Friday Apr 18, 2014

When Bad Tweets Attack: 8 Bits of Advice

Bad Twitter attackIt’s the nightmare every C-suite exec envisioned back when talk of doing social media first started…what happens if the brand makes a catastrophic and very public social media mistake? Don’t people realize how much money has been spent on marketing and PR to make sure every syllable the brand puts out is soft, safe and sanitized?


Social is 24/7, real-time, revealing, and involves interaction between humans. That is not a recipe corporations seek out. But it’s the one they’re now forced to deal with. And just as they feared, mistakes are going to be made.


Case in point, this week’s disastrous tweet on the US Airways account containing a photo I really can’t describe without getting into trouble myself. To its credit, the airline is not firing the social manager who made the mistake. Skift.com found US Airways sends over 400 reply tweets a day, with an average response time of 38 minutes. Despite the horror of the mistake, that’s a solid record. An organization dispensing with the “off with their heads” mentality when it’s not warranted is quite mature and refreshing.


They are hardly alone in taking a social media stumble. Sometimes it’s innocent error. Sometimes it’s being greatly disconnected from how the public feels about you and what they’re likely to do, such as a financial firm’s cancelled Q&A after followers seized the solicitation for questions as a chance to mock the brand and industry mercilessly.


All too often, it’s a lack of judgment or a lack of awareness to make good judgment calls. Far too many brands have piggybacked on trending current events for marketing purposes, only to meet with blowback from followers for being exploitative. Light events like the Super Bowl, fine. Tragedies & anniversaries of tragedies, not fine.


Sometimes, it’s rogue employees such as the live-tweeting of a mass firing at HMV on the brand account, made worse by the marketing director then publicly asking followers, “How do I shut down Twitter?”


And sometimes, bad things even happen from what you don’t do. British Airways lost Hasan Syed's luggage and didn’t respond to his Twitter inquiry, so he simply bought a promoted tweet and amplified what happened, which was his right. British Airways later admitted its Twitter feed was only open during the day.


So here are a few things to keep in mind about when bad tweets happen:

  • As some of the above examples illustrate, you’re often your own worst enemy. Learn to do social right.
  • Have a social media policy so you’ll minimize risk and instantly know what to do if something goes wrong.
  • Get the best social listening tools you can find so you’ll know what’s being said about you.
  • Understand that if you make a mistake, it’s going to go viral, especially if it’s funny. You better find a sense of humor about your corporate self if you don’t have one.
  • Know that social is a human endeavor…if it’s done right. Mistakes are going to happen. Don’t over-react.
  • Don’t hire your social managers carelessly. They have to be smart, aware of the world around them, in tune with their audience, able to stay calm in a crisis, and have solid judgment.
  • If a bad tweet happens, do NOT try to be slick. Own up to it, explain it, apologize if necessary.
  • Know that a bad tweet usually isn’t as big a deal to readers as it is to you. They’ll express snarky outrage if it’s in bad taste. They’ll have fun with it at your expense. But they’re generally understanding and forgiving. Remember, they do social themselves. They know it’s a high wire act.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

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.


@mikestiles
Photo: freedigitalphotos.net


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.


@mikestiles
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?


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng


Friday Mar 28, 2014

Three Busted Social ROI Myths

Today’s post is from Jack Newton, Dir. of Outbound Product Management & Strategy for Oracle Social Cloud. He dispels some of the myths around social ROI, and demonstrates how to put ROI measurement on solid ground.


social media mythsI have social ROI set up as a Google Alert, and it's rare that a day goes by when there's not something posted about it. There are good reasons for this.


One is that there are many myths about measuring ROI. And just like the definition of a myth – “a… legendary story… with or without a determinable basis of fact” -- myths tend to endure, get passed down and then repeated.


Every good story needs a hero. That hero can be you by following some steps to get your company on solid ground with measuring ROI. And at the same time, set the company on a course to make the entire customer experience better.


Myth 1 There isn’t a way to correlate social indicators with broader business objectives and metrics.


You may be surprised at how social analytics being collected today can be used to show progress against business goals and objectives.


  • Conversations: Number of customers or prospects
  • Likes/followers: Customer retention or advocacy
  • Customer service requests: Customer satisfaction; time to resolve
  • Reach: Brand value or engagement
  • Demographics and location: Market expansion


Intrepid Social Spotlight blogger Mike Stiles has covered this topic in more detail – “Social Media Metrics Explained.”


Myth 2Social media only applies to marketing.


The fact is, taking advantage of social business practices and sharing insights across the organization can benefit everyone while improving CX.


  • Commerce & Sales: Stronger and more relevant messages and customer loyalty
  • Customer Support: Call center cost savings and better service
  • Human Resources: Talent pipeline strength and employee retention
  • Internal Collaboration: Speed to market with new products and services and richer consumer insights


Getting started may take some reaching out to other groups within the organization, but it’s well worth the effort. Nearly two-thirds of Marketing and IT leaders who collaborate report that they’re more effective as professionals.


Myth 3 Executive leadership isn’t interested in social ROI.


If senior leadership doesn’t show an interest in social ROI, it could be because the numbers aren’t presented in a form that’s relevant to the C-suite.


All organizations have metrics and objectives that are set by company leadership.

If you don't know the primary metrics your company and group use to measure success, you should start there.


If you’re still having trouble getting attention, share these stats to show how getting serious about digital and social can make a positive impact on revenue. According to CapGemini, companies that are more mature from a digital perspective see:

  • 9% more revenues on average
  • 26% more profit than their competitors
  • 12% higher market valuation


Busting More Myths


John Lennon once said, “I believe in everything until it’s disproved.”  Learn about 3 more myths and how to disprove them in a new whitepaper about social ROI, which can be downloaded right here.


Photo: stock.xchng

Sunday Mar 09, 2014

Saturday: Top Panel Takeaways from the Oracle Discovery Lounge at SXSW

Oracle Social at SXSWIt was quite the full and successful day at the Oracle Discovery Lounge at SXSW Interactive, as the social leaders of major brands shared their experiences and lessons learned around social ROI, social marketing, social customer service, and social management.


For those who couldn’t make it to Austin or the Waller Creek Boathouse, here are some of the top takeaways.


The Right POEM Equation in Today’s Shifting Social Landscape

Oracle Group VP Meg Bear, Kenshoo Social GM Sivan Metzger, Nanigans Biz Dev SVP Ben Tregoe, and SHIFT CEO James Borow

Oracle Social's Meg Bear


  • In the paid space, you must know what content is performing well and will bring good results for you if it gets some paid support.
  • You can't go forward realistically without including all stakeholders in the paid, owned, earned ecosystem.
  • Attribution is a challenge. If you make $100, how much of that went to each marketing component?
  • The ad is really the last step in a long process, and each step deserves some credit for the win.
  • Bigger companies are trying to get into more of a startup mindset so the newest tools can be tried out.
  • CMO's seeking to show how each paid social expense speaks directly to business KPI’s is the very near future.


Setting the Record Straight; Say Goodbye to Social ROI Myths

Oracle VP Erika Brookes, LEGO Director Lars Silberbauer, Pernod Ricard’s Jeremie Moritz.

Erika Brookes SXSW


  • Having social data is like having your head come up out of the water.
  • Lego empowers their front line people to do not just community management, but paid media for immediate action.
  • 500 people have been trained in social at Lego. They have a "social driver's license." The process was selective, not everybody was invited to get trained in and participate in social.
  • Getting staff to participate on internal social networks helps get everyone used to being more social overall.
  • Switch focus to smaller communities consisting of the fans who matter and who are engaging.
  • Pernod Ricard doesn't try to understand everything. Data is there to help, not do the whole job for them.


Slamming Social Into High Gear; a GM Case Study on Social

DigiDay’s John McDermott, GM Director Social Media Communications Mary Henige, GM Social Center of Expertise Lead Rebecca Harris


  • GM uses social a great deal for customer care, where owners can ask all sorts of service and product questions.
  • Their team knows the topics important to their targets and run strategy against it. It's not hit and miss.
  • GM uses photos fans send in as their Facebook cover photos, and they're among the most shared.
  • Social listening lets them know if there's something their customers aren't understanding or need help with.
  • Social and events like SXSW help get them in front of younger demos that may not be eager to walk into a showroom.
  • Social listening in a crisis helps you find your biggest advocates & defenders.


Related content you might want to check out:

  • FREE whitepaper on measuring social ROI in the enterprise.
  • See fun Instagram images coming out of SXSW mixed in with tweets from @oraclesocial with our SXSW Experience Tab.
  • Video: Oracle's Meg Bear talks with new paid social partner SHIFT's CEO James Borow.
  • Video: Oracle Social's Erika Brookes talks social ROI myths with Pernod Ricard's Jeremie Moritz.
  • Video: Oracle Social's Mike Stiles talks with GM's Mary Henige about how you manage such a massive customer base. 
  • There's a LOT going on at Oracle Social. Get access to all of it with our brand new one-stop Infowall.

    @mikestiles

Tuesday Mar 04, 2014

The Secrets to Making People Care About Your Social Marketing Content

boring social media contentI write about social marketing…a lot. And I’ve found that the more tech innovation comes along, the more relentless expectations by brand leaders are that marketing be executed purely from automated, algorithm-driven machines.


The tech tools are stunning in their ability to gather, analyze, inform and direct customer interactions. I’m lucky enough to be with the only company with the depth and resources in business software across the enterprise to build a fully integrated marketing and customer experience environment. If I were a brand, I’d be nervous about messing with anything else.


But success unavoidably keeps boiling down to making content that attracts, holds, and inspires people. That is a human artistic endeavor. How do you make people care about the content you’re putting out? You don’t. You take what they already care about and craft your content from that foundation. Here’s what they care about.


1. Looking Good

Being associated with you is either going to be embarrassing or empowering. Your users want to look cool. If you give them content that makes them look cool if they share it, they’ll do it. If it makes them look like your salespeople, that’s embarrassing.


2. Not Being Played for a Chump

If you bait me with an awesome headline then fail to deliver value or generate interest in the first couple of graphs, I feel tricked. And I don’t like people who think so little of me they try to trick me. 38% of people who land on a page bounce almost instantly.


3. Feeling Like They Belong

Guess why people are on social to begin with. To connect. If they don’t feel they’re getting insider info or special deals from you, they don’t regard it as much of a connection. If they praise or reach out to you and get ignored, that’s full-on rejection, one of the deepest human fears there is. Heart+Mind Strategies found 72% of US users shifting back to using social primarily to stay in touch with family and friends. Brands are losing them.


4. Feeling Known

If you care enough to know what platforms they prefer, what kind of content they respond to, when they tend to be online, what kinds of images grab their attention, which of your products they use, etc., they’re far less likely to blow off or gloss over content that comes from you.


5. Not Having Their Time Wasted

That means your stuff better either entertain, inform, or both. Keep content fresh. If you can solve a problem they’re having, solve it. If you can make them smarter (overall, not just about you and what you offer), do it. If you can make them laugh, do it.


6. Being Able to Trust You

Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University writes about six “Weapons of Influence.”

Several revolve around authority and trust. Our default is to trust authority. Brands have a head start. You’re an authority…until you violate that trust. People also commit to and defend the choices they make. They’ll go to distance to support their choice to Like you, but can be pushed too far. And they trust groupthink. If your fans are happy and participating, there won’t be much dissent. But if the tide turns against you thanks to bad content, the dominos will fall quickly.

7. Things Being Fast and Easy

Resist your corporate urge to make things as complex as possible to prove to the people up the hall how hard you work. People move through social content lightning fast. Overthink what you’re doing and they’ll say “eh…” and move right past your stuff. Quick and easy to consume, quick and easy to share.


Some brands have started to question whether social users want content from them at all. eMarketer shows over half think brands should be creating timely digital content. So much for that excuse. They want content, they just want it to be good. And they’re working diligently to edit out the noise.


Don’t be noise. Test your content, make sure it touches on basic human emotional triggers, and you’re on your way to users looking forward to your content and turning into brand advocates.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Feb 28, 2014

Oracle Social Ready to Rock SXSW for Attendees and Followers

Social Marketing, the social enterprise, and the social cloud will be well represented by the Oracle Social team at this year’s SXSW in Austin. If you’re going, great! We’ll see you there. But even if you’re unable to attend, follow @oraclesocial like a hawk and you’ll get all the takeaways you need, right in the comfort of wherever you are.


Here’s what we’re doing:


ORACLE TEAM USA

You can meet and get your picture made with some of the crew that snagged victory from the jaws of defeat, winning the America’s Cup in the “Miracle on the Bay.” Members of Oracle Team USA like grinder Shannon Falcone will be at our Oracle Discovery Lounge at the Waller Creek Boathouse March 8 and 9 from 4-5p.


ORACLE DISCOVERY LOUNGE AT THE BOATHOUSE

And speaking of the Discovery Lounge, that will be Oracle’s headquarters at SXSW. Immerse yourself in innovation around the Social Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and the Internet of Things. These are the innovations rapidly changing today’s enterprise. The networking, food, music, happy hours, and demos run March 8-10, 11a-7p. Come find out just how social we can be!


BRILLIANT SESSIONS AT THE BOATHOUSE

Mar 8, 1p - The Right POEM Equation in Today’s Shifting Social Landscape.

Oracle Group VP Meg Bear, Kenshoo Social GM Sivan Metzger, Nanigan’s SVP Ben Tregoe, and SHIFT CEO James Borow cover the rising importance of social advertising to target and amplify content for higher engagement. Find out how to leverage paid, owned and earned.


Mar 8, 3p - Setting the Record Straight; Say Goodbye to Social ROI Myths

Oracle VP Erika Brookes, LEGO Director Lars Silberbauer, and Pernod Ricard’s Jeremie Moritz bust myths about social ROI and show how it can be approached in a unified, structured way. Also learn how to align social KPIs with business objectives.


Mar 8, 5p - Slamming Social Into High Gear; a GM Case Study on Social

GM Director of Social Media Communications Mary Henige, GM Social Center of Expertise lead Rebecca Harris, and Digiday’s John McDermont talk about how GM uses social to establish relationships before, during and after the sale. Hear about the new vehicle tech landscape, including self-driving cars, wearable tech, and infotainment.


Plus see modern marketing in action with Oracle Eloqua, and see how Java empowers and navigates the Internet of Things.


#IdeaRally

The startup #IdeaRally is a physical & virtual gathering of entrepreneurs, technologists, media, industry leaders and startup buffs brainstorming around one of Chevrolet’s guiding principals, technology. What new possibilities do YOU think auto tech and things like Chevrolet’s new 4G connected cars present? Submit your ideas and RT the best ideas by following #IdeaRally March 10 starting at 6p.


ACCELERATOR!

Beyond the Oracle Discovery Lounge, Oracle is proud to sponsor the Accelerator program, March 8-9 at the Startup Village. New, cutting edge technologies will be pitched to a live audience as well as a panel of judges, including Oracle Social Cloud’s Rahim Fazal. Which startups will emerge as the biggest thinkers of our time?


And somewhere in there we’ll try to grab a rib or brisket. Don’t forget, even if you aren’t going to SXSW, follow @oraclesocial and we’ll be your eyes and ears in Austin.

SXSW Oracle Social invite


@mikestiles



Tuesday Feb 25, 2014

Who Can You Trust to Handle Your Social Media?

social media trustWho’s writing and managing your social media channels? Because whoever that is, THEY are the public voice of your brand. They are your image. They’re the ones building relationships and forming bonds.


Who’s commenting on, liking and sharing your posts, seemingly everyone except your own employees? Are your people really that indifferent to the company and its products?


Much handwringing goes on over who should be allowed to speak for a brand on social. The result of said handwringing (and social policies the length of which rival omnibus bills of Congress) is that employees are not engaging around the brand on social at all. If that’s what you were going for, congrats!


Your social marketing is in the hands of your brand community managers, and the employees extending and amplifying the brand on their personal social channels. Do you trust them? Or are your days and nights spent stressing about controlling them?


Community Managers


For our purposes let’s take this to mean anyone contributing to or managing the actual brand-owned social channels. If they are all of the below, back off and trust them.


  • Intimately knows and represents the audience
  • Can get answers to questions, like now
  • Knows what’s genuinely cool about your brand
  • Has a human personality and recoils at corporate jargon
  • Cares about thrilling customers
  • Unceasingly creative and quick thinking
  • Calm, with great judgment
  • Master of the tech tools
  • Ever-curious researcher and curator
  • Confident and autonomous
  • Literate


Employees


Employees might be the greatest wasted natural social marketing resource of our time. Why have they built a wall between their personal social and the brand they work for? Because they’re scared to death.


When social policies are vague, malleable, and based largely on “eh…it depends,” any intelligent employee will choose to socially stay as far away from the brand as they can. There is NO incentive to engage and tons of risk in doing so. Safe + easy is an unbeatable combo.


Do you think your employees are so determined to help you on their personal social channels…for free…that they’re willing to curl up by the fire and read your social media usage policy? The shocking answer is…maybe! Over 50% of employees want to share news about their company. But just 45% of employers encourage employees to engage. It’s silly to not want employees to be active, engaged fans of their own company. So:


  • Make it clear you want them to engage, it’s not a trap.
  • Lay out a few big “don’ts” like competition bashing or violating confidentiality.
  • Have them apply workplace common sense, nothing discriminatory, etc.
  • Encourage them to put the good ol’ “opinions are mine” on their profiles.
  • Ask that they say nothing at all about the brand if they can’t say anything nice.
  • Provide them with content that’s incredibly easy to share.
  • Incentivize engagement. Give them the answer to “why should I?”
  • Offer social training, especially for new employees.


That done, if you still can’t summon up the trust to let your Community Managers and employees market your brand on social, how is it you trust them to work there at all?


@mikestiles
Photo: Piotr Dorabiala, stock.xchng

Friday Feb 14, 2014

What You Should Look for in a Social Listening Tool

Today’s guest post is from Oracle VP eCommerce and Social, CX Applications Business Group Bill Hobbib, offering up some clarity in a space increasingly crowded with vendors, both large and small, about what features and functions you should look for when shopping for a social listening tool. Beware of incomplete solutions.


Social ListeningFrom time to time, you’ll see analyst rundowns of enterprise listening platforms, each using their own criteria, definitions and methodology. In the midst of these varied approaches, yielding varied results, how can a listening platform best be evaluated?


Buyers now require broader capabilities from their social solutions that extend beyond a single department or group within a large enterprise to address the needs of organizations that want to leverage social, such as Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Commerce. Enterprises want solutions that support the integration of social data across the business to understand customers at a transactional and an intention & lifestyle level. They are looking for not just listening alone, but listening integrated with engaging, publishing, and analytics.


When considering listening and sentiment technologies, it’s important to note that all are not equal. For example, while different automated approaches to sentiment analysis may yield similar results from an identical dataset, for sentiment analysis to be accurate, the initial data must be clean of irrelevant results.


Cutting through the noise to get the best social data for analysis is challenging. This is where different listening technologies make a difference. And this is why many customers have moved from keyword/Boolean listening technology to more sophisticated latent semantic analysis (LSA) - to avoid the noise, errors, and time to separate signal from noise associated with the keyword/Boolean approach.

social listening table


The best solution is to blend all of the above for optimum results. Important considerations with social listening are: the amount of time it takes to onboard and build dictionaries, the effort to remove irrelevant content, and the automatic pulling of common words. Of what value is social data for business analysis if it takes excessive manual effort to find the signal through the noise, or if the data is noisy or just plain wrong?


Another consideration for a listening platform is out-of-the-box availability of indicators that can capture and filter conversations based on intentions (e.g. purchase, switching, sale/coupon), activities & interests, product attributes like price/quality/customer service, and brand health measures. These get you beyond tracking buzz to actionable insights, such as a customer service rep engaging with an unhappy customer, passing competitive or product insights to a product development organization, or using the insights gleaned from customers to create more compelling content the customers can engage with on social media. Also, given the importance of selling and marketing on a global level, support for listening in multiple languages should be considered, especially for enterprise businesses.


Further considerations important to many customers are the amount of time a listening tool has been available and proven in the market, the amount of time the vendor has been in business, and the financial stability of the vendor.


One last aspect: Altimeter Group looked at innovations in the social space and has written about the trend of integrating social with other customer engagement channels for the best data, targeting, and context. “The result: a technology suite that goes beyond just social, designed to entice CMOs with one-stop shopping convenience.” Altimeter sees further consolidation as tech keeps coming together in larger suites and consolidation occurs as the market evolves.


Over time, the market won’t be able to support so many smaller players. Several social vendors have already ceased operation. Altimeter observes, “This left their customers high and dry and needing to start the search for vital tools all over again. That has been another reason why some companies are looking to the big players.”


In summary, buyers considering social listening solutions must assess several factors. The vendors’ offering should be evaluated for a proven track record with the deepest listening technology to quickly, easily, accurately separate signal from noise and categorize conversations based on intentions. The product or solution strategy should include integration of social with other customer engagement channels. And the vendors’ market presence and financial stability should be assessed on multiple dimensions to ensure they have the customer traction and financial resources to be there for you over the long haul.


Happy shopping.

Photo: imagerymajestic/freedigitalphotos.net

Friday Feb 07, 2014

Social Media Metrics Explained

social media metricsWhen it comes to social media metrics, a wealth of info can turn into an embarrassment of riches. Embarrassing because you’re looking at all these figures, assuming they’re all important, but perplexed over which ones to care about and what those numbers are trying to say.


And if you’re confused, you can only imagine what happens when the bosses look at those numbers.


So assisted by definitions from the Oracle Social Cloud’s analytics, let’s explain just what some of those more prominent figures are.


  • New Fans – Oh look, here’s how many people Liked my Page in a set period.
  • Average Number of New Fans – Average number of people who Liked our page in a set period.
  • Removed Fans – Rats, this number of people unliked our page.
  • Fan Sources – Hey, now we know where the people who Liked us came from, be it it our Page profile, recommended pages, mobile page suggestions, search, etc.
  • Page Stories – Here’s the number of times our Page was Liked, our posts were engaged with, someone checked in, mentioned our Page, tagged a photo of us, etc.
  • People Talking About This - The average number of unique users who created a story about our Page in a set period. That was nice of them.
  • Average Engaged Users – This is a really important number. It’s the average number of unique users who created a story or clicked on content from our Page during a set period.
  • Negative Feedback – Okay, it’s painful, but it shows us how many people unliked us, hit the “X” button on our posts, reported us as spam, and hid one post or even all of our stuff.
  • Top Engaged Users – It helps to know who our real friends are so we can treat them special.
  • Referral Sources – Hmm, if that’s where our visitors are coming from, let’s go there more often and invite them!
  • Impressions – How many times content associated with our Page showed up on a browser. This can be Paid like a Sponsored Story or ad, Organic like being seen in News Feeds or on our Page, or Viral like stories about our Page by a friend of a Fan or a non-Fan.
  • Page Virality – Pretty important. People Talking About This divided by Unique Impressions (the number of people who’ve seen content associated with our Page).
  • Average Reach – Also a biggie. The average number of unique users who saw content associated with our Page during a set period, including paid, organic and viral.
  • Engagement Rate – Pay attention to this one. It’s the percentage of users who interacted with our post when exposed to it. To get it, you add Likes, comments, Shares, link clicks, video plays, photo views, and answers, then divide by Reach.
  • Top Posts – See that top performing post? Let’s do more of that.
  • Best and Worst Performing Times - Based on the ratio of posts to interaction over a 90 day rolling period. Maybe we shouldn’t post when our target is asleep.
  • Total Twitter Engagement Rate - The total percentage of people who interacted with our Twitter stream when exposed to it during a set period.
  • Total Retweet Rate - The percentage of people who retweeted a tweet from our stream when exposed to it during a set period.
  • Total Mention Rate - The percentage of people who mentioned our stream during a set period.


Oracle Social Analytics

Which of these statistics rise above the others in importance depends on your immediate goals for social. You might still be in the audience-building phase, you may be trying to activate your existing audience, or you might be trying to show leads, conversions and service successes from social (in which case you’ll probably want to do some integration with other enterprise systems like CRM).


But at least now you’ve got a fine start in being able to listen to what those numbers are trying to tell you.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Feb 04, 2014

Find Out How Close You Are to Being a True Social Business

BackpackerAs organizations have moved through their social strategies in fits and starts, it’s likely many have wished there were some sort of handbook for just how to become a social business in the truest, most effective sense of the term. Well, there’s good news about that.


The Altimeter Group, on behalf of Oracle, has put together the clearest, most detailed path yet seen toward achieving just that, “Delivering on the Promise of the Social Business.” And at a cost of free, it’s quite a worthwhile download.


It should come as welcome relief to managers who had control wrested out their hands by the social and customer experience revolutions, and who desire to get some of that control and order back, with sensible social strategies employed both in their external communications and their internal workflows.


The eBook’s authors point out enterprise orgs have an average of 178 social accounts, with some 13 departments actively engaging on social. Yes the concept of the social business is emerging, but with major challenges around all these disparate, non-strategic, ad-hoc, non-integrated social approaches…all being executed in the silos of yesterday’s organizational structures.


If you don’t have the right systems, training, tools, or people to execute social at scale, don’t be overly hard on yourself. You’re hardly alone. New ways of thinking, collaborating, and operating are needed across people, processes, and technology. And this eBook reveals the value of those transformations.


The value of becoming a social business exists across the entire enterprise:

  • Marketing and Communications – example: right-time & real-time marketing
  • Sales – example: using social signals to prioritize and score leads.
  • Customer Care – example: faster response times at potentially lower costs.
  • HR and Talent Management: example: social recruiting.
  • Product Development – example: opening up internal innovation.
  • Internal Collaboration – example: collective expertise to propagate best practices.


You’ll learn the 6 stages of social business maturity, measured by how aligned social is with business goals and how aligned the org is to allow for proper execution. And as a social leader inside your organization, you’ll learn what your priorities should be, from making sure strategy lines up with business goals to showcasing results to the right people.


Will you ever be 100% of the way “there” as a social business? Of course not. Our new reality is that new ways to communicate, collaborate and execute present themselves continuously. This is a journey, not a destination. But if you’re going to go on a journey, a guide sure can come in handy.


Bonus: Join Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li and Oracle Social’s Erika Brookes for a webcast on the eBook’s findings and recommendations Feb. 13 at noon EST.


@mikestiles
Photo: Benjamin Earwicker, stock.xchng

Friday Jan 17, 2014

Pinterest: The Latest Picture on Big Social Marketing Engagement

social marketing with imageryFirst of all, thanks for reading this.  It would appear we as a people are driving toward eliminating the written word and returning to communicating primarily via pictures. And whether that’s good or bad, visually driven social media networks like Pinterest continue to draw some of the highest engagement in social marketing.


Engagement is what we as brands crave on social. Having somewhere down the line decided impressions are worthless (I totally disagree), we’re using active interacting as our yardstick, and Pinterest makes fine engagement bait.


Our friends in Oracle Social Strategy Consulting tell us from 2012 to 2013, Pinterest sharing went up at least 50%. A ShareThis study underlines that, saying Pinterest is growing faster at sharing than any other social media service and has passed email to become the 3rd most popular way to share.


Pinterest is the leader in eCommerce traffic sources. It’s rapidly gaining share from Facebook in social shopping sessions, and users coming from Pinterest to retail sites are 10% more likely to buy something, part of why they’re regarded as twice as valuable to online retailers on average than Facebook fans. And 8thBridge found that online retailers prefer the ‘Pin It’ button to the Facebook “Like” 62% to 59%.


A recent Pew Project shows Pinterest saw the biggest usage spike in 2013, going from 15 to 21% and surpassing Twitter. It now has over 70 million active users globally. Who are they? You already knew the answer. Mostly women; college-educated women 25-44. Moms in particular are 61% more likely to use Pinterest than the average American.


Ah but it doesn’t stop there. Pinterest is now the 2nd largest social sharing site for news, surpassing Twitter in that as well. Pinterest drives more traffic to online publishers than Twitter, Linkedin and Reddit combined.


Heading into 2014, Pinterest is ready for mobile (2nd most mobile behind Instagram), offers analytics that tell us things like most repinned and most clicked, Rich Pins make pins more informative and interactive, and there’s the new Place Pins for travel lovers.


Most recently we saw Pinterest’s purchase of Visual Graph, which is all about turning the site’s massive content into massive data via image recognition. The tech id’s objects and faces without needing alternate text or tags. Searches for items will be highly accurate and relevant, turning Pinterest into a personalized catalogue on steroids.


Pinterest is not without challenges. It’s not monetizing yet, where the delicate dance of not turning off users enters the picture. The company doesn’t even own the rights to the name “Pinterest” in Europe and Australia. And as young and hot as it is, Pinterest could already be growing “long in the tooth.” 80% of the Pinterest-like We Heart It’s users are under 24, whereas 80% of Pinterest users are over 24.


But for right now, if engagement is going to be our scoreboard, a mighty pretty picture is being painted for Pinterest.


@mikestiles
Photo: freedigitalphotos.net


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.


Tuesday Jan 07, 2014

Ignoring Some Countries? Social Listening & Monitoring in Multiple Languages

earthSocial media is a global shift, so for companies doing business in international markets, what sense does it make to listen to what some users are saying but not others?  This week, Oracle Social Cloud added 7 more language capabilities to the existing 4, tearing down even more language and cultural barriers.


And all the people said “Hurrah,” except in different languages.


Advanced social listening and monitoring using Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM) is now available for Russian, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, and Korean. These languages join the solution’s existing English, Spanish, Chinese, and Portuguese capabilities.


The world is only getting smaller, and more interconnected. True global enterprises must be able to listen, engage, publish and analyze in each market, tapping into the wealth of data social brings. With Oracle Social Cloud watching over 700 million messages daily across social networks, blogs, forums and news sites, clients are empowered with knowledge of the discussions taking place…about THEM.


Let’s take a quick look at the social world and how it’s expanding and evolving. By 2017, the global social audience will be 2.55 billion, giving social a 24% penetration. While the most social use is, in order, in N. America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, Mid-East and Africa, emerging economies are growing at a much faster clip. The Mid-East and Africa grew 191%, while Asia grew 146%.


Makes sense to have the capabilities to do something about that, right? Capabilities like:


Global and Local Language Functionality:

Helps tear down location/language barriers for improved multinational communication.


Native Language Text Analytics:

Oracle’s unique semantic text analysis lets you find relevant messages and avoid noise.


Sentiment Analysis:

Do they love or hate you? Content analysis in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Chinese.


Native Language User Interface and Publishing:

The solution’s user interface is available in 31 languages, a dream for native community managers.


Global Dashboard Analytics:

See where the conversations are happening around the world so you can allocate resources accordingly.


Enhanced and Expanded Custom Indicators:

The expanded library of Indicators lets you access and categorize targeted and specialized messages.


Social expertise isn’t just about scheduling posts anymore. Who brands choose as their social technology partner is going to separate the serious players from the “noodlers.” Not just in terms of being able to listen to a global marketplace, but to then be able to integrate what you hear across applications like marketing, customer service, and sales.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng



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