Tuesday Oct 01, 2013

Cloud Social: What’s So Awesome About It?

wowWell, it’s not like your company owns Facebook or Twitter, so the notion you can control and execute social “on-site” was always a non-starter.  What you can do is embrace and throw your C-suite weight behind Cloud Social…integrating social relationship management, social data, and social collaboration with other enterprise applications in the Cloud for real-time, actionable insight.

To do this effectively enough to revolutionize your customer experience and make them forever, undyingly loyal to your brand, there must be an overall adoption of Cloud computing and social’s place in it. That’s happening. But is it happening in your organization?

Respondents to a TechInsights Report indicated the cloud is maturing in the enterprise, with IT decision makers achieving better results, faster deployments and lower costs than expected. That was true across Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Given that, it’s no surprise we see increases in Cloud spending. Those using Cloud for 4+ years are nearly 6x more likely to report increasing cloud spending by over 30% this year. Cloud spending even amongst small to midsized businesses is projected to rise to $95 billion by 2015.

If you’re reaction to that is, “Goodie for them,” it might be time to run down the primary advantages of shifting to the Cloud.

  • Cost Savings: more power, speed and storage than you might otherwise be able to afford.
  • Ability to Innovate: cited as the top benefit by US respondents. It’s amazing what you can do when time and money are freed up.
  • Security: often cited as a concern, it’s actually a plus as cloud providers are often better equipped to guard data. Is your current on-site security flawless?
  • Disaster Avoidance: data is automatically backed-up daily and can be restored seamlessly.
  • Smarter Resourcing: stats show up to 80% of IT budget are bogged down in routine maintenance. Is that really where you want your money and the time of your CIO/CTO to go?
  • Options Aplenty: go with a private cloud, public cloud or hybrid depending on your needs and comfort level. The Cloud can scale as you grow.
  • Headache Reduction: fewer worries about updates, maintenance, support, and deployment.
  • Mobility: stakeholders can get what they need from the cloud any time, from anywhere, on any device, making collaboration downright modern.
  • Green: Using Cloud for storage uses at least 30% less energy than on-site servers.

Arguments against enjoying these kinds of enterprise efficiencies are getting harder to find. And where social is specifically concerned, the socially enabled enterprise is hardly possible without it. That’s a lot of incredibly valuable, freely offered customer data to be left chugging along in the slow, expensive lane.

Photo: David Siqueira, stock.xchng

Friday May 17, 2013

Data Adoption Must Come Before Social ROI

On May 14, Social Media Today hosted the webinar “What Is Social ROI Made of? New Revenue or Reduced Costs?” with a panel consisting of Oracle VP Product Strategy Erika Brookes, MarketShare CEO Wes Nichols, and V3 Integrated Marketing CEO Shelly Kramer. Based on the number of retweets, things were said that really hit home. Below are some of the discussion’s highlights.

go team gorillaEB: If you’re looking for social ROI, you have to start with a strategy. Big data and little data must then connect back to that strategy.

SK: The C-level feels as long as we’re on Twitter and have a Facebook page, social is covered. When you ask what their goals for it are and how it ties back to their strategy, they have an “Oh my God” moment.

EB: Data fuels the belief that with all this digital data, surely we can do a better job of telling the story of what works and what doesn’t work. True, but you have to know what the intent was for getting into social in the first place.

WN: Companies operate in swim lanes. Direct mail is a lane. PR is a lane. Social is a lane. Each lane reports its own ROI, often self-serving, which doesn’t help the CFO. It’s critical to know how these lanes interact with each other.

SK: Marketers know what needs to be done. They know what’s important. But they aren’t staffed or resourced to collect the data, analyze it, and leverage it.

EB: It’s not just about marketing anymore. It’s about how do I attribute across the company. That’s where the data problem grows enormously and the call for marketers to be prepared goes up. The CMO has to collaborate with IT and sales.

WN: What used to be done by marketers isn’t possible anymore. You have to have the technology infrastructure to process the data. Most don’t have that set up internally.

EB: People have legacy tech, then buy new tech, and those things aren’t hinging together. That has to happen for real time insight. Marketers must share with IT the metrics on which they’ll be measured. That’s what facilitates actionable decision-making.

WN: It’s not so much a sales funnel anymore, it’s a pinball machine. A social post might bounce you to a video. The video might bounce you to a search. The search might bounce you to a coupon. The coupon might bounce you into the store to buy something.

SK: Even smart marketers still think a 40k/year person running the social channels has it covered. That’s far from the case. Job descriptions want a digital strategist, social strategist, email strategist, content strategist, and business analyst all rolled into one person…for maybe 70k. That’s craziness.

EB: Even at 100k you won’t find someone who does all those aspects really well, because they’re very distinct functions and disciplines.

SK: Expectations are totally out of whack with what they want to pay somebody. Just pushing out your content is not integrating social into business objectives toward any hope of ROI.

WN: There’s no correlation or causation between vanity metrics and P&L or ROI impact. Once they see the lift impact of social, they’ll allocate for staffing. Until then, they’re going to keep dabbling.

EB: Marketers want this. But are they really prepared for the wholesale changes required inside the organization?

WN: You have to look broad to look narrow. You have to look at the ROI of marketing to get to the ROI of social. You can’t measure at a what’s-under-your-nose campaign level.

SK: Content marketing is so not new. But we’re struggling to get clients to understand the importance of content strategy and how that, SEO, et al works to drive leads. We’re struggling to get clients to understand the importance of data to drive business strategy.

EB: Companies realize they’ve built audience, but now how do you turn that into engagement and sales? More marketers are asking for help turning those opportunities into something the rest of the organization can activate upon. CMO tenures are increasing, not declining, because they’re thinking broadly about social and tech, and the data is there to tell success stories.

WN: CMO’s can be at the executive table, armed with proof of impact. Otherwise they get relegated to the kids’ table. Being numbers-oriented doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Analytics can show the impact of creative and thereby get more funding for it. But without numbers, marketing looks soft and thus an easy place to make cuts.

SK: If you try to do this on the cheap, you’re going to get what you pay for and you’re going to get what you deserve. You have to be in it to win it.

WN: You’re CEO has to embrace the changes that are underway. Marketing is not yell and sell, it’s customer dialogue and relationship building, leveraging social.

EB: Oracle did a study with The Economist and found companies with cross collaboration across departments, taking advantage of disruptive technologies, are the most successful. Marketers can start the dialogue internally about data sources and the metrics you’ll be measured on. Get the buy-in and structure in place.

WN: We can prove the impact of marketing is larger than what they’re currently getting credit for. You need the tools to defend and grow marketing investments. Analytics is like electricity running through the whole organization. It will one day be as taken for granted as electricity.

Photo: stock.xchng, Glenn Pebley

Tuesday May 14, 2013

Can Social Marketing Really Get You the Growth You Want?

big benAre the changes social and mobile are bringing to business a disruption or opportunity? Oracle Social Sr. Director Richard Beattie discussed at CloudWorld London how it’s both, but the end result is a better understanding of the customer, which in turn leads to the up arrows businesses love to see on charts. Below are Richard’s thoughts:

Welcome to business in the age of the empowered consumer. Always connected, always on the go, always informed. It’s every company’s new reality.

The rise of social (and increasingly mobile) has fundamentally changed the “customer.” Today, they live in a multichannel, multi-device digitally connected world where they can interact across multiple touch points globally and in real-time. They’re using social to connect, engage, learn, share and communicate like never before. And their expectations of businesses and the customer experience are higher. They know you have a wealth of data about them, so they expect you to use it for better overall experiences.

Social has been transformational. It’s made us view the force of “word-of-mouth” in a new and powerful light. At any moment, millions of social conversations are happening worldwide, many of those about your business.


  • Nielsen found Americans spend 121 billion minutes per month on social networks.
  • 91% of online adults use social regularly (Experian 2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark & Trend Report).
  • One fifth of all online time is spent on social, the #1 online activity (eMarketer).
  • 40% spend more time socializing online than they do face-to-face (AllTwitter).
  • 250 million photos are uploaded per day on Facebook.
  • Almost 40% of consumers have tweeted about a brand.
  • 58% have Liked a brand, 41% have shared content about a brand.
  • 38% of online consumers follow retailers through one or more social sites. 

Social lets businesses have relationships with customers at scale. But being able to realize the full potential of that promise hinges on having the right technology partner. Social is the “killer app” for service, commerce, etc. due to its relevance with how customers want to interact with brands. An integrated technology platform must be in place to truly transform the customer experience.

Social can hurt or help your business, amplifying both positive and negative experiences. The key to making sure those experiences are positive is integrating systems and strategies across the enterprise. Because social is complex and ever evolving, your tech partner should be uniquely qualified to deploy social as a seamless add-on to existing enterprise applications, with the ability to grow and adapt when and as needed.

Knowing the customer, parsing all of the holistic data that’s available, using that to quickly respond and improve the overall experience, those are the steps that lead to brand advocates and loyalists that seed real and measurable growth.

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Apr 12, 2013

Mad Men is Just a Show: How to Be the CMO of the Future

baby macLife has changed, and is still in the process of changing for the CMO.  The marketing opportunities of social, of emerging technologies, of mobile, the rising importance of content, the addition of social data to big data, and how social is changing the enterprise experience have all evolved the required skillset of the position. Since these consumer behaviors are highly unlikely to reverse, I picked the brain of Oracle VP Product Management for Cloud Social Erika Brookes for a look at what today’s CMO should seek to fully understand going forward.

The Customer Owns Your Brand

  • Understand the customer is now in charge and should be the focus. Their expectation is to be respected and treated well. Anything less disappoints.
  • Understand that phenomenal products and services, and personalized, hyper-attentive customer service is the new marketing.
  • Understand social is how the public is choosing to engage with each other and brands, and has kicked word-of-mouth into overdrive. The public is talking about you.
  • Understand social is not a megaphone for ads. Try to internalize how mistrustful of push messaging people are and that the path to drawing attention is to provide something of real value.
  • Understand you’ve got to lead crowd-pleasing content creation efforts, or find people who do know how to entertain/inform.

The Marketer Must Speak API

  • Understand you can no longer be comfortable in what you don’t know. You have to jump into technology head-on, knowing how it will deliver business value.
  • Understand you’ll be collaborating with the CIO and IT to leverage technological advantages faster than ever. You must have a voice on tech matters and implementation.
  • Understand the unprecedented gold mine of social data that, married with enterprise and 3rd party data, can paint an actionable picture of the customer.
  • Understand the importance of your brand’s mobile experience and how fast it’s becoming the primary way social is accessed.
  • Understand the cloud as the best technology practice for gathering, managing, analyzing and acting upon big data.

Know the Science Behind the Art

  • Understand campaigns should be built around what the consumer has shown you, through data, they like.
  • Understand not just social marketing, but social selling, social commerce, social service, social HR, social recruiting, and social collaboration.
  • Understand the value of listening, and how to extract worthwhile data from the noise.
  • Understand all of the social channels and platforms available to you, which targets are using them and how so appropriate strategies, messaging and measurement can be crafted for each.
  • Understand you have to keep moving toward proving the ROI behind the spend.

You Will Likely Conduct an Internal Symphony

  • Understand the changes going on inside the organization. Your role is expanding.
  • Understand that an unprecedented collaboration of people, processes and technology is being called for, and it’s probably you that must conduct that symphony.
  • Understand you have to communicate and align with sales for consistent brand and consumer experiences.
  • Understand you’ll play a large role in finding the technology partner to insure effective execution of social, a single vendor that offers every piece of the puzzle.
  • Understand that even in huge business enterprises, agility offers a competitive advantage and should be aspired to.

Below are some additional resources on the changing role of the CMO that might help you get to the future sooner rather than later.

Webinar with Oracle SVP Product Development for Cloud-Social Reggie Bradford and Forrester lead analyst David Cooperstein.

Social Spotlight Blog: Scandal! The CMO/CIO Relationship Revealed.

Video: “The changing role of the CMO.” Argyle Executive Forum’s 2013 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum (New York).

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Mar 15, 2013

Social Insights: Katie’s Got a Problem

The following is based on a presentation given by Oracle VP Product Strategy JP Saunders at Oracle CloudWorld.  Check the dates to see when CloudWorld is in a city near you.

Katie’s got a problem, and depending on how you handle it, she may have two problems. If you’re set up to have social insights differentiate your brand by improving her customer experience, everything will be fine. If you’re not, Katie won’t be impressed and will be more than happy to tell friends about it.

Katie’s been a loyal customer for years and has made several purchases. She’s also “regularly active” on social. Her daughter’s birthday is in 2 days and she’s trying to get the present she wants.

Most customers still turn first to a brand’s web site help. Whether she Googles the issue or goes right to your support page, she winds up in your self-service portal. She can’t find her answer quickly or easily. So she initiates a service request. Her reward…an automated email saying she’ll get a response. 24-hrs later, still no answer and her daughter isn’t getting any younger.

Now she goes public, posting the question to your Facebook Page with a likely frustrated tone. Typically, Facebook’s managed by Marketing or PR, so that’s who sees her cry for help. The fan base now watching, they tell Katie support will be alerted. Marketing emails support and, you guessed it, another service request is generated. Katie’s having a poor experience and the organization looks confused.

There’s a better way. Katie couldn’t self-serve because she couldn’t find what she was looking for, or it wasn’t there. Social offers the chance to go beyond FAQs and leverage the collective knowledge of your customers. What if she were encouraged to pose her question to other customers so they could solve her problem? Is that better than a “we’ll get back to you someday” email?

When Katie provided an email to get help, you could have asked her to authenticate with one of her existing social accounts. Studies suggest this lowers friction and abandonment rates, but what it does for you is build a social profile of your customers. You don’t have to wait until she’s on Facebook to start collecting social profile data.

When Katie generated a service request, existing social data on her could have helped. You’d know how influential she is on social, you’d be able to prioritize and customize your response to her, she could be asked for her communication preferences, and no matter what touch point she used, you would recognize her as “Katie, your customer.”

If Katie initiated a service request on your site with email, then she went to your Facebook Page where she was authenticated differently, you wouldn’t know this was the same person. The Community Manager wouldn’t know a service request had already been opened. Now Katie’s had a bad experience and there are redundant service requests.

Integration is the key to the entire organization knowing who Katie is. A structure should be in place that manages customer interactions as they cross departments. Social data is tied into CRM data. The conversation suite tracking Katie’s Facebook conversation is tied to the service department. Interdepartmental emails give way to automated holistic toolsets.

Marketing forwards her issue to service with a click, context and content preserved. The handoff to service is tracked. When service resolves the issue, the system updates so everybody knows where things stand with Katie. You’ve improved Katie’s experience so that she remains a loyal, happy customer. And you have better efficiencies and fewer headaches in your organization.

Now Katie can go brag to everyone she’s connected with on social about how great you are. No problem.



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