Thursday Aug 27, 2015

Tumblr Joins Expanding Lineup of Social Properties Supported by Oracle Social’s SRM Platform

Big news: Tumblr is joining Oracle Social’s SRM Platform! 

Tumblr is much more than your average micro-blogging site. In today's image-focused, socially driven environment, Tumblr is gaining in importance with brands. As our partner NBC Sports noted in AdWeek, "Tumblr is a visually rich, social-friendly platform" that they found a "perfect" place for SuperBowl content. According to Tumblr, there are 251.8 million blogs publishing 80 million posts in 16 different languages PER DAY on Tumblr. Unlike other social media websites, you aren’t limited by the format of your content; you can post text, photos, links, music, or videos to your blog. By integrating Tumblr into Oracle Social’s SRM, our customers have a tremendous opportunity to expand their brands into new markets and engage with customers in new ways, all through one platform.

What This Means

Publish: You will be able to add and manage Tumblr accounts from the same page as your other social media channels.

You’ll be able to create posts in the same manner as any other social network. This will make your social media manager’s life better, as it will be easier to create consistent posts across your social profiles.

Analyze: You’ll also be able to analyze your content to determine how well it is performing - not just on the Tumblr site, but compared to your other social media platforms as well.

For example, if you decided to run a “Summer Fun” social media campaign across your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Tumblr accounts, you can monitor the performance of those posts using the SRM.

This unique capability will allow you to see the entire picture of your social media campaigns - not just your performance on individual posts.

Although we have that too.

With the addition of Tumblr to the SRM lineup, Oracle Social Cloud now supports eight social platforms (with more coming soon): Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Youtube, Weibo, and Tumblr. According to eMarketer, by the end of 2015, almost 1/3 of the global population will be using a social media website regularly - and the SRM will make it easier for you to reach these people through one integrated platform.

For more information on how to add Tumblr to your account, click here.

Wednesday Apr 29, 2015

Social Media Case Study: Head Case Designs

Doug White, CMO, Ecell Global

It’s all fun and games to talk about social marketing strategy, but when push comes to shove, we learn the most from real life experience. We spoke to Douglas White, the CMO of Ecell Global (which owns and operates Head Case Designs) about what works for them in social media marketing.

Who Is Head Case Designs?

They create personalized cases for your mobile device. Founded in 2005 in England, the company has over 350 employees around the world, with a strong presence in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan. According to their website, “Head Case is the global leader in custom mobile case designs, with more than 3 million product offerings shipped to the hippest cats worldwide.”

Up until a year ago, their cases were sold exclusively on eBay and Amazon. They decided they needed to establish a direct-to-consumer selling strategy, and that’s when their social media marketing kicked into high gear.

Social Strategy - Marketing and Selling

Most importantly, Head Case Designs knows their customers. They primarily serve 18-24yr old millennials, with 75% of their customers under the age of 30. They skew female. These people are cool. They’re unique. They don’t want what everyone else has - they want to stand out. They view their phones as an extension of their brand identity.

Building off of that knowledge, Head Case Designs created a brand personality that is “someone you would want to hang out with at a party,” says White. “We’re friendly, jokey. Not too serious.”

Developing their brand identity and tone guided their hiring decisions as well, White adds. They’ve hired three new people who mirror their clientele and have experience cultivating a following in their personal life.

With these fundamentals in place, they’re creating content that is specifically tailored to their customers. White says “we used to post photos of the front and back of cases, but that was not engaging. You’ve got to make sure your products are presented in a way that consumers can relate to it. People need to be able to see themselves using it.” They started posting photos of the phone cases on desks, with jewelry and papers strewn about. This type of content created a new level of customer engagement and support.

Social Strategy - Customer Experience

There’s something special about being able to say “I made that.” Head Case customers are proud of what they have created and they want to share it. Head Case uses the Oracle Social SRM Media Mixer tool to create their “Cool Case Wall” on Facebook. White adds, “It only took 30 minutes for us to set it up. We search #headcase and #headcasedesigns, find the good photos and then add it to the wall. Then we direct message the people who posted it and say, ‘Hey, thanks for posting that great picture of your Head Case, we’ve highlighted it on our Cool Case Wall, go check it out.’ And then they feel closer to the brand.”

Customers also need to know that their concerns are being heard as well. “Social is the place where we need to engage the consumer,” says White. Head Case prioritizes responsiveness on all platforms because they know that “if one customer complains on social, you’ve lost 10,000 customers. Social has shifted the power from the brand to the consumer.”

Best Practices

The first thing White said was, “We’re learning our social strategies every day.” That’s not to say that they’re amateurs; rather, it means that Head Case maintains a “beginner’s mindset” every day. A beginner is unbiased and open to new ideas. They’re creative. They think differently. Keeping a fresh perspective allows you to create fresh and original content, which is what resonates with customers.

Of course, not everything is going to be a winner. Head Case has set up specialized analytics dashboards within Oracle Social’s SRM to analyze what content is doing well on each platform. “We would prefer to grow our fan base slowly and stay engaged,” says White. “Wouldn’t it be better to have a small number [of fans] that is engaged and sees everything you post, than a big number that never hears your message?”

White also mentioned “proactive marketing,” a relatively new strategy that utilizes Oracle’s listening capabilities to capture when a customer is having a problem with a competitor. For example, if someone posts “ugh my case just broke again!” this message would be flagged for Head Case’s team to reach out and say, “Hey, we hear you’re having a problem, how about you try us for a discount?” This strategy also has the added benefits of creating a metric that will show directly how social media drives the bottom line.


“Social marketing is built to break rules and operate quickly,” says White. Check them out on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Google+ to follow their social progress in real time.

Monday Feb 23, 2015

5 Emerging Themes for 21st Century Business

When you look at the nexus of forces impacting business today we can clearly see momentum building.  Each of the themes noted below is already happening, albeit at varying stages, in businesses across the globe. The continued innovation and speed of technology, coupled with the rise of millennials, will drive a tipping point in the next 12 to 36 months that will have a material impact to the business of business.

Cultural Change Will Be the Driver for Modern Business Success:
Change is hard. But as Richard Branson said in a recent blog, “A company that stands still will soon be forgotten.”  A recent study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s F500 companies on the S&P will no longer exist in 10 years. A key reason why: reluctance to embrace change. Organizational structures and business models have to evolve for modern, 21st century business.  The rise of millennials entering the workforce is fueling the flames of change. The Hartford Financial Services Group estimates that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. Accounting firm PwC pegs it much higher - nearly 80% by end of 2016. Our future is digital and collaborative. Organizations have to embrace technology innovation and encourage new ways of doing business across their consumer, employee and partner relationships. More often than not, it is culture that prohibits innovation because culture, well, it doesn’t like change. The CEO becomes not only a strategy and business execution leader but also a change agent.

Marketing “Technologists” Will Usher In Modern Business - Equally adept at marketing and technology, marketing technologists will become critically important to businesses, especially as customer experience, digital technologies, social business, and data take center stage. Perhaps more than any other function, marketing technologists will help spur innovation and digital transformation within their organizations. Look for new hires in this area, as digital natives and data scientists begin to flex their skills for the benefit of the bottom line. The rise of CTOs reflects the importance of technology and data skills.

Data-Driven Customer Interactions Emerge: The prime directive of marketing is to build deep and lasting relationships with customers to ultimately drive top-line growth.  To do this effectively in the digital era a marketer needs to understand the impact of every customer interaction.  While the amount of digital data available today is greater than it has ever been, the number of different technologies that are currently employed to interact with customers has grown out of control. Today’s reality is that we have actually moved further away from our goal of deep understanding. Disparate data systems and the inability to easily tie offline and online actions together has made attribution and data management too challenging for most organizations. As we progress to the next generation of these modern customer experience systems, we are going to finally solve this complex problem, bringing traditionally “siloed” technologies—marketing, social, service, commerce, third-party data—to an integrated and unified customer profile.  Collaborative efforts within the enterprise—across people, processes and technology—are driving major changes, while modern cloud-based systems with API driven architectures are creating platforms that are finally able to talk to each other effectively. The moment we have all been waiting for, the convergence of cloud, integration technology and digital tracking, is finally here.  Look for the continued integrations of consumer-facing technologies to merge for more data-driven and complete customer experience solutions. This is going to have great impact on top-line growth as well as customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention.

User Experience Leads Technology Adoption and Innovation: User experience will continue to be a critical requirement for enterprise software adoption.  Consumers today have high expectations from their technologies, as they are accustomed to modern, engaging, personalized and intuitive experiences. Those expectations don’t change at the workplace. Millennials will demand it. Customers will require it.  And thanks to the cloud enterprise software providers we will finally be able deliver modern, innovative and elegant user experiences. No longer will long enterprise software upgrades get in the way of investment in user experience. The cloud allows vendors to deliver at the pace of change that we all have grown to expect.

People Centric Business: As businesses grow more customer centric, organizations will begin to expand relationships across the entire value chain to include their employees and partners. Engaged, valued and empowered employees will help drive customer-centric objectives and overall better business outcomes. As IDC’s Mary Wardley stated in a recent report on Customer Experience, “Customers are obviously at the center of CX. But the company’s employees are just as important, if not more so, as they are in the direct flow of delivering the customer experience. Employees are the advocates and evangelists for the company.”  The rising millennial generation is all about engagement, interaction and collaboration. They expect it. Listening, understanding and engaging all your people collectively is the future. People centric business is modern business.

Wednesday Feb 11, 2015

VIDEO: Oracle President Thomas Kurian on Marketing & CX

Perhaps no other business role has more to gain – and lose – in the ever-important world of customer experience (CX) than today’s marketer. Customer centricity and CX have become the leading strategic focus across almost every business around the globe. And yet there’s still no clear-cut winner on who owns customer experience. What is clear, however, is that marketing and its numerous customer touch points has the greatest opportunity to take the strategic wheel with today’s empowered, digital, social and mobile consumer.

Gartner analyst Laura McLellan cited 10 “proof points” on why customer experience is the next big thing. The proof points include compelling statistics including Gartner research showing that last year the top marketing technology investment was customer experience; and the No. 1 innovation project for 2015 will be CX.  McLellan also references Oracle research that reveals 93% of business executives say that improving CX is one of the top three priorities for the next two years, with 97% stating, “CX is critical to success.”

With all this CX imperative talk you’d think businesses and marketers would be feeling confident in their CX development. You’d be wrong.  According to a recent Advertising Age article, many CEOs and CMOs feel their progress is lacking. Why? It’s not an easy process. It requires transforming your business models to put the customer at the center of every single thing you do, understanding and engaging them at all touch points, across both their offline and online worlds. As McLellan says, “It’s a huge change-management process.” And one she believes the CMO has the prime opportunity to seize and lead.

Oracle’s Thomas Kurian understands the CX imperative and the heavy weight on marketers to lead it. Having a consistent cross-channel view of customers with the ability to reach, engage, understand, segment, target and automate in an effective way is a major undertaking. But it is one Oracle has dedicated years of resources and time towards.   “We are the only ones in the industry that can actually solve these problems.” He goes on to say how Oracle is helping the marketer develop a “cross-channel identity graph” so marketers can know their users across all their channels and touch points. “The fact that we have this unified view of people, across all these channels, fundamentally transforms the power of marketing tools.” You can hear more from Kurian in this video.

“The core of CX, and what we are building it for, is to enable our customers to successfully disrupt business models and become leaders in their industries,” said Kurian.

In a business environment where the majority of CEOs and CMOs put CX at the top of their priorities, that’s a good thing for Oracle and its partners. 

This is just one entry in a series of blog videos with Kurian. Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear spent the day recently with Kurian discussing everything from the changing role of today’s CMO and CIO, to data and innovation, to the importance of user experience. Check back each week as we feature a new video with insights from Kurian on how Oracle is partnering and co-innovating with our customers to help pave a path of success and deliver consistent, rewarding and exceptional experiences for their customers.  

Tuesday Oct 21, 2014

11 Ways to Wreck Your Social Relationships

social media relationshipsSocial media marketing is all about building authentic relationships. It involves many of the things human relationships live and die by; knowing the person, trust, altruism, patience, etc. So it follows naturally the opposite traits would lead to relationship failure; narcissism, mistrust, selfishness and the like.

When you look at how some brands treat their fans, followers and customers on social, it kind of makes you wonder what their real world human relationships are like. Even as long as social marketing has been around and as much thought leadership has been written on the subject, customers are still NOT getting the experience they want to have with their brands on social.

There are plenty more, but here are 11 ways you can risk having your customers one day tell you, “We need to talk.”

1. And You Are…?

Don’t get or pay attention to any analytics. Don’t try to find out who your fans are, where they are, or what they like. If you accidentally find out what they like, don’t act on it. It’s a great way to prove over and over to them you couldn’t care less.

2. Lie to Them

You silver-tongued smoothie. Just keep putting up those misleading headlines or links to things that violate their expectations. It’s a real trust-builder. And while you’re at it, throw some unrelated trending hashtags into your tweets to trick people into seeing you.

3. Keep Them Guessing

Start a social channel, sweep fans off their feet with content, then suddenly vanish for half a month. Play hard to get. Never let them know where they stand with you or what they’re going to get from you.

4. Bore Them Stupid

Ever been on a date where the other person talked endlessly yet managed to never touch on a single topic you cared anything about? Brands are doing that all the time with their content. People like you to talk about them.

5. Don’t Care How You Look

Let your Timeline go. Don’t give yourself an attractive cover or photo. Make sure your profile picture really bland. Don’t post a lot of videos or photos…just show them lots and lots of text. Oh, and make sure everything you do looks horrible on mobile.

6. Be Obtuse

Leave them thoroughly confused by cramming your tweets with as many tags, links, hashtags, and hieroglyphic symbols as you can. Make them WORK to understand what you’re trying to communicate. Maybe they’ll think it’s fun.

7. Come Across as Desperate and Needy

Who isn’t drawn to that? In every Facebook post and every tweet, make sure you’re pushing your product as hard as you can and trying to get a commitment out of them after the first meeting.

8. Show No Effort

Make posts and tweets like, “Is everybody ready for the weekend?” Nothing makes a fan feel special more than being addressed as part of the masses with a message that sounds like an obligation, created on your phone as you’re heading out the door.

9. Expect Too Much Too Soon

It’s very important that if you aren’t being Liked by thousands and they aren’t commenting and sharing your content like crazy, you start resenting them and abandon your efforts to connect with them. Just be sure to blame it on them and not you.

10. Ignore Them

IF they interact or reach out to you at all, that’s a really big deal. You should be doing flips. Ignoring their gesture or not responding to their interaction until 2 weeks later is a fantastic way to foster hostility.

11. Insist the Relationship Be All About You

What do you need? What do you want to get out of this? That’s why you’re doing this and that’s all that really matters, right? If your customer is happy and fulfilled, that’s nice and all, but it’s hardly the main point. Make sure everything is done your way and happens 100% on your terms.

You want your brand to be as desirable as possible in your social marketing. The people you’re courting want to be appreciated, thought about, cared about, and loyally attended to. If you don’t do it, it’s your brand that pays the price, not the customer. They’ll get over you, move on, and find someone else very quickly.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Friday Sep 26, 2014

Why Oracle OpenWorld is for CMO’s and Marketers

social media marketing at OpenWorldThis year, as we head into Oracle’s biggest event of the year, Oracle OpenWorld 2014, social is a more prominent theme and topic of discussion then ever before. It’s been awhile now since the dawn of the consumer empowering social media revolution. The focus now is on developing and applying the power of technology to meet the new customer expectations in order to win and keep their business.

When social first entered the corporate picture, it was regarded largely as a novelty. Arms were folded across the C-Suite as businesses went into wait-and-see mode. Rebels and pioneers launched a brand presence on social. Interns and believers went about posting and building communities. It grew apparent that consumers actually wanted to be connected to brands as well as their friends and family.

But what did this mean? Was this a new way to get the brand’s ads in front of customers and prospects? The great “misunderstanding of social” movement began. Over time, we learned how consumers used social, why they used social, and what they wanted from the brands they voluntarily connected with on social. It wasn’t to be the recipient of a marketing megaphone. It was to build one-on-one relationships with brands that would lead to higher satisfaction. They wanted to feel special and valuable to their brands.

The tools (on top of the social networks themselves) and processes to actually facilitate such attentive, satisfying, one-on-one relationships have become the concern of a now fully invested C-suite; CMO’s with broader responsibilities, new creatures like Chief Digital Officers, Chief Experience Officers, and Chief Content Officers. Social has steered the dialogue to customer experiences and customer-centricity, which is what you’ll hear a great deal about at this year’s OpenWorld.

Frankly, from a tech perspective, not just anybody can pull this off. When you think of the integrated systems and platforms needed to:

  • Know the customer
  • Know their purchase & service history
  • Listen to what they’re experiencing in real time
  • Anticipate their needs
  • Reply to and resolve their problems in short order
  • Offer up relevant/usable content in exactly the right place at exactly the right time
  • Communicate on the right channel and the right device
  • Leverage satisfaction for customer advocacy & added marketing amplification

…you realize small players offering point solutions is a non-starter. That’s why CMO’s and marketers are finding Oracle OpenWorld more relevant to them than ever as they join their CIO and IT partners in attending. If customer experience and customer-centricity are indeed the name of the game today, such things as social marketing platforms, CRM, data, and the cloud must now be in the marketer’s curriculum.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Friday Sep 05, 2014

Real Time Marketing: Is It Worth the Rush?

The marketing world was awakened to real time marketing during Super Bowl XLVII when Oreo seized on the lights going out and tweeted “you can still dunk in the dark.” Was it brilliant creative? Did it sell a lot of cookies? I don’t know. What got the industry’s attention wasn’t what was done, but that it was done at all.

Predictably, the following year for Super Bowl XLVIII, marketers were armed and ready to flap their lemming wings and do “me too” real time marketing. It fell as flat as the Bronco’s defense. Oddly, brands mostly engaged with and reacted to other brands, flooding streams and feeds with attention-soliciting marketing, the kind of thing that can get a brand unfollowed.

So…is real time social marketing good or bad? Effective or non-effective?

It depends on your definition of real time marketing, and there are many. A Realtime Report study found 68% of marketers think it’s responding to trends and current events, like our Super Bowl examples. But more, at 76% and 74% respectively, think it’s personalizing content depending on customer interactions with the brand, and responding based on a consumer’s web interactions.

So real time marketing as a stunt is iffy. It’s very difficult to do well, in meaningful ways, and if you do it poorly it’s fraught with backfire potential. That doesn’t mean end all talk of brand newsrooms; just consider that the news you report should perhaps be about the brand or industry as opposed to hijacking unrelated trends or events.

But real time marketing as a result of intimately knowing your audience and delivering relevant content to them at the most opportune moments, based on indicators they’re sending at the time…that’s smart real time marketing. It’s enabled, of course, by real-time listening that lets you tap into how customers are currently feeling and what they’re currently thinking about.

The rewards? The Realtime Report showed 81% of marketers surveyed see increases in engagement as a key benefit of real time marketing. Better customer experiences (73%), increased conversion rates (59%), and improved brand perception (52%) were also cited. A separate study from Golin Harris showed real time marketers can expect a 21% bump in positive brand perception and an 18% increase in likelihood to buy.

So while real time marketing certainly has its critics, if your brand’s approach to it is to tap into the genuine needs individual customers have of you and provide solutions in time to make a difference (as opposed to inserting your brand irrelevantly into whatever’s hot), then you’ll be providing real value and will be welcome any day, any time.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Tuesday Aug 19, 2014

So You Want to Be a Social Media Director

social media directorDo you want to be a Social Media Director? Some say the title is already losing its relevance; that social should be a basic skill that is required and used no matter what your position is inside the enterprise.

I suppose that’s visionary, and a fun thing for thought leaders to say. But in the vast majority of business organizations, we’re so far away from that reality that the thought of not having someone driving social’s implementation and guiding its proper usage conjures up images of anarchy.

That said, social media has become so broad, so catch-all, and so extended across business functions, that today’s Social Media Director, depending on the size of their staff, must make jacks-of-all-trades look like one-trick-ponies. Just as the purview of the CMO has grown all-encompassing, the disciplines required of their heads of social are stacking up.

Master of Content

Every social pipeline you build must stay filled, with quantity and quality. Content takes time, and the job never stops. Never. And no, it’s not true that anybody can write.

Master of Customer Experience

You must have a passion for hearing from customers and making them really happy.

Master of PR

You must know how to communicate and leverage the trust you’ve built when crises strike. Couldn’t hurt to be a Master of Politics.

Master of Social Technology

So many social management tools on the market. You have to know what social tech ecosystem makes sense and avoid piecemeal point solutions.

Master of Business Development

Social for selling and prospecting is hot, and you have to know how to use social to do it.

Master of Analytics

Nothing else matters if you can’t prove social is helping the brand. That’s right, creative content guy has to also be a math and stats geek. Good luck with that.

Master of Paid Media

You’ve got to learn the language, learn the tactics, learn the vendors and learn how to measure results.

Master of Education

Guess who gets to teach everyone who has no clue how to use social for business.

Master of Personal Likability

You’ll be leading the voice, tone, image and personality of the brand. If you don’t instinctively know how to be liked by actual people, the brand will be starting from a deficit.

How deep must you go in this parade of masteries? Again, that depends on your employer’s maturity level in social. Serious players recognize these as distinct disciplines requiring true experts for maximum effect. Less serious players will need you to execute personally in many of these areas. Do the best you can, and try to grow quickly at each.

If you’re the sole person executing all social…well…you’re in the game of managing expectations and trying to socially educate your employer. The good news is, you should be making a certifiable killing. If you’re alone and your salary is modest, time to understand how many brands out there crave what you’ve mastered. Not to push back against thought leaders, but the need for brand social leadership has not gone away…not even a little bit.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Stefan Wagner,

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

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

Friday May 02, 2014

Oracle Marketing Cloud Announced for Modern Marketers

(Before I get to the blog, here’s an interesting and pertinent video in which Oracle senior vice president Reggie Bradford talks about the social enterprise with Josh Sternberg, senior editor of Digiday Content Studio.)

Oracle has introduced the Oracle Marketing Cloud, a comprehensive suite of modern marketing products consisting of Oracle Eloqua, Oracle Responsys, Oracle Compendium, Oracle BlueKai, and Oracle Social Cloud.

What’s a poor enterprise marketer to do in 2014? The whole space got turned on its ear thanks to social/digital, everyone’s talking about the need to integrate marketing functions, there’s big data to deal with, yet they’re expected to deliver improved, relevant customer experiences.

Great. How?

Stringing together isolated, piecemeal solutions from a variety of vendors, or trying to stick with siloed legacy technologies, is increasingly not the answer to “how.” On April 30 at an event in New York City, Oracle President Mark Hurd unveiled the Oracle Marketing Cloud, a comprehensive suite of modern marketing products that includes cross-channel marketing, content marketing, social marketing and data management for marketing.

We’re talking about a best-in-class technology for marketers to find, engage and develop ideal customers. What’s an “ideal customer”? It’s a customer of the highest value, one that’s gone beyond purchasing to engaging and advocating for your brand.

Unfortunately, right now, most customers are getting a fragmented, inconsistent experience across channels, with brands delivering shot-in-the-dark transactional messages rather than data-driven, targeted, relevant content that fosters lasting relationships. A Harvard Business Review study says 77% of customers don’t feel like they have any relationship with any brand.

A single profile of each customer, accessible to all departments across the org that need to access that profile to engage that customer holistically and intelligently, is the best hope for fixing this fragmented, inconsistent, uninformed environment marketers currently struggle with.

Therein lies the vision for the Oracle Marketing Cloud, the ability to deliver on the promise of true customer centricity by combining and orchestrating powerful Oracle components like BlueKai, Compendium, Eloqua, Responsys, and the Oracle Social Cloud. It’s a suite for unifying customer data, engaging the right audiences, and delivering high-performing marketing programs across paid, owned and earned.

As if that weren’t enough, it’s a marketing ecosystem that speaks to the merging requirements of Marketing and IT. It must unify resources for Marketing, but IT has to trust it in terms of security, scalability, and performance.

So welcome to the age of modern marketing, a time in which a proven enterprise suite with integrated marketing automation, content marketing, and social marketing for enterprise B2B and B2C is well worth a serious look.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Tuesday Apr 15, 2014

5 Things That Should Be Keeping CMO’s Up at Night

CMO insomniaHey, don’t go assuming that being kept up all night is always a bad thing. When you think about what’s swirling around in a CMO’s head, it might be worry that keeps them tossing and turning, or it could be excitement about the cool changes we’re seeing.

To be on safe side though, let’s just assume it has to do with confusion.

And that’s understandable, because marketing has been turned on its head in a very short period of time. Here are 5 things the CMO-on-their-toes should be asking themselves. If they don’t know enough to even be asking the questions, well, there are bigger problems.

1. Seriously, Am I Going to Be in Charge of EVERYTHING Now?

The demands on today’s CMO have gone far beyond branding, PR and advertising. Since the disruption to business had its epicenter in Marketing, the CEO is looking to the CMO to “deal” with every ripple effect resulting from it, no matter how far out into the organization it reaches.

Suddenly, it’s not about getting leads for sales, it’s about conversions. Suddenly, the CMO must understand the tech that drives marketing execution or harvests the metrics by which they’ll be judged. Suddenly, with social a big part of recruiting, the CMO has a big hand in HR. Suddenly, with customer service via social, the CMO is invested in that customer interaction. Suddenly, the CMO is culling feedback that informs product development.

Today’s CMO might notice the c-suite doesn’t require as many offices as it used to.

2. What Do My Customers and Prospects Want From Us?

Nothing good will come from a CMO that lies awake at night thinking about the next campaign or corporate message. If you’re going to lose sleep, lose it thinking about how to find out exactly what your customers do and don’t want from you. It’s called customer-centricity. Lots of companies talk about it, but frighteningly few actually do it. If you care, and if you listen, you’ll be more than halfway to sleeping through the night.

3. How Am I Going to Cope with Being a Media Company?

No matter the platform, marketing is increasingly content marketing. With an all-out war on to capture attention from a mobile, over busy, short-attention-span public, only content that entertains, informs, or provides tangible value will score.

You’re probably not an entertainment or journalism brand. That doesn’t matter anymore. You have to be. Imagery and video are huge in terms of engagement. Your blog has to rock. 24% of digital marketers even plan to add podcasting this year to capitalize on the intimacy of in-car listening and car connectivity. The days of not resourcing content, not hiring people who know how to consistently make it, or trying to commoditize it, are OVER.

4. What Tech Am I Supposed to Invest In?

Many brands are trying to operate with disconnected, standalone solutions. That’s an untenable position as Marketing continues its expansion and social extends to nearly every function of the enterprise. Not having integrated components means you’ll be leaving big data advantages on the table. The right hand won’t know what the left hand is doing, and the feet will be completely clueless.

It’s unlikely most brands are ready to jump in to the largest social and marketing ecosystem for the enterprise available. Therefore, a technology partner that gets you the components you need today, but that also sets you up for the addition and quick integration of components like CRM, will help you rest easier.

5. What If I Pursue a Strategy and Then Everything Changes?

Good news: you don’t have to wonder about that, because you can already be 100% assured everything is going to change…probably often and quickly. Looking for a point at which you can say, “Okay, we’ve totally got this down,” or at which you can go on autopilot, will only lead to anxiety.

The social networks themselves will always change, the ad products they offer will come and go, mobile technology will change, abilities to measure will change, trends & tastes will change, and consumer behavior will change – as will their expectations. The fact that change is inevitable makes waiting for things to “settle down” before you act a dangerous endeavor.

Asking yourself the questions is the first step toward resolving these pressing issues in your mind, which is your key to sleeping like a baby.


Tuesday Apr 08, 2014

Is Social Marketing Over?

“Is social marketing over”?! It’s a question that might come as a bit of a shock seeing as how many brands are still in the “just getting started” phase of it.

So to get an answer to our question, and to lessen the shock, we should probably determine just what “social marketing” means. The method of marketing to people by building relationships with them and winning their trust is hardly anything new. Door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen figured that out long ago.

So social is not a marketing method. It’s a medium, a type of media. Look…it’s even right there in the name, social media. It’s a utility, a stage, a delivery and measurement system. It's a way for brands to utilize new technologies to get messaging to customers and prospects, and to help those people receive it in a way that lines up with how they’ve adopted technology into their personal, day-to-day lives.

So if you aren’t social marketing on the medium of social, what are you doing? You’re content marketing and influencer marketing. You’re not “putting out a social.” You’re putting out content and using the medium of social to do it. Certainly it’s unlike any other medium we’ve had access to before. It’s empowered the consumer, upped the mandate of real-time, raised the value of providing real value, and demanded two-way interaction.

Because of that, the medium has also come to be used for functions that formerly were not, but that are increasingly coming under, marketing’s domain; eCommerce, Customer Service, A/B Testing & Research, Recruiting, even Sales & Fulfillment.

This, my friends, is the social-enabled enterprise. In it, CMO’s have more responsibilities and accountability than ever, and it’s the utility of social coursing through the organization like electricity, touching and integrating its multiple components, that has created this new business reorganization.

So the perception that you’re doing “social marketing” when you post on Facebook is technically true. But that’s like saying you’re doing print marketing when you publish a book. In both examples, what you’re actually doing is content marketing. You’re just employing two different types of media to do it.

Now, how does this mental delineation help you?

One, it should underline the degree of importance you should be putting on content creation. Two, it should shorten the debate over whether to “do” social. Marketers today are still driving social with the parking brake on, shocked that such an approach isn’t resulting in immediate, astonishing rewards. Are you prepared to attempt content, influence and event marketing while either eliminating or keeping a stranglehold on the entire medium of social? It’s akin to a CEO saying, “we’re serious about growing this business, but by golly we’re going to do it without phones.”

If you’re approaching social as a method and not embracing it for the medium that it is, then broadcast, print, and outdoor will no doubt still welcome you with open arms. Who knows, there might even be a nostalgic, anti-modern marketing charm to it.

Photo: Mateusz Stachowski, stock.xchng

Tuesday Apr 01, 2014

Your Brand Personality: You Should Probably Get One

Do you bore people out of their skull at parties?  Do people avoid you because they can never quite figure you out? Then you may not want to volunteer to be put in charge of your brand’s personality or voice.

We’ve all seen them, those charismatic people who can walk into a room and light it right up. People gravitate toward them, want to spend time with them, be associated with them. It’s like they’ve never met a stranger. That’s what you want your brand to be.

Imagine being at a barbecue and someone arrives looking out of place in a buttoned-up suit. They speak and respond to questions in carefully rehearsed lines. They only talk about their agenda. They offer no emotion or opinion. And oh yeah…they have their lawyers with them to carefully vet conversations. Wheee!

It’s very difficult to live life at its fullest with no personality. Yet for decades, corporations have actively fostered the “corporate veil,” which cast them as faceless, inhuman entities with walls that protect them from customers. Relationships? Are you kidding?

Now, post-social revolution, brand personalities are vital. Without one, no one can get to know you, connect with you, like you, root for you, vouch for you…everything we want them to do. Plus, social abhors a vacuum. If you don’t establish a brand personality, the public will project one onto you. And they may cast you as the villain, or the loser.

How do you get a brand personality and internalize it? You make a huge, jargon-filled whitepaper. Just kidding.

  • Consider your mission and values
  • Decide what you want people to think of when they think of you
  • Think about what kind of people your targets are and what they like
  • Decide what kind of experience you want people to have with you
  • Settle on a tone

As for internalizing, “The Big Bang Theory” has multiple writers. But they can all write for the character of Sheldon because that character has been so clearly defined. They can hear the voice of Sheldon in their heads as they write. Beyond that, there are head writers, directors and the actor himself. If a line or action is inconsistent with the character, they’ll catch it.

Lay out a clear description for employees and representatives of your brand as to what the personality and experience should be. Make this personality the dominant vibe in the workplace (Brands get this wrong. Personality isn’t just for external consumption). Make the personality evident in all assets and communications. The more you live it, the more instinctive it becomes. And don’t half do it. You have to really put your personality out there, just like a person has to.

Some final thoughts on brand personality:

  • Inconsistent or erratic personalities confuse (and scare) people. Commit to the character.
  • Personalities are hard to break up with. Mysterious inhuman organizations aren’t.
  • Studies show brands that display human characteristics connect better because we’re more receptive to messages from those we have an emotional connection with.

Would anyone become an enthused “fan” of Katy Perry if she were a dull, unimaginative wallflower? Even if they liked the songs, without Katy’s personality (present and evident in everything she does), it’s unlikely her brand would be what it is today. What could the power of personality do for your brand?

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Jan 10, 2014

5 Secrets to Marketing and IT Collaboration Success

Today’s post is from Jack Newton, Dir. of Outbound Product Management & Strategy for Oracle Social Cloud. He shares results from the new Oracle, Leader Networks and Social Media Today study on Marketing/IT collaboration inside the enterprise.

Collaboration white paper coverIf you’re hoping that congress comes together in 2014, it’s probably a lost cause.

But it can be a different story with Marketing and IT leaders in modern organizations.

In Oracle’s Socially Driven Collaboration study, 26% of Marketing and 36% of IT leaders report that they collaborate frequently – with Marketing leading the charge. While that’s great, it’s disappointing that 20% of Marketing and a whopping 38% of IT leaders collaborate rarely or never.

For those who don’t collaborate, they’re holding themselves and their organization back.

In fact, 74% Marketing and 71% of IT leaders collaborating more report that they are more effective as professionals. With the business benefits that can come from collaboration, the C-Suite has a vested interest in creating a strong culture of collaboration, too. Some of the benefits include:

  • Stronger/more compelling marketing messages (54% Marketing; 51% IT)
  • Faster speed to market with products and services (47% Marketing; 43% IT)
  • Greater adoption of the products or services offered (40% Marketing; 42% IT)
  • Reduction in project costs (23% Marketing, 36% IT)
  • Fewer defects in products or services offered (26% Marketing, 27% IT)

How can you bridge the collaboration gap?

1. Get C-Suite Buy-in for Shared Goals

When it comes to the quality of collaboration between groups, 57% of Marketing and half of IT respondents classify their level of collaboration as being only “adequate.”

Turn the tide by tapping into the widespread belief among executives about the potential for social to transform business. An MIT Sloan Management Review executive study shows that 70% of senior leaders indicate that social business presents an opportunity to fundamentally change the way their organization works.

2. Understand the Perspective of Your Peers

For those who do see the benefit of collaboration, it can be frustrating to get the cold shoulder from the other team. More Marketers (17%) report that while they see the benefit, their peers in IT are not receptive.

Why is this a problem? A Lightspeed Research study shows that 25% of customers who complain on Twitter or Facebook expect a response within an hour. If the organization isn’t set up for social customer service, bring IT’s experience with organization-wide technology rollouts and Marketing’s experience with social together to fix it.

3. Be the Role Model

Over the past 12 months, 41% of Marketing and 38% of IT leaders say they have engaged in more collaboration. This means there’s a lot of room for improvement, since the majority of Marketing (56%) and IT respondents (60%) report no change.

Don’t be the anchor that’s weighing the company down. Kick things into gear by picking one point of customer pain or a business priority that has both IT and Marketing implications, then reach out. Be persistent.

4. Find Meaningful Metrics

Pick two or three initiatives that are near-term so you can show impact sooner rather than later. Use the list above for some ideas.

5. Carefully Choose Tools and Technology

Your new bargain basement bike may be able to get you to work now, but it’s not going to be very helpful when your job moves across town… in the wintertime… in the middle of a polar vortex.

One-off social tools are similar. The cost incurred when adopting short-term solutions and then switching to integrated tools can potentially be more than the money saved.

According to one IDC analyst, “aggregating into a new user experience (UX) or augmenting an existing one requires social tools to be integrated with other enterprise systems and needs to be embedded inside the work processes to get the most value.”

Want to learn more?

Download the study to see more findings and read interviews with social media leaders from Whole Foods Market, Chubb and Shell. They share tips and lessons learned that could be applied to almost any business on the journey to becoming more collaborative.


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