permissions.
  • Identify how you’ll archive info for the monthly FDA reporting (some social management platforms automate such archiving and exporting more efficiently than others).
  • Listen to your audience & create targeted content themes.
  • Tap into relevant hashtags, communities and conversations, like #hcsm, #carechat, #HITsm, #MedEd, #bigCchat, #RMchat, #DigitalPharmacist, #DrugSafety, #QualityChat

Photo: Christy Thompson, stock.xchng

Friday Feb 14, 2014

What You Should Look for in a Social Listening Tool

Today’s guest post is from Oracle VP eCommerce and Social, CX Applications Business Group Bill Hobbib, offering up some clarity in a space increasingly crowded with vendors, both large and small, about what features and functions you should look for when shopping for a social listening tool. Beware of incomplete solutions.

Social ListeningFrom time to time, you’ll see analyst rundowns of enterprise listening platforms, each using their own criteria, definitions and methodology. In the midst of these varied approaches, yielding varied results, how can a listening platform best be evaluated?

Buyers now require broader capabilities from their social solutions that extend beyond a single department or group within a large enterprise to address the needs of organizations that want to leverage social, such as Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Commerce. Enterprises want solutions that support the integration of social data across the business to understand customers at a transactional and an intention & lifestyle level. They are looking for not just listening alone, but listening integrated with engaging, publishing, and analytics.

When considering listening and sentiment technologies, it’s important to note that all are not equal. For example, while different automated approaches to sentiment analysis may yield similar results from an identical dataset, for sentiment analysis to be accurate, the initial data must be clean of irrelevant results.

Cutting through the noise to get the best social data for analysis is challenging. This is where different listening technologies make a difference. And this is why many customers have moved from keyword/Boolean listening technology to more sophisticated latent semantic analysis (LSA) - to avoid the noise, errors, and time to separate signal from noise associated with the keyword/Boolean approach.

social listening table

The best solution is to blend all of the above for optimum results. Important considerations with social listening are: the amount of time it takes to onboard and build dictionaries, the effort to remove irrelevant content, and the automatic pulling of common words. Of what value is social data for business analysis if it takes excessive manual effort to find the signal through the noise, or if the data is noisy or just plain wrong?

Another consideration for a listening platform is out-of-the-box availability of indicators that can capture and filter conversations based on intentions (e.g. purchase, switching, sale/coupon), activities & interests, product attributes like price/quality/customer service, and brand health measures. These get you beyond tracking buzz to actionable insights, such as a customer service rep engaging with an unhappy customer, passing competitive or product insights to a product development organization, or using the insights gleaned from customers to create more compelling content the customers can engage with on social media. Also, given the importance of selling and marketing on a global level, support for listening in multiple languages should be considered, especially for enterprise businesses.

Further considerations important to many customers are the amount of time a listening tool has been available and proven in the market, the amount of time the vendor has been in business, and the financial stability of the vendor.

One last aspect: Altimeter Group looked at innovations in the social space and has written about the trend of integrating social with other customer engagement channels for the best data, targeting, and context. “The result: a technology suite that goes beyond just social, designed to entice CMOs with one-stop shopping convenience.” Altimeter sees further consolidation as tech keeps coming together in larger suites and consolidation occurs as the market evolves.

Over time, the market won’t be able to support so many smaller players. Several social vendors have already ceased operation. Altimeter observes, “This left their customers high and dry and needing to start the search for vital tools all over again. That has been another reason why some companies are looking to the big players.”

In summary, buyers considering social listening solutions must assess several factors. The vendors’ offering should be evaluated for a proven track record with the deepest listening technology to quickly, easily, accurately separate signal from noise and categorize conversations based on intentions. The product or solution strategy should include integration of social with other customer engagement channels. And the vendors’ market presence and financial stability should be assessed on multiple dimensions to ensure they have the customer traction and financial resources to be there for you over the long haul.

Happy shopping.

Photo: imagerymajestic/

Tuesday Feb 11, 2014

Were the Super Bowl Social Winners REALLY the Winners?

Super Bowl socialWe know who won the Super Bowl.  (In fact we knew that pretty early in the game.) But every year comes the inevitable post-game analysis of which ads performed best, and, more recently, analysis of which brands executed best on social around the event.

IEG’s annual sponsorship survey shows that social enjoyed the highest increase (+14%) in importance of any channel for activation (+14%), putting it just shy of PR.

It was interesting to watch the various strategies in play. More than ever, ads did not debut during the Super Bowl. They were released either in part or in full prior to the event on digital and social to get buzz started so the buzz would hit its zenith on the big night.

Other brands formed real-time “war rooms” in the hopes of capturing a moment such as Oreo had last year when the lights went out in the stadium. Such a big brand moment however did not occur this year, despite being baited by Joe Namath’s coat and premature coin flipping.

Some brands did big giveaways. Others staged stunts while still others stuck with the tried-and-true user generated content submissions. And, oddly, a great many brands all adopted the same tactic at once, which was to monitor and inject themselves into other brands’ social conversations.

Well? What worked?

Traditionally, social success is measured on a volume metric, Share of Voice (SOV). If that’s the way you’d like to judge, here are your winners:

  1. Budweiser 12.92%
  2. T-Mobile 11.63%
  3. RadioShack 10.37%
  4. Microsoft 6.58%
  5. Coca-Cola 6.17%

But wouldn’t it help to know if the ads made viewers experience generally positive emotions toward and around the brands? That’s a measure of sentiment. Here again, Budweiser wins with 70% positive sentiment. T-Mobile also did well with Tim Tebow’s help, as did RadioShack with its use of nostalgic celebrities.

Beyond these social metrics, we think the deeper you can look, the better. So our friends at Oracle Social Strategy Consulting conceived the Oracle Brand Tracker Index (BTI) to use indicators in the Oracle SRM Listen component to understand the reaction of “engaged consumers” to Super Bowl ads.

The BTI takes positive ad attributes from the SRM indicators (Awesomeness, Humor, Favorite, etc.), subtracts negative ad attributes, then divides the result by each brand's mentions to see whose ads drove awareness + preference.

The results illustrate “buzz” isn’t everything.

Big Game social BTI

#1 on the BTI was Squarespace, which certainly didn’t enjoy the volume of others but performed relevantly and positively with its engagers. The depiction of characters you find on the Internet was relatable and social posts called out specific ones.

RadioShack was a winner in both SOV and BTI (#2), thanks to characters that brought fond memories. Social users had fun spotting each celebrity and calling out their faves on social. #3 Chevrolet left a heartfelt impression with its “Life” commercial around World Cancer Day. Viewers began sharing their own cancer survival stories on social.

#4 Bud Light’s “Epic Night” prank was praised for its use of a non-celebrity, non-actor average guy. Viewers could easily see themselves as that guy. And they continue to love (for the 8th year) Doritos’ (#5) “Crash the Super Bowl” spots. They like that members of the very funny public get the opportunity to be on such a huge stage.

What the Oracle BTI teaches us is what we actually write about quite often. Emotionally connecting with your audience, relating to them, knowing them, and meaning something to them is what will extend your social reach and power. If your fans and followers feel understood, invited and welcome, your brand will be taking home the trophy.

Feel free to take a full look at Oracle Social Strategy Consulting’s Super Bowl report.

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Feb 07, 2014

Social Media Metrics Explained

social media metricsWhen it comes to social media metrics, a wealth of info can turn into an embarrassment of riches. Embarrassing because you’re looking at all these figures, assuming they’re all important, but perplexed over which ones to care about and what those numbers are trying to say.

And if you’re confused, you can only imagine what happens when the bosses look at those numbers.

So assisted by definitions from the Oracle Social Cloud’s analytics, let’s explain just what some of those more prominent figures are.

  • New Fans – Oh look, here’s how many people Liked my Page in a set period.
  • Average Number of New Fans – Average number of people who Liked our page in a set period.
  • Removed Fans – Rats, this number of people unliked our page.
  • Fan Sources – Hey, now we know where the people who Liked us came from, be it it our Page profile, recommended pages, mobile page suggestions, search, etc.
  • Page Stories – Here’s the number of times our Page was Liked, our posts were engaged with, someone checked in, mentioned our Page, tagged a photo of us, etc.
  • People Talking About This - The average number of unique users who created a story about our Page in a set period. That was nice of them.
  • Average Engaged Users – This is a really important number. It’s the average number of unique users who created a story or clicked on content from our Page during a set period.
  • Negative Feedback – Okay, it’s painful, but it shows us how many people unliked us, hit the “X” button on our posts, reported us as spam, and hid one post or even all of our stuff.
  • Top Engaged Users – It helps to know who our real friends are so we can treat them special.
  • Referral Sources – Hmm, if that’s where our visitors are coming from, let’s go there more often and invite them!
  • Impressions – How many times content associated with our Page showed up on a browser. This can be Paid like a Sponsored Story or ad, Organic like being seen in News Feeds or on our Page, or Viral like stories about our Page by a friend of a Fan or a non-Fan.
  • Page Virality – Pretty important. People Talking About This divided by Unique Impressions (the number of people who’ve seen content associated with our Page).
  • Average Reach – Also a biggie. The average number of unique users who saw content associated with our Page during a set period, including paid, organic and viral.
  • Engagement Rate – Pay attention to this one. It’s the percentage of users who interacted with our post when exposed to it. To get it, you add Likes, comments, Shares, link clicks, video plays, photo views, and answers, then divide by Reach.
  • Top Posts – See that top performing post? Let’s do more of that.
  • Best and Worst Performing Times - Based on the ratio of posts to interaction over a 90 day rolling period. Maybe we shouldn’t post when our target is asleep.
  • Total Twitter Engagement Rate - The total percentage of people who interacted with our Twitter stream when exposed to it during a set period.
  • Total Retweet Rate - The percentage of people who retweeted a tweet from our stream when exposed to it during a set period.
  • Total Mention Rate - The percentage of people who mentioned our stream during a set period.

Oracle Social Analytics

Which of these statistics rise above the others in importance depends on your immediate goals for social. You might still be in the audience-building phase, you may be trying to activate your existing audience, or you might be trying to show leads, conversions and service successes from social (in which case you’ll probably want to do some integration with other enterprise systems like CRM).

But at least now you’ve got a fine start in being able to listen to what those numbers are trying to tell you.

Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Feb 04, 2014

Find Out How Close You Are to Being a True Social Business

BackpackerAs organizations have moved through their social strategies in fits and starts, it’s likely many have wished there were some sort of handbook for just how to become a social business in the truest, most effective sense of the term. Well, there’s good news about that.

The Altimeter Group, on behalf of Oracle, has put together the clearest, most detailed path yet seen toward achieving just that, “Delivering on the Promise of the Social Business.” And at a cost of free, it’s quite a worthwhile download.

It should come as welcome relief to managers who had control wrested out their hands by the social and customer experience revolutions, and who desire to get some of that control and order back, with sensible social strategies employed both in their external communications and their internal workflows.

The eBook’s authors point out enterprise orgs have an average of 178 social accounts, with some 13 departments actively engaging on social. Yes the concept of the social business is emerging, but with major challenges around all these disparate, non-strategic, ad-hoc, non-integrated social approaches…all being executed in the silos of yesterday’s organizational structures.

If you don’t have the right systems, training, tools, or people to execute social at scale, don’t be overly hard on yourself. You’re hardly alone. New ways of thinking, collaborating, and operating are needed across people, processes, and technology. And this eBook reveals the value of those transformations.

The value of becoming a social business exists across the entire enterprise:

  • Marketing and Communications – example: right-time & real-time marketing
  • Sales – example: using social signals to prioritize and score leads.
  • Customer Care – example: faster response times at potentially lower costs.
  • HR and Talent Management: example: social recruiting.
  • Product Development – example: opening up internal innovation.
  • Internal Collaboration – example: collective expertise to propagate best practices.

You’ll learn the 6 stages of social business maturity, measured by how aligned social is with business goals and how aligned the org is to allow for proper execution. And as a social leader inside your organization, you’ll learn what your priorities should be, from making sure strategy lines up with business goals to showcasing results to the right people.

Will you ever be 100% of the way “there” as a social business? Of course not. Our new reality is that new ways to communicate, collaborate and execute present themselves continuously. This is a journey, not a destination. But if you’re going to go on a journey, a guide sure can come in handy.

Bonus: Join Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li and Oracle Social’s Erika Brookes for a webcast on the eBook’s findings and recommendations Feb. 13 at noon EST.

Photo: Benjamin Earwicker, stock.xchng


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