Friday Sep 12, 2014

Essentials of an Employee Social Media Policy

social media employee policyThere’s still a lot of fear out there around employees’ use of social media related to their company of employment. Employees are scared to mention the company for fear of doing something wrong. That’s not good. Brands want and need employees to be the first wave of social message amplifiers and engagers.

Companies are afraid an employee post referencing the company will lead to a humiliating PR nightmare. That’s not good either. With the content fire hose wide open and as hard as it is to get your brand noticed on social, restrained marketing rooted in fear is a sure path to #fail.

So below are some terms you may want to include in your company’s social “rules of the road.” Having such guideposts in place helps the company and its employees understand each other’s wants and concerns so that mutually beneficial activity can comfortably proceed.

  • We encourage all employees to follow company social channels and actively engage on those channels. Additionally, we ask that you set the preferences on your social channels and devices to receive notifications when a post goes out from the company’s social channels.

  • We encourage all employees to share official company social posts and content on their own social channels. When adding comments to such content, employees are expected to use sound judgment in not criticizing or being counter productive to the messaging the company is trying to communicate. If you have questions or criticisms of the messaging, please address with your immediate supervisor FIRST.

  • The more you use your personal social channels to mention the company and share its content, the more guarded you are requested to be in how you present yourself overall on your social channels. Please respect and be aware of the fact that during the time of your employment, you are a representative of the company. This is actually a sound practice that should help you professionally, regardless of your employment with our company.

  • Please always use proper, widely acceptable, non-offensive language and terminology in any posts you make on your personal social channels that also mention the company.

  • Please refrain from posting any news or imagery from or about the company on your personal social channels if you have any doubts whatsoever such material is not cleared for public release. This includes product rollouts, product improvements, policy changes, etc. Immediacy of posting is not required such that there isn’t time to check with a supervisor first and make sure employees are clear to talk about the subject in question.

  • Please refrain from engaging in any discussion with or about a company competitor on your personal social channels. Simply direct such conversations exclusively to our company’s products, solutions and benefits.

  • We ask that you take with the highest level of seriousness and consideration any request by the company to immediately remove a post on your personal social channels that inappropriately mentions the company, runs counter to privacy policies or embargoes, or is factually incorrect.

  • We want you to be a sincere, transparent, enthused ambassador for our brand. If there are reasons you are reluctant to be publicly associated with the company or product, and if you feel comfortable doing so, please discuss the origins of this reluctance with a supervisor. We see this as a learning opportunity for us in how the workplace or product can be significantly improved.

  • We encourage you to report conversations of note about the company that you encounter on your personal social channels to the brand’s social manager. While we do have a social monitoring and engagement platform in place, it’s always helpful to have such conversations called to our attention to insure proper engagement.

  • As active social channel users in your personal lives, you are particularly experienced in what type of content, especially from brands, captures your attention and wins your engagement. We encourage you to submit content to the brand’s social manager for possible posting on the company’s channels, be it a tweet, image, video, poll, curated content, or original blog post.

  • The company allows access to social network sites, including personal social network sites, onsite during the workday so employees can remain connected and in communication. We ask that you honor this policy by consistently and regularly using that access to help amplify the company’s messaging and stimulate engagement with the brand’s posts.

  • If you have any questions regarding proper usage of your personal social channels when referencing the company, please consult your supervisor or the brand’s social manager before publicly posting.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Krzysztof Szkurlatowski,

Tuesday Sep 09, 2014

8 Steps to Become a Social Enterprise – Even With Silos

steps to social media managementA social enabled enterprise is one that activates social media across every department to the effect of optimizing internal communication and improving customer experiences. Despite those clearly positive benefits, it calls for root changes in how organizations are structured. That’s why even today, the struggle to infuse social rages on.

An easier blog to write would be to call for corporate silos to come down. We’ve done that…a few times. But the reality is many of those silos have the permanence of Stonehenge. Silos work for somebody, and those somebodies are defending them to the death.

Does that mean social at such enterprises is a lost cause? Nope. Let’s say the silo walls stay up. Here are 8 steps to becoming a social enabled enterprise anyway.

1. Accept What’s Going On

Adopt a birds-eye view of what’s happening in marketing and what customers now expect from businesses. They don’t see your departments, nor do they care. In every interaction, it’s just you, and them. If one hub falls short, the WHOLE brand gets blamed.

2. Name Your Change Agent

A mighty leader needs to take the reins of this effort. Preferably someone charismatic, highly respected, and passionate about the benefits social integration will bring to the customer.

3. Task Force Time

This leader must organize a social task force, pulling in representatives from every silo that will be affected. Each member must be an ambassador to their silo, represent their department, and reach authentic buy-in.

4. Endgame

Where are you headed? What does it look like when completed? How will it affect MY department? What does MY department have to gain from this? Each task force member should have a clear vision of the promised land.

5. What Can Your Tech Do?

Assess the tech tools and platforms each silo is using to achieve their goals. Knowing that people like to stay with what they’re used to, what social management platform has the ability to ramp up and integrate with most existing enterprise systems?

6. Re-Onboarding

Even if they’ve worked there for 15 years (in fact especially if they’ve been there that long) re-onboard all staff around the organization’s new priority to customer interaction and relationship building via social.

7. Nurture & Protect

You know all the great work that’s been done to nurture and protect the silos? That same fervor must now also go toward maintaining social as the lifeblood of how information courses throughout the enterprise; how it’s distributed and tapped into. Social data + enterprise data = the heart.

8. Post a Lookout

At this stage, your change agent’s focus should shift toward monitoring and assessing oncoming trends and developments in social, content, and marketing so, as to keep the org from having to play catch-up.

If you can’t tear down corporate silos, you can at least lay social across the tops of those silos so improved connections result. Given how orgs are still struggling, even this cursory approach will likely place you in the upper percentile of enterprises best positioned to deliver on the promise of social business.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Tuesday Sep 02, 2014

Why GM Changed Lanes in Social Customer Service Staffing

social media managementWhat are the ingredients of social customer service that actually services, and satisfies, customers? Like many brands, General Motors found itself faced with that question after taking a second look at how current practices would (or wouldn’t) hold up post-social revolution.

And it’s an increasingly important thing to get right. A BI Intelligence report says social customer management doubles the percentage of sales leads that result in actual sales, relative to traditional CRM approaches. McKinsey says 71% of consumers who received good social service are likely to recommend the brand to others.

In a newly released Oracle Social video, Reggie Bradford chatted with GM’s Rebecca Harris about the challenges that were seen, what needed fixing, and what kind of people and processes were brought in to fix it. Among Rebecca’s points:

  • A typical call center, like the one they had in Saginaw, does not lend itself to direct management. There are multiple players between you and the customer, and little control of interactions.
  • With social having changed public expectations, direct oversight of the personnel hired to engage with customers became a must.
  • Such personnel have 4-year educations, are proficient in reading and writing, and have some sort of customer service background or experience.
  • Rebecca says, “We can teach them social. We can't teach them to be nice. They have to have that core first.”
  • You want to be as close to your customer as you can be, with the fewest possible layers required to get issues resolved.
  • A key goal is getting everyone to know we care and we're trying to help customers.
  • You won’t solve every problem. But we get our field team involved, our dealer team involved, whoever and whatever it takes in trying to solve that problem.
  • Hire the right people, train them, then let them do their jobs.
  • When you have a misstep, talk about it, adjust & correct, and keep moving forward.

How close are you getting to your customers? How much control over the individual interactions does your brand have? In the age of relationship marketing, the person you have representing you on the front lines of customer service is a make-or-break player.

We invite you to watch the full video, as Reggie covers several social topics with Rebecca and GM’s North American Customer Experience Executive Director David Mingle.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Friday Aug 22, 2014

Customization: It’s Wanted in Enterprise Tech Platforms Too

social media managementDid you know that every customer service person does their job the exact same way in every business organization?  And did you know that every business organization cares about the exact same metrics? I hope not, because both those things couldn’t be farther from the truth. And if there are different needs and approaches in different enterprises, it stands to reason technology platforms must become increasingly customizable.

Oracle Social Cloud sees that coming and is doing something about it, at least in terms of social media management. Today we introduce Social Station, a customizable user experience workspace within the Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform.

We think a lot about customer-centricity and customer experience around here, and we know our own customers are ready to start moving forward in being able to set up their work environments in the ways that work best for them. That kind of thing increases productivity, helps deliver on social objectives faster, and generally just makes life more pleasant.

A recent IDG Enterprise report says that enterprises currently investing in more consumerized, easy-to-use technologies experience a 56% increase in employee productivity and a 46% increase in customer satisfaction. Imagine that. When you make it easier and more pleasant for employees to help customers, more customers get helped and everyone ends up happier.

social media analytics

So what does this Social Station do and what does it mean, exactly? It’s an innovative move to take some pretty high-end tech (take a bow developers) and simplify it, making things more intuitive:

  • Drag and drop lets you easily build out and personalize your social workspace with different modules.
  • The new Custom Analytics module can mix and match over 120 metrics with thousands of customizable reporting options. You can check constantly refreshed updates and keep a real-time eye on the numbers you’re trying to move.
  • One-click sharing and annotation in the Custom Analytics module improves sharing and collaboration across teams, departments and executives.
  • Multi-view layout helps you leverage social insights by letting you monitor conversations by network, stream, metric, graph type, date range, and relative time period.
  • The Enhanced Calendar is a better visual representation of content, posts, networks and views, letting you easily toggle between functions and views.
  • The Oracle Social Station sets us up to always be developing & launching additional social modules for you, covering areas like content curation, influencer engagement, and command center creation.

social media management

Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear says, “Consumers today have high expectations of their technology application capabilities and usability, and those expectations don’t stop when they enter their workplaces.” In other words, internal enterprise technology platforms must reflect the personalization and customization being called for in consumer products and marketing.

“One size fits all” is becoming an endangered concept.

@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 22, 2014

Cut Yourself a Break: Get a Social Management Platform

If you’re a community manager who’s publishing, monitoring, engaging, and analyzing communities on multiple social networks manually and individually, you need a hug.  We’re sure you’re getting by just fine, because you’re a typical superstar CM that possesses multi-disciplinary skills. But at what point do you cut yourself a break and let a social management platform preserve your sanity?

The expectations on you seem to have gone nowhere but up, while the resourcing has either stayed the same or inched up an embarrassingly uninformed amount. A pro-grade social management platform is not exactly a luxury, it’s STEP ONE in any true commitment to social marketing and customer communication.

You know the best practices. You know the right things to do. But your brand is making it quite an uphill climb for you. I can almost guarantee your CMO does not know what it’s like to be a community manager. I can even almost guarantee the person to whom you directly report has no clue what you do, or how you do it, or what it entails. Sooner is better than later to educate them (and no one can do this but you) on how vital social management platforms have become.

Tell them this is what one could be doing for you:

1. Scheduling posts. Lining up the optimum number of posts every day across multiple social networks so fans can get in the habit of consistently seeing content from you.

2. Finding and alerting you to mentions of your brand or unwanted content. Let the platform watch for things that need your attention, otherwise you’re stuck watching screens 24/7…and paranoid.

3. Gathering richer analytics than native gets you. What if your KPI’s aren’t what Facebook thinks they should be? Don’t get buried in numbers, see the ones that matter.

4. Publishing to all of your streams with one click, and from one dashboard. If you’d rather watch a wall of 4 or 5 monitors, and rock 4 or 5 keyboards, knock your lights out.

5. Giving you the quickest way to leverage rich media like video, coupons, polls and quizzes that get higher engagement. Optimizing, posting and promoting a video 5 times on 5 different channels is time you’ll never get back.

6. Targeting your posts across platforms. Seattle doesn’t want to hear about the deal you’re only offering in Dallas. Too much of that irrelevancy, and they won’t want to see anything from you.

7. Integrating with other enterprise systems. If your social marketing is “talking” to your CRM, sales, fulfillment, etc. systems, customers may start to feel like your brand actually knows them!

Even if you enjoy being a social marketing martyr, that doesn’t mean that approach is the most efficient or effective for the company. Encourage your decision-makers to let a social management platform get the repetitive drudgery and busywork off your plate so you can use what makes you particularly valuable, your skills at finding & creating better content and increasing personal engagement with posts.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Friday Jul 18, 2014

LinkedIn Inclusion Closes Chapter 1 of the Oracle Social SRM Platform

With big news having rolled out this week, we turn today’s guest blogging duties over to Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear.

Back in May of 2012, Oracle completed a series of social media acquisitions launching its commitment to enhanced, effective digital customer experiences for brand marketers. Peering into the future, we saw that the age of carpet-bombing consumers with messages urging them to come to the brand was doing as much harm as good. We knew that the future was going to be about meeting customers wherever they are, whenever they’re there, and with personalized, relevant content.

It was clear that the social networks were becoming nothing less than the hubs of public communication.

The option for marketers to ignore social was slipping away, and the Oracle Social Cloud committed itself to building a comprehensive social marketing, engagement, and monitoring technology platform that would make differentiating customer relationships possible. The commitment was our recognition that the customer was in control and that brands would have to change if they wanted to retain customers and deliver outstanding customer experiences.

With Oracle’s subsequent acquisitions of Eloqua, Compendium, Responsys, and BlueKai, which together form the Oracle Marketing Cloud, we were able to offer integrations with the Oracle Social Cloud that moved brands far from yesterday’s point solution technology and into a marketing ecosystem capable of powering tomorrow’s promise of highly personalized and engaged customer experiences.

So this week’s inclusion of LinkedIn to our publishing and engagement capabilities should really come as no surprise given the role LinkedIn is playing for B2B marketers today. Adding 2 members per second has brought it to over 300 million users, a number that’s doubled in the last calendar year with over half of those users outside North America.

This addition of LinkedIn to the Oracle SRM platform is great for our customers, solidifying the platform as the clear choice for B2B marketers. But it’s really just the end of an opening chapter in an amazing marketing revolution story we’re all seeing play out in full Technicolor in this era of digital transformation.

This revolution is about mobile, social, big data, cloud-powered outrageous customer experiences. Recognizing the magnitude of this opportunity is the reason our product has been so rapidly innovating. We have been building new capabilities in concert with our global customers with the aim of helping them deliver best-in-class customer experiences…the kind of post-revolution brand encounters customers have come to expect.

As we continue socially enabling the enterprise, we are excited about the great experiences we can unlock with our partner LinkedIn using the Oracle SRM platform. The future is bright for marketers, and Oracle Social is happy being able to do our part to bring innovation to our customers, working together to write the next chapters.


Friday Jul 11, 2014

Did You Hear That? The World Just Got Smaller

Oracle Social Cloud Expands Global Language Resources to Help Businesses Listen to Customers Worldwide

Do you speak Bahasa? Then we have good news for you. Customers of the Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM) solution, brought to you by the good folks at the Oracle Social Cloud, can now listen in that language so brands will know what you are and aren’t happy about.

That’s also true for Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish. So Oracle now supports 18, count ‘em, 18 languages with advanced keyword and Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) listening.

Most of us are familiar with keyword listening, even advanced keyword listening that helps separate signal from noise so you get fewer results that you don’t want. But package that with Latent Semantic Analysis, and now you’ve really got something. LSA takes what’s known about terms and how they’re usually used so that context and likely intent can be factored in. You can probably imagine how this dance of terms and intent differs from language to language.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Oracle also offers Natural Language Processing (NLP) in Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, with more languages to come. NLP helps you get to the sentiment being expressed in the things you’re hearing across social, forums, blogs, sites, etc., we’re talking access to over 700 million messages daily. And the Oracle SRM itself gives you user interfaces and publishing in 31 languages.

But back to today’s announcement. Organizations that operate globally can’t just stay deaf to what people all over that globe are saying. The personalized, localized customer experiences modern marketing brings wouldn’t be possible. Oracle (quite the global brand itself) is committed not just to effective digital listening for brands, but also to extending that listening capability into every market you’d care to penetrate.

Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear says, “With the global social networking audience reaching 2.33 billion by 2017, there’s no doubt that successful businesses need to be globally social. Removing language barriers is critical to improving an organization’s social listening, learning and engagement capabilities.”

There are all kinds of reasons to listen to what people are saying. You can learn what’s going on with your products, with your industry, and with your competition. Today, location and language simply cannot be a barrier to the customer awareness so critical to winning customer experiences. Now that you can listen in these additional languages, just don’t forget to act on what you learn.

@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

Tuesday Jun 17, 2014

Social Listening: Okay, What Is It I’m Supposed to Listen For?

When Jay Leno was first being considered by NBC for host of the Tonight Show, legend has it he literally hid in a closet so he could overhear executives weighing the positives and negatives of him vs. David Letterman. Leno intuitively knows the value of social listening.

Who wouldn’t be curious about what people, in honest and unguarded moments, are saying about you? Who hasn’t wanted to be a fly on the wall? Today, social listening makes these things possible for brands. It’s a power you don’t want to leave untapped. But what exactly should you be listening for across social and the Internet at large?

Someone praising you or a competitor:

You’re going to want to engage the rave to help amplify it if it’s about you. If it’s about a competitor, you want to know their strongest features.

Someone having trouble finding, getting, or using yours or a competitor’s product:

It reveals there’s a kink in the happy customer process, a frustration-maker you should fix if it’s yours and exploit if it’s a competitor’s.

Someone debating whether or not to get yours or a competitor’s product:

Don’t jump in to sell them! Offer to answer any remaining questions about your offering, and incentivize.

Someone having a general problem your product helps solve:

Often, people won’t mention brands, but will cry out about a pain point your product could help solve. You’re listening for people to rescue.

Mention of your brand or a competitor by an influencer:

Influencers aren’t just media & big bloggers, they’re also the people who engage most with you or in your area of expertise.

Someone trying to directly reach out to you or a competitor:

If they go to the trouble and you ignore them, you do crazy brand damage. If your competitor makes this crucial mistake, jump on it and offer help from YOUR brand.

Reaction to campaigns and branded content you’re running:

Don’t double-down on a campaign or content people find immensely ignorable.

A hot topic it makes sense for your brand to tap into/comment on:

But you better be careful. Many brands have been severely burned while attempting this.

Opportunities to step in and serve others:

NOBODY minds a brand inserting itself and bringing its power to a worthy cause.

Mentions of valued customers or partners:

You want to be their biggest public cheerleaders, so engage their stuff and share it.

Overall brand sentiment trends:

You shouldn’t wake up one day shocked by how many people don’t like you. It happens over time, so get ahead of the curve.

Location and activity cues:

Oh, you’re near our ice cream shop and complaining about the heat? Here’s a coupon and directions.

Research & development, crowd-sourced product and feature ideas:

Real-world users of our products see them differently and have different experiences with them than we do. We should probably pay attention.

Listen for top employment prospects in your field considering their options:

You can find them first and get the best people just because you were actively looking for them.

Listening is an ongoing, always-on affair. This can’t be for curiosity’s sake, be ready and able to act on what you hear. And if your social listening platform can’t keep up, YOU can’t keep up. We’re talking about a heavy lift of big data, filtering, multiple languages, the ability to establish meaning and intent, etc.

Oracle’s Reggie Bradford points out, “Social listening helps companies tune in to what customers are saying and respond in real time with messages that better reflect their here-and-now sentiments and interests.” Don’t stay tuned out.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: David Ritter,

Tuesday May 27, 2014

Get the Picture: Pinterest for Marketers

When trying to determine on which networks to conduct social marketing, the usual suspects immediately rise to the top; Facebook & Twitter, then LinkedIn (especially if you’re B2B), then maybe some Google Plus to hedge SEO bets.  So at what juncture do brands get excited about Pinterest?

Pinterest has been easy for marketers to de-prioritize thanks to the perception its usage is so dominated by women. Um, what’s wrong with that? Women make an estimated 85% of all consumer purchases. So if there are indeed over 30 million US women active on it monthly, and they do 92% of the pinning, and 84% are still active on it after 4 years, when did an audience of highly engaged, very likely sales conversions become low priority?

Okay, if you’re a tech B2B SaaS product like the Oracle Social Cloud, Pinterest may not be where you focus. But if you operate in the top Pinterest categories, which are truly far-reaching, it’s time to take note of Pinterest’s performance to date:

  • 40.1 million monthly users in the US (eMarketer).
  • Over 30 billion pins, half of which were pinned in the last 6 months. (Big momentum)
  • 75% of usage is on their mobile app. (In solid shape for the mobile migration)
  • Pinterest sharing grew 58% in 2013, beating Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. (ShareThis)
  • Pinterest is the 3rd most popular sharing platform overall (over email), with 48% of all sharing on tablets.
  • Users referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy on e-commerce sites and tend to spend twice that of users coming from Facebook. (Shopify)

To be fair, brands haven’t had any paid marketing opportunities on that platform…until recently.

Users are seeing Promoted Pins in both category and search feeds from rollout brands like Gap, ABC Family, Ziploc, and Nestle. Are the paid pins annoying users? It seems more so than other social networks, they’re fitting right in to the intended user experience and being accepted, getting almost as many click-throughs as user pins.

New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose laid it out succinctly; Pinterest offers a place that’s image-centric, search-friendly, makes things easy to purchase, makes things easy to share, and puts users in an aspirational mood to buy. Pinterest is very confident in the value of that combo and that audience, with CPM rates 5x that of the most expensive Facebook ad, plus (at least for now) required spending commitments and required pin review by Pinterest for quality.

The latest developments; a continued move toward search and discovery with enhancements like Guided Search to help you hone in on what interests you, Custom Categories, and the rumored Visual Search that stands to be a liberation from text.

And most recently, Pinterest has opened up its API so brands can get access to deeper insights into the best search terms and categories in which to play ball, as well as what kinds of pins stand to perform best in those areas.

As we learned in our rundown this week of Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report, around 50% of marketers specifically intend on upping their use of Pinterest. If you’re a big believer in fishing where the fish are, that’s probably an efficient position to take.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Adam Lambert_Gorwyn,

Tuesday May 20, 2014

Social Marketing Report: 7 Things For You To Think About

social media marketingGetting Social Media Examiner’s annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report is like opening a present on your birthday. It’s always intriguing to find out what you social marketers are doing and plan on doing. It’s also interesting to see if the answers you give on surveys match up to the actions you’re taking in the real world.

Let’s take a look at some of this year’s findings and give you something to seriously think about for each.

1. The top 5 things you’re struggling with are tactics (91%), engagement (89%), measurement (88%), social management tools (85%), and audience targeting (83%).

Hm…could it be that your inability to wrap your arms around maximizing engagement, measuring the KPI’s that affect your business goals, and being able to accurately and relevantly target your audience has something to do with those social management tools you’re also struggling with? Multiple, non-integrated tools would leave anyone struggling in this environment.

2. 37% of you say you can measure the ROI of your social, up from 26% last year. 68% of you analyze your social.

Hm…I’m thinking about the 32% that don’t analyze their social activities. If even those that do have taken 4 years to get to this still non-impressive point of ROI measurement, those that don’t need to play some serious catch-up with a robust analytics platform.

3. 83% of you said you’ve integrated social into your traditional marketing activities.

Hm…you have? I get the queasy feeling many of you answered “yes” to this question if you put a social sharing button on an email newsletter. True integration comes in the form of a widely social-enabled enterprise, and we happen to know 83% of you aren’t there yet.

4. 64% of you use social 6 or more hours a week, 37% of you are on it 11+ hours weekly, and 19% put 20 hours into it per week.

Hm…I’m so confused by these stats I don’t really know where to start. Someone will have to tell me what social media’s operating hours are and how you’re not managing your social channels 24/7/365.

5. Most of you are using social to develop loyal fans (72%) and to get market intelligence (71%).

Hm…how’s that loyal fan development coming? Because study after study shows brands woefully falling short of responding to customers reaching out on social, especially for customer service issues. Many brands’ social channels are merely new ways to anger customers.

6. You mostly plan to up your usage of blogging platforms (68%), YouTube (67%), Twitter (67%), LinkedIn (64%), and Facebook (64%). You don’t have big plans for location nets like Foursquare/Swarm (12%).

Hm…while it’s true this list alters depending on whether you’re B2B or B2C, it doesn’t look like mobile is on your mind, an essential ingredient of right person/right time/right place/right way marketing. You do get points for ranking video/YouTube higher on your priority list though.

7. Other than social, the kinds of marketing you use most are email (85%), SEO (65%), events (60%), press releases (51%), online ads (40%), direct mail (39%), print display (36%), sponsorships (30%), and mobile marketing (19%).

Hm…see above about the critical nature of mobile. 19%? As for email, SEO, online ads, direct mail, etc., these are not things that need remain in silos, disconnected from social. Consult your friendly neighborhood marketing cloud.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Erika Brookes
Model: Sunny

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 29, 2014

The Art & Science of Social Marketing

An abbreviated version of this post first appeared at

social marketing artAs we near a very exciting event in NYC April 30, in which CMO’s will bear witness for the first time to the “big picture” of cloud and data-driven modern marketing execution, how about a quick look at the social media component of that modern marketing?

Marketing used to be largely art. But today’s CMO must also know and be adept at the science driving customer insight, relevant and timely targeting, and precision measurement.

The Science

  • Understanding the tech of each social network, those that are here and those yet to come. What are their functions? What value prop do they offer marketing? Just keeping up with the changes the current nets are always making can be rough.
  • Integrating those networks into one, manageable platform for efficient publishing and facilitating a comprehensive picture of your social analytics.
  • With organic reach dropping and the importance of paid social rising, is there tech that connects you to your choice of paid social media partners so you can quickly leverage top performing content to extend its reach and engagement?
  • Listening to the customer has become every bit as important as pushing marketing messages. Your social listening tool should alert you to the current hot topic in your space, what the public is saying about you, where the competition is messing up so you can offer better solutions, how people are responding to your campaigns, and the overall sentiment for your brand.
  • If customers are engaging on your social channels, you must honor that by responding quickly and relevantly. An engagement tool surfaces these communications and facilitates such responses. Nobody likes being ignored.
  • An extensive, enterprise-capable workflow system means tasks can be assigned, managed, and customer communications can be routed to the right person for the fastest response and resolution. This workflow also allows for internal admin so, global to local, access to and activities on your channels are closely managed.
  • All these tools lead to the ultimate…the social-enabled enterprise, in which social weaves not only through marketing functions, but connects to other enterprise systems such as CRM, Sales, HR, Fulfillment, etc. for the most powerful use of big data imaginable.

The Art

  • Tech is far from the answer to every marketing challenge. Creativity is not only still vital, it is even more do-or-die as content quality separates winners from losers. Bad idea attempting to commoditize creative talent.
  • Brands now have to be “Liked.” So, you can’t realistically proceed sans brand voice and personality. People don’t connect with entities, they connect with humans. As in real life, there’s an intuitive art to striking a chord with people and making them want to associate with you.
  • Brands need entertainers and journalists. For the content you put out there to stand a chance, it must entertain or inform. Entertainers and storytellers are artists.
  • You’ll hear how effective it is to “surprise and delight” customers. Yes, tech can show what your audience tends to like, but creating something that truly catches them off guard and sweeps them off their feet is an art. (See? You didn’t realize you were performing art when you came up with that amazing surprise for your anniversary)

Social is but one part of the modern marketing ecosystem. But perhaps more than any other component, as a result of being in the trenches of day-to-day brand/customer relationship building and nurturing, social is where you’re likely to find the most even mix of art and science.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial

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


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