Friday Jul 19, 2013

Involver to Oracle: Gold Rush to Modern Marketing

With the migration nearly complete from legacy Involver apps to the Oracle Social Relationship Management platform, we thought this would be a good time to hear from Mr. Involver himself, Rahim Fazal, to both commemorate Involver’s incredible accomplishments and to celebrate the powerful modern marketing capabilities now possible with Oracle’s integrated marketing.

kid minerOracle has nearly finalized the sun-setting of the legacy Involver free applications package. Why? Most notably, because in the last five years, the market has matured and so have the needs of our customers.

Pre-Engagement Era (the Gold Rush of 2009)

Early 2009 was an explosive time for the social marketing world and, in turn, my company Involver. People all over the world were signing up for Facebook at a rate that tripled the size of the user-base in just twelve months. Brands naturally followed suit by launching company fan pages because as any good brand knows, you want to be where the people are.

Involver, which at the time was a ten-person startup in San Francisco, recognized a glaring gap in the arsenal of social marketers. Sure it was easy enough to set up a fan page, but once activated, there really wasn’t a lot for users to do there. To us, these pages looked like blank canvases. So we decided to build a suite of applications for marketers to add richer content to their pages, like YouTube, Twitter and blog posts, or interactive widgets like polls or surveys.

Borrowing from one of our friends and advisers, Ian Schafer, we too believed brands shouldn’t “advertise” to their customers, they should give their fans engaging tools that could help them tell friends about the brand. Brands agreed, and in large numbers. When Involver was acquired by Oracle in 2012, there were over 1 million pages using these applications with more than 2 billion fan connections!

Engagement Era (present day)

In the last few years, as companies have accumulated thousands and thousands of fans, marketers have been working feverishly to figure out what to do with all these people – a great problem to have by the way. And as the expectations of those fans have changed and grown more sophisticated, so have the needs of social marketers.

Simply providing a tool to publish the occasional YouTube clip or launching a contest just isn’t enough.

Marketers want more active engagement with their social media efforts:

  • They want to listen and respond to conversations
  • They want to schedule publishing across many sites and pages
  • They want systems and workflows to be integrated so the right people in the organization can interact with fans and followers using the best tools
  • They want to anticipate the needs of the individual, so they can deliver a more personalized customer experience
  • And much more (much, much more. You should see our road map!)

Given the expanded and every-expanding needs of our customers, we joined forces with Oracle last summer along with our friends Vitrue and Collective Intellect (love you both). Together, and in close collaboration with our peers across the various Oracle applications teams, we have launched Social Relationship Management. SRM is a fully integrated social marketing system designed for modern marketing and is an order of magnitude more advanced than our individual legacy products (the old “the sum is greater than its parts” analogy).

Social Relationship Management provides:

  • Listening, Engagement and Analytics (SE&M)
  • Publishing/Moderation/Content and Apps (SM)
  • Workflow & Automation and Enterprise Integration (SE&M/SM + integrations with known enterprise platforms such as Eloqua, Rightnow, ATG, Siebel, and Fusion.)

We’ve come along way as an industry and as a company since launching the first fan page five years ago. Today, we’re lucky to be part of a much bigger team, a much bigger vision, and a product set that has allowed us to progress from providing tools for fan pages to providing an integrated enterprise marketing system that not only meets the needs of marketers today, but that can scale to meet the needs of marketers tomorrow.

That’s the kind of innovation and forward motion that’s incredibly exciting for all of us, and we welcome anyone migrating from the Involver products to the Oracle SRM platform with us!

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday May 24, 2013

Facebook Tabs and Apps: Your Page’s Attractions

swingsThe last time you went to an amusement park, did you just walk around and look at the rides, or did you actually ride them?  Seems like a silly question, but it’s not quite enough to just go somewhere. You want to experience something once you’re there. In the amusement park that is your brand’s Facebook Page, Tabs and Apps are your attractions.

Because Facebook is often described as a platform in “permanent beta,” Tabs have changed and evolved. In the olden days, they were always visible to the left. Brands could set a default landing page using Tabs so new visitors would see a promoted offer or other desired Tab.

Then came Timeline. Tabs became…boxes, which fell quickly out of view as a visitor scrolled down the Timeline. PageLever reported tab engagement dropped 53% since Timeline’s full implemention. Most thoughts and efforts turned to the News Feed, since that’s where users far and away spent the bulk of their Facebook time. Studies showed only 2% of fans would return to a brand’s Timeline after liking the Page.

Wow. No wonder many started ringing the death knell for Tabs.

Facebook was nudging brands away from controlled, one-size-fits-all Tabs experiences and toward one-on-one fan interaction and relevant content creation for the News Feed. But it’s hardly an either/or proposition. Well-crafted Tabs experiences give brands something to draw people toward via the News Feed. The News Feed can be the barker that gets users into the attraction.

And attractions are what Tabs and Apps should be. Done well, they can be real engagement monsters. Content for the News Feed is of prime importance. But usually, it’s a quick look from the user and then it’s on to the next item. Tabs are a way to not just get them, but hold them. A video on the News Feed is good. A video that’s episode 1, directing people to a YouTube app where the whole series can be watched is great.

A quality social relationship management platform is most likely going to give you a nice menu of Tabs content that can be easily customized and implemented. To give you an idea of the many “attractions” available, Oracle Social offers:

Basic:

  • Calendar
  • Causes
  • Coupons
  • Events
  • Posts
Interactive:
  • Comments
  • Gifts
  • Google+
  • Google Map
  • Like
  • Poll
  • Quiz
  • Twitter Follow
  • View to View
  • Like Gate
  • Pinterest Follow

Feeds:

  • MailChimp
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Instagram Feed
  • Pinterest Board
  • Pinterest Feed
  • Twitter Live

Forms:

  • Custom Form
  • Newsletter
  • Signup
  • Survey
  • Sweepstakes
  • Video and Photo Contest

Media:

  • Banner
  • Fan Media
  • Flickr
  • MP3
  • Photo Albums
  • Photos
  • Slide 
  • Spotify
  • Videos
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube
  • YouTube Channel
  • Instagram Moderation
  • YouTube Embed

Custom:

  • Flash
  • HTML
  • iFrame
  • JSON
  • CSS Override
  • Fan Counter

As you can see, there’s not a lot you can’t execute as a brand within the Facebook environment, where most social users are spending their time.

Looming on the horizon is yet another possible change to brand Timelines in which the Tabs boxes return to actual tabs, as they are already on personal profiles. Will users discover your attractions on the Timeline itself? Far more likely they’ll see what you have to offer as you actively promote these Facebook Tabs (perhaps with some paid effort behind it) in your News Feed content. Your barker has to give them enough to make them want to come in for the ride.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

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