Tuesday Jul 29, 2014

What’s Not to Like About Analytics Customized Just for You?

“There just isn’t enough data available out there,” said nobody in the past year.  The problem organizations face today is analytics, the practical management of the vast amounts of social data now available. And that’s before looping in all other enterprise data.

Apparently, one size does not fit all. Metrics that matter to one brand don’t matter to another. Different bosses want to see different KPI’s. Some companies have 6 community managers with a couple specializing in analytics, while some have one soul doing it all, with limited time to allocate toward analytics.

Oracle Social just released Custom Analytics as part of its Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform. So I made the usual pest of myself and riddled Analytics Product Manager Lisa Black with questions.

Pest: What’s changed about the way analytics can be surfaced in Oracle SRM?

Lisa: The biggest change is that a user can select the metrics they care about most, and lay out those metrics in the order they choose. This offers unparalleled flexibility compared with the previous way analytics was surfaced. The experience becomes more user-centric AND more enterprise scale. User centric because of what I just described. Enterprise scale because now the user can create a CMO view, a brand manager view, and a community manager view of the information – all from the social data centralized in the SRM platform.

Pest: Any additional advantages other than the ones you mentioned?

Lisa: I can now more easily, in a side-by-side view, compare the performance of my brand across multiple social networks. I can also more easily compare multiple streams within a network. Say I have 3 Facebook pages and want to compare them without looking at an aggregate – I can now do that. And if I want the aggregate of my 3 Facebook pages, I can do that! I can select which KPIs to display and plot several metrics on the same graph, which is great when comparing actions such as likes, comments and shares. The configurability offers many options, including more intelligent time period selections such as ‘current month’ and ‘previous month’. Being able to compare these time periods without selecting start & end dates means my report will stay relevant without having to make new date selections. Lastly, I can share my work with others on my team within the SRM platform by sending them a link.

Pest: If I’m a CM responsible for reporting the performance of our social channels to upper management, how can this help me?

Lisa: It’ll save you time and let you focus on the goals upper management is interested in watching, such as audience growth or increased engagement. Now you can spend your time analyzing data to make useful conclusions, which can go in your reports. There’s more value in that than having to navigate multiple pages to piece a story together.

Pest: So now it’s easier to surface the KPI’s you care about. But how do brands determine what the “metrics that matter” are?

Lisa: With this new way to surface info, doing trend analysis and identifying possible outliers for further investigation gets smoother. Let’s say I think the most important metric is engagement on Facebook. As a test, I send similar media-rich content to Facebook and Twitter, and notice retweets are increasing faster than Facebook engagement. Now I can quickly add modules to compare Facebook fan growth with Twitter follower growth to see if the engagement trend is impacting audience size.

Pest: What’s on the analytics wish list? What are brands asking for?

Lisa: The immediate wish list includes incorporating additional metrics from the social networks’ API’s and adding more of our own calculated KPI’s. The SRM is going to surface the KPI’s in the most actionable way possible so users can distinguish the rate at which something is changing and know when to take action. Analytics is evolving as a critical part of the SRM platform, and that’s exciting to be a part of!

What can we say? When you have someone who actually gets this excited about analytics, good things keep getting added to that part of the product.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freedigitalphotos.net

Friday Jul 25, 2014

Customers Don’t Care Who’s In Charge, Just That Somebody Is

You have to wonder sometimes if the average consumer is aware of how much marketers and technology people are talking about customer experience and customer-centricity. Do they think most brands care about their experience? Do they feel like their happiness lies at the very center of everything corporations do?

Probably not.

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” -Kevin Stirtz

But we as businesses are at least increasingly aware of the power, voice, and choice the social revolution has given the customer. And because of that, thoughts are turning to how to use the same technology that’s empowering the public to serve them and meet their needs.

Of course, major corporate organizations don’t naturally drift toward this collective realization and total commitment to putting the customer at the heart of every development and decision. That’s just not the nature of the beast. A customer champion is needed on the inside to alter not just the way things are done, but also the culture in which they’re done.

The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing. -John Russell

Who is this champion? They come bearing many titles; Chief Customer Officer, Chief Experience Officer, Chief Client Officer, CMO With a Renewed Commitment to Customer Experiences, CEO Who Has Seen the Light and Wants to Be Known as the Customer’s Friend, etc. (Okay, I made a couple of those up). What they’re called is less important than their passionate belief that utterly delighted customers positively affect the bottom line.

Then, that passion has to be combined with the leadership skills to affect change in environments often deeply resistant to change. Here’s the baseline, Forrester says over 6% of S&P 500 companies have a CCO, but it’s a position that’s so new, many look on it as an experiment. Tricky turf, and probably not for the weak-willed.

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman down, simply by spending his money somewhere else – Sam Walton

Jeanne Bliss, author of "The Chief Customer Officer," points out 80% of buying decisions come from 3 customer perceptions: experience, reliability and "how did you feel" afterward. We hope you'll take the time to listen to a recent Oracle Social webcast featuring Gannett Chief Digital Officer David Payne, Oracle Chief Customer Officer Jeb Dasteel, and Oracle Social VP Erika Brookes, who tackle this question of who owns the customer. Who is best suited to drive these positive customer perceptions? How can they make the entire org, across department walls, put the customer first? What happens to areas of the business that don’t buy in to customer centricity?

We are always eager to help those brands that are indeed committing to the idea of “happy customer as good business” and that are seeking their own customer champion.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Tuesday Jul 22, 2014

Cut Yourself a Break: Get a Social Management Platform

If you’re a community manager who’s publishing, monitoring, engaging, and analyzing communities on multiple social networks manually and individually, you need a hug.  We’re sure you’re getting by just fine, because you’re a typical superstar CM that possesses multi-disciplinary skills. But at what point do you cut yourself a break and let a social management platform preserve your sanity?

The expectations on you seem to have gone nowhere but up, while the resourcing has either stayed the same or inched up an embarrassingly uninformed amount. A pro-grade social management platform is not exactly a luxury, it’s STEP ONE in any true commitment to social marketing and customer communication.

You know the best practices. You know the right things to do. But your brand is making it quite an uphill climb for you. I can almost guarantee your CMO does not know what it’s like to be a community manager. I can even almost guarantee the person to whom you directly report has no clue what you do, or how you do it, or what it entails. Sooner is better than later to educate them (and no one can do this but you) on how vital social management platforms have become.

Tell them this is what one could be doing for you:

1. Scheduling posts. Lining up the optimum number of posts every day across multiple social networks so fans can get in the habit of consistently seeing content from you.

2. Finding and alerting you to mentions of your brand or unwanted content. Let the platform watch for things that need your attention, otherwise you’re stuck watching screens 24/7…and paranoid.

3. Gathering richer analytics than native gets you. What if your KPI’s aren’t what Facebook thinks they should be? Don’t get buried in numbers, see the ones that matter.

4. Publishing to all of your streams with one click, and from one dashboard. If you’d rather watch a wall of 4 or 5 monitors, and rock 4 or 5 keyboards, knock your lights out.

5. Giving you the quickest way to leverage rich media like video, coupons, polls and quizzes that get higher engagement. Optimizing, posting and promoting a video 5 times on 5 different channels is time you’ll never get back.

6. Targeting your posts across platforms. Seattle doesn’t want to hear about the deal you’re only offering in Dallas. Too much of that irrelevancy, and they won’t want to see anything from you.

7. Integrating with other enterprise systems. If your social marketing is “talking” to your CRM, sales, fulfillment, etc. systems, customers may start to feel like your brand actually knows them!

Even if you enjoy being a social marketing martyr, that doesn’t mean that approach is the most efficient or effective for the company. Encourage your decision-makers to let a social management platform get the repetitive drudgery and busywork off your plate so you can use what makes you particularly valuable, your skills at finding & creating better content and increasing personal engagement with posts.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Friday Jul 18, 2014

LinkedIn Inclusion Closes Chapter 1 of the Oracle Social SRM Platform

With big news having rolled out this week, we turn today’s guest blogging duties over to Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear.

Back in May of 2012, Oracle completed a series of social media acquisitions launching its commitment to enhanced, effective digital customer experiences for brand marketers. Peering into the future, we saw that the age of carpet-bombing consumers with messages urging them to come to the brand was doing as much harm as good. We knew that the future was going to be about meeting customers wherever they are, whenever they’re there, and with personalized, relevant content.

It was clear that the social networks were becoming nothing less than the hubs of public communication.

The option for marketers to ignore social was slipping away, and the Oracle Social Cloud committed itself to building a comprehensive social marketing, engagement, and monitoring technology platform that would make differentiating customer relationships possible. The commitment was our recognition that the customer was in control and that brands would have to change if they wanted to retain customers and deliver outstanding customer experiences.

With Oracle’s subsequent acquisitions of Eloqua, Compendium, Responsys, and BlueKai, which together form the Oracle Marketing Cloud, we were able to offer integrations with the Oracle Social Cloud that moved brands far from yesterday’s point solution technology and into a marketing ecosystem capable of powering tomorrow’s promise of highly personalized and engaged customer experiences.

So this week’s inclusion of LinkedIn to our publishing and engagement capabilities should really come as no surprise given the role LinkedIn is playing for B2B marketers today. Adding 2 members per second has brought it to over 300 million users, a number that’s doubled in the last calendar year with over half of those users outside North America.

This addition of LinkedIn to the Oracle SRM platform is great for our customers, solidifying the platform as the clear choice for B2B marketers. But it’s really just the end of an opening chapter in an amazing marketing revolution story we’re all seeing play out in full Technicolor in this era of digital transformation.

This revolution is about mobile, social, big data, cloud-powered outrageous customer experiences. Recognizing the magnitude of this opportunity is the reason our product has been so rapidly innovating. We have been building new capabilities in concert with our global customers with the aim of helping them deliver best-in-class customer experiences…the kind of post-revolution brand encounters customers have come to expect.

As we continue socially enabling the enterprise, we are excited about the great experiences we can unlock with our partner LinkedIn using the Oracle SRM platform. The future is bright for marketers, and Oracle Social is happy being able to do our part to bring innovation to our customers, working together to write the next chapters.

Photo: freeimages.com

Tuesday Jul 15, 2014

Oracle Social SRM Surfaces the Top Terms Around #WorldCup

So, how did you like that World Cup final? If activity on social is any indication, you were all about it. Facebook reported that 88 million people had over 280 million social interactions around the 1-0 victory of Germany over Argentina. 10.5 million of those people were in the US, 10 million in Brazil, over 7 million in Argentina, and 5 million in Germany.

That breaks the Facebook record for highest level of conversation about a single sporting event, beating out 2013’s Super Bowl, complete with blackout. On Twitter, pretty much the same thing was happening. 32.1 million tweets flew during the match. #WorldCupFinal was used over a million times in 24 hours. And a Twitter record was broken as well, with a peak of 618,725 tweets per minute after the match.

Interesting facts indeed, and a wakeup call for anyone who still might think social is not where the public goes en masse in order to connect, comment and share their emotions around big events, and on a global scale.

Beyond these overall social statistics around the final World Cup match, we wanted to tap into the power of the Oracle SRM platform’s Social Engagement & Monitoring tools to see which terms were surfacing within posts containing #WorldCup. At the first level were terms we would all expect to see…worldcup, win, final, and support.

But after the obvious comes the interesting. When listening in English during the run of the entire World Cup. The top terms of interest were:

  • #joinin (FIFA’s official campaign)
  • Fractured (as in Neymar’s back fracture)
  • Neymar (as in the guy who’s back got fractured)
  • Goalkeeper (Tim Howard’s 16 saves vs. Belgium)
  • Adidas (as related to Lionel Messi getting the Adidas Golden Ball)
  • Messi

Who doesn’t love a good adjective? These were the top descriptors used in #WorldCup conversations:

  • Epic
  • Incredible
  • Proud
  • Great
  • Crazy

We’re sure Brazilians had descriptors of their own which thankfully did not make the top 5.

We then turned our social listening to what Spanish and German speaking users were saying in their tweets hashtagged #WorldCup during the final 2 matches. In Spanish it was:

  • #allin (Adidas’ campaign hashtag)
  • @listerineglobal (the result of a dominating Listerine tie-in campaign)
  • Messi

In German, we heard:

  • Stern (rapid sellout of the winning German shirt with 4 stars)
  • Stolz (German for “proud”)
  • Schweinsteiger (Germany’s Bastian Schwinsteiger)

Sure, we looked up these statistics just for fun. Kinda makes you want to party with us, right? But having just been reminded once again of the power of social and the sheer volume of the conversations happening on it at any one time, we’re also reminded that brand marketers are served very well when they can go deeper than surface-level term analysis, learning what specifics their audience cares most about. Learn that, and you have the ability to craft content and campaigns primed and ready for open ears.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Friday Jul 11, 2014

Did You Hear That? The World Just Got Smaller

Oracle Social Cloud Expands Global Language Resources to Help Businesses Listen to Customers Worldwide

Do you speak Bahasa? Then we have good news for you. Customers of the Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM) solution, brought to you by the good folks at the Oracle Social Cloud, can now listen in that language so brands will know what you are and aren’t happy about.

That’s also true for Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish. So Oracle now supports 18, count ‘em, 18 languages with advanced keyword and Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) listening.

Most of us are familiar with keyword listening, even advanced keyword listening that helps separate signal from noise so you get fewer results that you don’t want. But package that with Latent Semantic Analysis, and now you’ve really got something. LSA takes what’s known about terms and how they’re usually used so that context and likely intent can be factored in. You can probably imagine how this dance of terms and intent differs from language to language.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Oracle also offers Natural Language Processing (NLP) in Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, with more languages to come. NLP helps you get to the sentiment being expressed in the things you’re hearing across social, forums, blogs, sites, etc., we’re talking access to over 700 million messages daily. And the Oracle SRM itself gives you user interfaces and publishing in 31 languages.

But back to today’s announcement. Organizations that operate globally can’t just stay deaf to what people all over that globe are saying. The personalized, localized customer experiences modern marketing brings wouldn’t be possible. Oracle (quite the global brand itself) is committed not just to effective digital listening for brands, but also to extending that listening capability into every market you’d care to penetrate.

Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear says, “With the global social networking audience reaching 2.33 billion by 2017, there’s no doubt that successful businesses need to be globally social. Removing language barriers is critical to improving an organization’s social listening, learning and engagement capabilities.”

There are all kinds of reasons to listen to what people are saying. You can learn what’s going on with your products, with your industry, and with your competition. Today, location and language simply cannot be a barrier to the customer awareness so critical to winning customer experiences. Now that you can listen in these additional languages, just don’t forget to act on what you learn.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Tuesday Jul 08, 2014

Marketing Technology Have You Dazed & Confused?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the growing necessity for brands to have someone filling the role of Marketing Technologist.  Obviously, this wouldn’t be a growing necessity if marketing technology weren’t literally overwhelming management teams.

It’s not that these management teams are unaware, inexperienced, disconnected, aren’t digital natives, or didn’t finish high enough in their class at Harvard. The speed at which technological change is hitting us has everyone back on their heels…including the consumer. How many times have you heard someone say they aren’t on certain social network because they “just can’t handle them all”?

And yet, maybe even unfairly, the public increasingly expects their brands to flawlessly execute the predictive meeting of their needs, instant response and gratification in customer service, and 100% relevancy in the content they’re served…and on whatever channel they might be, 24/7/365 globally.

Yeesh. No wonder there’s the urge to employ new marketing technology as fast as it comes. But because it does come so fast, and because there are so many companies in the space, with disparate products & components of the digital marketing solution, many a corporate eye is glazed over with confusion and doubt. Confusion and doubt leads to not moving forward. Many brands have expensive tech they aren’t even using.

As my great grandfather Stiles never once told me, “Son, too many choices will make your head explode.” So as you’re trying to decide what marketing technology to embrace, consider these things:

  • Whatever tech you adopt, it’s probably going to call for change in strategy, processes, personnel, and budgeting. It’s not like getting a taco from a food truck.
  • You generally get what you pay for. There are plenty of cheap choices out there that will keep you in the minor leagues.
  • Things on the rapid rise like the volume of consumer data, mobile, Internet of Things, cloud, collaborative purchasing (social friend recommendations on steroids), etc. means you can’t sit and wait “until the dust settles.” You will choke on dust.
  • How much fun is a 1000-piece puzzle if none of the pieces fit together? Look to a vendor that has all the integrated pieces you can add on as you grow. It’s the only path to seamless cross-channel customer experiences.
  • Shy away from buying the product without the service. Maximize what you get.
  • Establish an innovation lab for testing or piloting potential new tech products like the one Mayur Gupta has at Kimberly-Clark. It lets you date before you get married.

The proverbial journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step. Get in touch with your biggest pain point. What’s currently causing the biggest disconnect between your brand and your customers? Since marketing is becoming dominantly about user experience, that’s as good a place to start as any. Then resist chasing squirrels. Examine potential marketing technology vendors not just for what they offer today, but whether or not they have the big picture integrated parts of the whole you’ll need as you build.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Friday Jul 04, 2014

The Buyer Revolution: Let Freedom Ring

Social media truly did amount to a consumer revolution. And if you don’t believe that, simply think back to what life was like before the revolution.

The mantra was “buyer beware.” It was a battle cry that meant brands were largely out to trick you, sell you garbage. If you fell for it, it was your fault for not being smart enough to see through the charade. But even more importantly, “buyer beware” was a pre-emptive warning to remind you that you, as the customer, had little to no recourse if you mistakenly believed in the brand. Gotcha.

Your choices in a particular type of product were slim. And your sources of information that might lead to you discovering competitors and options were limited. In nearly every category, you were aware of two or three of the “big guys.” And, of course, the big guys were barely distinguishable from each other. Why would they need to be?

And not only did brands only care what customers thought to the extent they could be manipulated, they built brick walls, barriers and hurdles between themselves and the customer that were so well-crafted and impenetrable, they remain obstacles to change inside enterprises to this very day.

Fast forward to July 4, 2014. A single consumer voice is connected to other single voices such that it can amount to millions. A circle of influence of about 8 people is now one of tens of thousands, or more. The consumer who formerly could only see what was nearby or marketed to them can now proactively seek out everything that’s available on the planet…with a click.

The revolution has been won for the consumer…but ALSO for the brands.

Brands will now live and die by the way they treat customers. They will rise and fall based on their reputations and the extent to which existing customers are willing to proudly recommend them. They will be forced to get better and be better. The luxury of putting out a poor product is fading away. The maker will be exposed.

But most of all, brands can now pursue the benefits of truly knowing their customers, sincerely caring what they want & need, actually wanting to be in communication with them. Today’s mobile, multi-device, always on, socially connected customers are accustomed to not being ignored, put off, given the runaround, or abused. They are free.

The buyer revolution switched the game from transaction to experience. The experience IS the product. Brands no longer don’t reply. Brands no longer blindly send automated messages. Brands no longer make the customer wait weeks for a resolution. If something is wrong, brands are quick to make it right for the customer. Brands are keenly aware of every previous encounter that customer has had with them for context.

Of course none of that is true. Whether it’s from lack of leadership or lack of the proper tech tools, plenty of brands are still fumbling around, mired in how things used to be before the social media revolution. The customers, however, are not stuck. Their freedom is ringing loud and clear.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Tuesday Jul 01, 2014

NOT the Usual List: What Brands Are Doing Wrong on Social

That title assumes brands are doing something wrong on social. Are they? Clearly, the vast majority of consumers are connected to the brands they use on social and actively and regularly engage with them, sending revenue skyrocketing.

Oh wait. That’s not happening. Stats tell us while 86% of us marketing pros have Liked a brand on Facebook, 58% of consumers have. 61% of marketers follow a brand on Twitter. You know how many consumers do that? 12%.

We’ve seen and read the standard, often-blogged list of brand social mistakes; focusing on follower quantity over quality, posting too much, not using images, blah blah blah. But here are some errors brands might be tripping over that don’t get nearly as much talk.

Scaring employees away from social by squawking like Chicken Little:

Really? You don’t know why they aren’t using their personal channels to amplify the brand’s message when there’s ZERO to be gained and you exude it will be the end of their professional lives if they mess up?

Thinking the world is as narcissistic about your brand as you are:

Customers care about one thing (maybe two). They care that your product works, keeps working, and solves a need they have. Past that, they might care how socially responsible your company is. Post accordingly.

Staying on platforms that just aren’t working for you:

If you can’t resource/staff 7 social networks, don’t be on 7 social networks. Yes, the advice is to be where your customers are. But if a channel is all tumbleweeds, or if you’re on it and looking bad, focus on getting it right on fewer networks.

Trying to be cool:

Don’t try to talk young if you aren’t. Don’t try to “tap” into what’s hot with a younger demo if your brand isn’t sincerely all about it, as in a “Red Bull” kind of way. Patronizing not only rarely works, it offends people.

Flying with the lemmings:

Remember when Oreo did that Super Bowl thing and then seemingly every brand in the world was attempting an “Oreo” moment? Yeah, think of something original that can be uniquely yours and not a me-too.

Treating social marketing like you’re grabbing things at a yard sale:

If you’re going to go the “potpourri of point solution, least expensive, non-integrated tools” route, get the aspirin ready. It’ll never give you the stability for today’s marketing a fully integrated social management platform will.

Listening in 100% defensive mode:

Proving the customer wrong is not the intent of listening on social. Keeping them at arm’s length is not an achievement. If you cared about and acted on what you heard, you’d be indestructible. Oh, and sticking with downright abusive customer service experiences…that’s going to kill you. No, really. That’s going to knock you completely out of the game one day.

Expecting the one poor schmuck you have running all your social channels 24/7/365 to possess six highly specialized, skilled disciplines and execute in all those areas…and for near entry-level money.

‘Nuff said.

Getting bent out of shape when your meager social marketing efforts don’t directly result in customers pounding on your door, waving cash in your face.

Don’t even talk about how your social isn’t a success until you’ve set clearly defined and reasonable goals for it, and have a way to credibly measure the metrics that speak to those goals.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com


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