Merging Social Accounts: What We Learned This Weekend

Guest Post by Erika Brookes

Girl in CornerWe learned that it’s not always as easy as you think it’s going to be. While it’s widely accepted that merging multiple owned Facebook Pages that are duplicating communities and putting out the same type of content is a best practice, actually pulling it off without rattling fans is a trickier proposition.

Facebook is nice and clear about how to merge Facebook Pages. Although content is not carried over, Likes from the pages you’re merging are. So you can imagine the surprise when such fans start seeing posts in their News Feed from a page they don’t believe they ever Liked. One community member accurately likened it to having your bank come under another bank’s brand name. The Facebook Page changes to the new brand, just like your debit card, emails, signs and other communication.

This weekend we did our merge. The Facebook communities of Vitrue and Involver were pulled into one community, Oracle Social. Could we have handled it better? Oh yeah.

Our intent was to make sure, to the fullest extent possible, that the fans of the Vitrue and Involver brand pages were well-informed about the pending page merges in ADVANCE of the merge. While many were aware that Oracle acquired the three companies, many were not.

We learned from fan feedback that we should have sent notifications MUCH earlier to make the brand Page merge crystal clear and to answer any questions. That was our bad, our responsibility and we apologize for Oracle Social showing up in your News Feed if you were not aware that it was a result of your fandom of Vitrue or Involver. It was our job to make you aware well in advance.

Some felt they had never Liked the fan Pages of Vitrue or Involver, so they were understandably upset (some cultures may call it “fit to be tied”) when they found themselves fans of Oracle Social. One thing to consider is that since 2009, brands and developers have used and enjoyed free Involver tab apps like Twitter, RSS and YouTube (1.2 million of which are currently active), which included an opt-in Liking the Involver Page. Often, when Liking happens in a manner outside of the traditional clicking of a Like button on a brand Page, it’s easy to forget a Page was indeed Liked.

Lastly, a few felt that their Like of the Page had been “bought.” It was not. No fans or Likes were separately purchased. Yes, the companies and the social properties of Vitrue and Involver were acquired by Oracle. Those brands are now being coordinated into the larger Oracle brand. In social media, that means those brands are being integrated into the Oracle Social community.

So what now? We apologize and apply lessons learned. We learned that you not only have to communicate thoroughly and clearly, but you have to communicate well in advance of any actionable items that will affect fans. We’re more than willing to walk straight to the woodshed when we deserve it.

Going forward, the social team here is dedicated to facilitating content, discussion and sharing around social for marketers, agencies, IT stakeholders and social staffs, including community managers. We anticipate Oracle Social being the premier gathering place for true social innovators as we move into social’s exciting next phase of development. Inevitably, some will still feel they are fans of the Page in error. While we hate to see you go, you may unlike the Page if it’s not relevant or useful to you.

Let’s continue to contribute, participate, foster our desire to learn, and move forward together positively and constructively - both for current fans of the community and the many fans to come.

Comments:

So "some" or "a few" people got upset. Get over it, people. As for Oracle, fair enough that you want to play nice and apologize, I get the PR needed to smooth things over, but how about less focus on these few #firstworldproblem nincompoops and a word or two, instead, about the MANY who are doing just fine with this change. Really, we're okay - honestly.

Try including measurement of the neutral/positive sentiment. I bet it's much much higher than the negatives.

Posted by Victor on November 12, 2012 at 08:40 PM EST #

I was one of the people that was vocal on your FB page, and I DO appreciate this post. I think the thing that got so many people's hackles up is that it appeared to violate what Social Media is supposed to be founded on: transparency and communication. Add to that the multitude of people who never remember liking a page or using an app... it would have been great if you'd explained this all way ahead of time.

Timing really matters, and a lot of the people on your page are Social Marketing folks. It all would have blown over immediately if this post was put up Saturday. I suppose we all learn in these situations. Kudos for coming through with this.

Posted by Amy Tobin on November 12, 2012 at 09:05 PM EST #

Yep. Some of the best lessons are learned the hard way.

You're forgiven. Mostly. ;-)

And thank you for this post and clarifying. I'm sure it's been a loooooong week for you. ;-)

Posted by Mark on November 21, 2012 at 11:34 PM EST #

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