Tuesday Dec 03, 2013

6 Reasons Marketing and IT Might Be “Frenemies”

The two areas being most dramatically affected in the modern transformation of the corporation is marketing and IT. What’s more, the changes involve a forced coming together of two of the most unlikely of compatriots. It can be awkward.

A “frenemy” is someone you’re technically friends with, but the friendly part exists mostly on the surface. Neither is exactly cheering on the other. Here are some reasons marketing and IT are set up for such a relationship.

1. There’s someone or something making them play nice.

Frenemies usually don’t come together by choice. They’re pushed into it by circumstances or some authority figure. In this case, business changes imposed by socially empowered consumers have CEO’s fully expecting their marketing and IT teams to unite and meet these new challenges…like it or not.

2. They’re usually very different people.

Think about company holiday parties of the past. Did the marketing people hang out with the IT people? Didn’t think so. There’s often a different vibe, a different language, and business goals are viewed from a different angle. No longer can each refer to the others as “those guys over in marketing or IT.”

3. There’s resentment over who has the most.

Who has the biggest budget and the most control? The Gartner prediction of January 2012 is oft repeated; the average CMO will have a larger IT budget by 2017 than the average CIO. IT is being eyed for cost containment, not investment. IDC says about 2/3 of tech spending for marketing and rising already comes from marketing. Add to dropping IT budgetary needs the fact that tech strategy is increasingly being led by the CMO, and it can be a tough pill to swallow.

4. Fear of being the odd person out.

Larry Weber of the W2 group points out CIO’s are realizing they may soon basically be working for the CMO as the tech arm of marketing. An Economist survey of C-suite execs found 57% expect their IT function to change significantly over the next 3 years, 43% said their company will increasingly use IT as a commodity service, and already 1 in 6 CIO’s have no real role in setting IT strategy. The choices are to fight (hoping the CEO won’t side with the department driving lead gen), or follow Dell CIO Andi Karaboutis’ lead and make your primary concern “how do I enable this enterprise so they have what they need?”

5. Lack of trust.

CIO’s think marketing promises things without consulting them and without good business reasons. 36% of CMO’s say IT doesn’t deliver fast enough. An Accenture survey came right out and showed the CMO and CIO don’t trust each other. CMO’s are thinking of IT as a provider, not a partner. So convinced are they that IT works against their interests, they go around them. 45% of marketing execs prefer letting marketing employees handle data with no involvement from IT. IT thinks marketers don’t “get” data integration, standards, privacy or security.

6. Everybody around the bad relationship stands to get hurt.

There’s a reason collaboration between marketing and IT is imperative. When it’s not happening or when it’s being done poorly, the customer experience (and thus business) suffers. Nobody wins…except maybe the competition if they’re more unified.

How can marketing and IT move beyond “frenemies” and into a healthy, productive relationship? The good news is younger workers in both aren’t as keenly aware of the divide. New marketers are not opposed to embracing tech. New IT types embrace facilitating lead gen and want to be agile, internal innovators in the process.

Rapid7’s CIO Jay Leader points out, “In the old days, you couldn’t get anything out of a computer unless you came through me or my organization. Those weren’t the good ol’ days.” If marketing and IT can agree on primary business goals, on what’s needed to reach them, and the parameters to do so securely, the foundation exists for real collaboration.

Part 2 of Oracle’s study with Social Media Today and Leader Networks focuses on collaboration between marketing and IT departments, and how enterprise organizations are faring in that respect. We invite you to sign up to be alerted to the paper’s release.

Photo: Martin K, stock.xchng

Tuesday Nov 12, 2013

A Letter for Your CEO About Social Marketing’s Future

We’ll leave it to you to decide if or how to sneak this in front of them.

mailbox boyDear Chief:

This social marketing thing looks serious. It’s gone beyond having a Facebook page and putting our info and a few promotions on it. It’s seriously disrupting how we’ve always done marketing. And its implications reach well beyond marketing.

My concern is that we stay positioned ahead of these changes and are prepared to embrace, adapt and capitalize on these new capabilities as opposed to spending valuable time and money trying to shoehorn social into “the way we’ve always done things.” I’m also concerned about what happens if our competition executes on this before we do.

The days of being able to impose our ad messaging on the masses to great effect are numbered. The public now has the tech tools and ability to filter out things that are irrelevant to them. And frankly, spending ad dollars to reach unlikely prospects isn’t the most efficient path for us either.

Today, our customers have to genuinely love what we do. That starts with a renewed, customer-centric focus on the quality and usability of our product. If their experience with it is bad, they now have very connected, loud voices that will testify against us. We can’t afford that.

Next, their customer service experience, before and after the sale, has to be a pleasant surprise. That requires truly knowing our customers and listening to them. Lip service won’t cut it. We have to get and use as much data on the customer as possible, interact with them wherever they want to interact with us, and commit to impressing them. If we do, they’ll get out there and advertise for us. Since peer-to-peer recommendation is the most effective marketing, that’s money in the bank.

Social marketing is about forming relationships, same as how individuals use social. We want them to know us, trust us, and get real value from knowing us. That requires honesty and transparency that before now might have been uncomfortable. I propose that if we clearly make everything we do about our customers’ wants and needs, we’ll have nothing to hide. It will solidify customer loyalty, retention, and thus, revenue.

These things can’t happen without certain tools and structural changes in the organization. There are social cloud platforms that integrate social management into all of the necessary areas: CRM, customer service, sales, marketing automation, content marketing, ecommerce, etc. This is will give us a real-time, complete view of the customer so their every interaction with us is attentive, personalized, accurate, relevant, and satisfying.

Without it, we’re just a collage of disjointed systems, each gathering data that informs only its own departmental silo. The customer is voluntarily giving us everything we need to know about them to win them over, but we have to start listening and putting the pieces together.

There’s still time. Brands are coming to terms with this transition to the socially enabled enterprise, but so far they aren’t moving very fast. Like us, they’re dealing with long-entrenched technologies and processes. CMO’s and CIO’s have to form new partnerships. Content operations have to be initiated and properly staffed and funded. Various departments must be able to utilize interconnected big data.

What will separate the winners from the losers? Well chief, that’s why I’m writing you. It’s in your hands. These initiatives won’t get the kind of priority and seriousness that inspire actual deadlines & action unless they come from your desk. You have to be the champion of customer centricity. You have to be our change agent. You have to be our innovator. Otherwise, it’s going to be business as usual, and that puts us in a very vulnerable place.


Your Team

Photo: Gary Scott, stock.xchng

Tuesday Sep 17, 2013

New Study Reveals the Degree to Which Social Business is Being Embraced

office chairsSpecifically, what are organizations in 2013 really thinking about the importance of becoming a socially enabled enterprise? A study from Oracle, Leader Networks and Social Media Today presented for the first time this morning at Social Media Today’s “Social Shakeup” in Atlanta gives us some interesting insight.

In the midst of changing roles for IT and marketing thanks to the social revolution, we wanted to take a good look at how social platform adoption is affecting internal operations and customer-facing initiatives. Respondents were organizations with 100 or more employees that use a social platform, representing over 20 industries and 52 countries.

We’ve talked a lot about the socially enabled enterprise in previous blogs, so maybe it’s time to clearly define it: “A set of collaborative processes that have the potential to yield improved business processes that are customer-driven such as faster time to market with new products and services, more successful research and development outcomes and refined market messages that are explicitly influenced by customer needs.”

Do organizations want to be socially enabled? Are they putting what’s needed in place to achieve it? Are they reorganizing internally to accommodate it? See the full PowerPoint and sign up to get the white paper in its entirety upon its October release. But…

I don’t like waiting either, so let’s go ahead and give you the highlights.

chart 1

  • Organizations are definitely adopting social platforms. Most are using 3-5 of them.
  • The bigger organizations (50,000+ employees) are much farther along in becoming socially enabled enterprises. Nearly half of them say they already are socially enabled.
  • 63% think it’s very important that their company be socially enabled, and becoming socially enabled is regarded as part of the strategic agenda.
  • The transition toward being socially enabled isn’t expected to be a cakewalk. 43% of executives say it’ll take their organizations over a year to truly leverage social throughout their businesses.
  • At the moment, marketing metrics like awareness, customer satisfaction and share of voice are the top social business performance metrics. That’s followed by lead gen & sales and new product development.
  • Respondents anticipate significant growth in the use of insights from social platforms. But right now, most use them within departments for informal learning.
  • The growth in social platform utilization has had a significant or transformational impact on the way 1/3 of respondents interact with customers. 60% plan to integrate social business metrics into customer care initiatives in the next 12 months.
  • Interestingly, organizations outside of the U.S. are significantly more likely to use social business insights for new product development and R&D.

Out of this, a profile of the socially enabled enterprise has started to emerge. It’s a business that has a strategy for using social insights to improve business functions, that’s linking social strategies to operational plans, and that has strong & collaborative leadership.

Is that you?

Group VP of the Oracle Social Cloud Platform Meg Bear said, “As this study shows, business executives now understand that creating a socially enabled enterprise can create better customer experiences, enable more responsive internal networks and drive organizational efficiencies. This combination gives organizations of all sizes a significant competitive advantage.”

So if you happen to like having the advantage, don’t forget to get on the list for the October release!

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Aug 30, 2013

How Great Social Marketing is Like Football

football fieldWith apologies to our international readers…specifically American football.  The air is charged with excitement and anticipation right now. The long months without the epic battles football provides have ended and our teams are once again hitting the field. I don’t have a football blog, but it did occur to me how much of what I write about social marketing can be compared to aspects of the sport we love so much.

The Draft

This is when teams determine which players on the market will best shore up areas of weakness. Or they might be drafted to position them for big contributions in future seasons. Social marketing managers should stay aware of who the hot prospects are and do the courting necessary to get them on the team. You aren’t doing content creators and social marketers a favor by hiring them. Everybody wants the good ones.

Training Camp

This is where players are conditioned and learn the plays. In social marketing, there’s training to be done in terms of making sure everyone on the team knows the strategy, policy, rules and goals. You don’t draft players then just say, “Okay, now go play.”


During training camp, players who don’t pan out wind up getting cut. In social marketing, I’m not talking about cutting people as much as about being willing to cut practices, tactics or tools that just aren’t working. You might be attached, it might not be easy, but it’s what you need to do if you intend to win.

Coaching Staff

In football, there’s a head coach. But there are also coaches with very specific responsibilities. Offense, defense, special teams, quarterbacks, kickers…all have specialists obsessing over their peak performance. Each player also focuses on a specific role and specialty. The more you staff specialists instead of “oh, that’s the guy that handles all our social media for us,” the more of a competitive threat you’ll be.

The Playbook

Beyond overall strategy, policies and goals, your social marketing players must have detailed knowledge of the plays you’ll be running. Not only should each person know what they’re supposed to do, they need to know what everybody else is doing. In football it’s teamwork. In social marketing we call in integration.

Watching Film

Teams watch film of their competition and film of themselves. Execute, measure, analyze, adjust, and execute again based on what you learned. Analytics is how you get better at what you do and prep for the next game.

Calling Audibles

Quarterbacks can see how the defense lines up and change the play from the field if the original wasn’t going to get them anywhere. When the results of your posts aren’t getting engagement, you’ve got to be nimble enough to shift tactics ASAP and try something that hits the right chord.

Driving Toward the Goal

There are several ways to get the ball across the goal line, i.e. running, passing, and kicking. Of course, you’ve got to know where the goal line is and every player must be working in tandem to get there. There are several social strategies you can use, but there’s got to be a goal. You then use whatever combo of tactics gets you across it.

The Right Gear

From the helmet to the cleats, everything that’s on a football player serves a purpose that contributes toward achieving the goal. In social marketing, not having the right publishing, listening, monitoring and engagement capabilities will put you at a distinct disadvantage against your competition. You could get hurt.

Fan Passion

There are few places where you’ll find a higher level of passion than in the stands of a football stadium. Fans so closely identify with and feel like a part of their teams their very emotions are tied to how the team does. They’re proud to wear the team colors. They’ll tell anyone what team they root for. They’ll gather with others based on their love of the same team. And they’ll scream themselves hoarse to give their team the home field advantage. In social marketing, we can only dream of igniting that kind of passion, engagement and emotional connection to our brands.

But it’s a worthy victory to strive for. So suit up, get fired up, and leave everything out on the field.

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Aug 09, 2013

The Social Cloud Primer

templecloudThe foundation for the socially-enabled enterprise is cloud-based platforms and software. It has increasingly become the accepted foundation for facilitating integrated processes and data across the organization. And there’s a lot of good news about that. After all, who thinks better efficiencies, more actionable data, improved customer experiences and lower costs sounds like a bad idea?

First, a refresher on what it means to be a socially-enabled enterprise.

Social has become essential for every consumer-facing department and business application. As silos crumble, an integrated approach to data is no longer an innovation or luxury…it’s what is required to remain relevant and competitive.

The socially-enabled enterprise is key for modern customer experiences. Social users are perpetually connected, mobile, and vocal. And because they expect gratifying, real-time responses, corporate workflows are getting spun like a top. Altimeter Group says companies manage an average 178 corporate-owned social media accounts, meaning that for social, systems are needed for publishing, analytics, listening, moderation, engagement, paid social, content management, social app development, marketing automation and admin…none of which can be islands unto themselves.

And that’s just social data. Enterprise data growth is expected to continue at 40% through 2020. The ideal scenario is for the value of all that social data you’re now pulling in to be amplified via integration with other core business applications. Now you’re discovering insights you didn’t know existed, you’re developing dynamic, real-time dashboards, reports and alerts for rapid decision-making, and you’re maxing out your Customer Service, Sales, and Support applications.

About now, you’re getting an idea of the speed, flexibility and processing power this ideal scenario calls for, and that’s where the cloud floats to the rescue. Only a cloud-based, enterprise infrastructure, platform and applications suite that extends social’s power across all consumer-facing touch points can give you the social insight + enterprise data combo that make actionable, real-time views of the customer work.

A 2012 Gartner Data Center Conference poll showed almost 9 out of 10 organizations were planning, piloting, or already using a private cloud. Others are deploying public/private hybrid clouds. But increasingly, businesses are seeing a) the need to process and utilize the vast amounts of Big Data now available and b) the need to rapidly, confidently deploy technologies that become available faster and faster.

With that kind of workload becoming the norm, on-site, traditional IT infrastructures are quickly becoming the most expensive, most inefficient proposition available. Data analysis is faster in the cloud, resources can be added and deployed as needed, and stakeholders can tap into the same data pool to satisfy their varied goals.

However…despite the benefits of systems being integrated in the cloud, many businesses are choosing the quagmire of using multiple cloud vendors for multiple processes. Recently, polled business managers reported staff downtime, missed business deadlines, and stunted innovation initiatives thanks to poor/no integration of cloud applications from multiple vendors. The 2013 InformationWeek State of Cloud Computing Survey showed 66% are using 2-5 providers, and 33% don’t integrate cloud services. It’s a one shop, legitimately integrated enterprise cloud that delivers the kinds of user experiences that make competitors sweat.

Adoption is happening. In 2012, spending on cloud tech was expected to increase by about 25%. IT departments inside the enterprise are standing toe to toe with the future, and must decide whether or not to up their strategic importance by embracing its changing role. Because with the enormity of intelligence that social offers, data collection, processing and analysis is the only hope of bringing order to metrics chaos so brands can fully reap the monetary benefits of intimately knowing their customer.

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Jul 19, 2013

Involver to Oracle: Gold Rush to Modern Marketing

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

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

Pre-Engagement Era (the Gold Rush of 2009)

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

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

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

Engagement Era (present day)

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

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

Marketers want more active engagement with their social media efforts:

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

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

Social Relationship Management provides:

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

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

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

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Jul 12, 2013

Social Marketing: What We Should Do Right Now

checkmarkNobody likes wasting their time, or their effort, or their money.  That’s why it’s handy to know, at least in general, what does and doesn’t constitute effective social marketing.

The infographic and slideshow farms have been very busy, presenting several articles and studies that all speak to what the social user wants and is thinking. So let’s do some listening and act on what users are telling us.

Mary Meeker’s 2013 Internet Trends report asked what social media people are using. Facebook is still #1 but…was the only network to decline.  YouTube experienced the strongest growth, with Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn rounding out the top 5.
So we should: Keep maximizing and resourcing Facebook, but wake up to the fact that people like to get info and entertainment via video, preferably short ones.

We also learn from the study how hard it is to get Americans to share content. Saudi Arabia shares the most at 60%, while the US fell below the global 24% average at 15%.  Japan shares the least.
So we should: Realize most people only share if the content triggers an emotion, or if sharing it casts a positive reflection on them.  Our content can’t just “lay there.”

The disconnect between marketers and the real world remains stunning. While only 6% of the public spends their media time with print, we put 23% of our ad spend toward it.  Meanwhile, as users spend 12% of their time on mobile, we threw a mere 3% of ad spend that way.
So we should: Give ourselves a good face-palm, say “Duh,” and market where the people are.  

The amount of content created grew 9 times in 5 years. Over 500 million photos uploaded a day, 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube per minute. And think audio is dead? 11 hours of sound was uploaded to SoundCloud per minute. 
So we should: Recognize we’ve got content competition not just from our competition, but from anyone with a phone.  See section above about how our content can’t just lay there.

45% of Groupon transactions in North America are from mobile, up from less than 15% two years ago. Tablet growth is even faster than smartphone growth.  People want access to everything no matter where they are.
So we should: Develop experiences with the device user first in mind.  Not only will mobile use only go up, the study says it will soon be wearable/drivable and hands-free.

Surveyed CEO’s said they now think technological factors will have the biggest impact on their organizations, second only to market forces.
So we should: Disrupt the enterprise, scary as that is.  Socially enable it so all customer touch point experiences and analytics can be integrated into actionable data.  That’s where social ROI comes from.

A Ypulse study of 14-30 year-olds sought to learn where they get their information. Social was at the top of the list with 68%, followed by word of mouth. 
So we should: Recognize that social IS word of mouth, and we have a golden opportunity to not only be a source of usable info but to have it spread credibly.  Key word: “usable.”

66% of this age group have little confidence the news they get is accurate. Information sources have forfeited their credibility.  The audience is highly guarded.
So we should: Begin the long process now of building trust through honesty, transparency, sincerity, humility, and making sure we know the customer intimately. 

69% of 14-30-year-olds prefer to be informed by people who are older, not by people of the same age.
So we should: Not embarrass ourselves pandering to young users, desperately trying to be “hip.”  Oh, and just being 22 doesn’t qualify someone to be a community manager.

Lastly, our friends at Georgia Tech compiled 14 things that make a real difference in your ability to get Twitter followers. They didn’t study brands, but what works for individuals applies to us as well.  The top factor: when people see a friend follow an account, they’re more likely to follow it.
So we should: Recognize success begets success.  Retweets attract more followers as well.  So get momentum by acting on these next suggestions.

Inform. Make sure tweets have a target and a point. Use clear, simple language. And don’t pack your tweets with worthless hashtags. 
So we should: Realize even one little tweet is content.  Don’t ask your customers what they’re doing this weekend.  That’s generic filler.  And make tweets quickly readable.  Cool it with the symbols, hashtags, and hieroglyphics.

That’s a lot of things we should be doing. But, since they’re responses to what the audiences we’re trying to win over and turn into our advocates are telling us they like and want, perhaps it’s high time we got serious about following their lead.

Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday May 14, 2013

Can Social Marketing Really Get You the Growth You Want?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday May 10, 2013

Social Marketing Secrets from My Parking Problem

booted carAs marketers, and specifically as social marketers, we’re often guilty of not putting ourselves in the shoes of the consumer. As masters of over-thinking, we work feverishly to figure out what will “work” with our target market, without ever stopping to think about what works on us.

That’s right, we’re not only marketers, we’re consumers too. We are somebody’s target. Does it not follow logically then that the kinds of things that are effective on you might also be effective on your brand’s audience? That your desires, reactions and behaviors might also be theirs?

I was reminded of this when I recently had a (gasp) positive and effective experience being marketed to. It wasn’t social. In fact it was quite guerilla and old school. But it holds core lessons for social strategy.

I’ve been paying daily to park in a lot with an “in by 9am” rate. Problems include spaces sometimes not being available and the price going up to $20 on days when events were happening downtown. There’s no in and out, so I can’t leave for lunch and come back without paying again. And it’s not covered parking, so everything from the summer sun to inconsiderate birds wreck their havoc.

Then the daily rate went up. That’s when I started getting cards on my windshield, something that normally makes me quite irate. But…the card was about a special $50/month deal in a nearby parking deck. Brilliant!

Here’s a business that knew what area competitors were doing, identified a resulting pain point for the competition’s customers, offered a proposition of real value that spoke to that pain point, and presented it at exactly the time and place where the pain was most top of mind. Score.

I assumed the special $50 rate was for one or two introductory months. But when I emailed that question to the deck, they responded (right away) that the rate was good for as long as I renewed. Game-Set-Match. Guess who had me as a customer but lost me. Guess who won my business, has me feeling good about their brand and telling this story.

All of the elements of this success are available to you via the social-enabled enterprise. With an integrated platform you can do (at scale with marketing automation encompassing paid, owned and earned) what my parking deck did; watch the competition to see if they’re giving you an opportunity, listen to potential customers who post their desires, deliver your proposition of real value to them when and where it will be best received, respond quickly and positively to potential customer inquiries, and leverage opportunities for customers to share with friends how happy they are with you.

See? You had the secret to effective social marketing with you all along.

Photo: Samuel Rosa, stock.xchng

Friday Apr 26, 2013

4 Steps to Social Selling

No solicitorsSocial selling has all but done away with the image of poor Willy Loman, the guys of Glengarry Glenn Ross, or the door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who cleans everyone’s carpets for free then doesn’t get a sale. Those guys were cold callers who didn’t know their prospects. Didn’t even know they weren’t prospects at all.

But even the most veteran salespeople will tell you relationships are what usually get the deal closed. So it’s mighty convenient that social is all about connecting and fostering relationships. How senseless not to use social to do just that with customers and prospects, or not to use social to know as much about buyers as possible.

Ta-da! Marketing automation + social data + social listening & engagement is ready to rock your monthly billings. CSO Insights found “effective use of sales intelligence increases revenue productivity per sales rep by 17%.” Social is a fountain of sales intelligence, and there are 4 steps to positioning yourself for that kind of win.

1. Be a good, active social citizen
Would you buy sunglasses from a longtime personal contact on Facebook or someone that randomly pinged you solely for the purpose of selling you sunglasses? People buy from people they know.

  • Get to know prospects by being on the networks they favor.
  • Be part of the groups they’re in, sharing content of real and relevant value to that group.
  • Be consistent, perpetually growing your network so your own fans and rave reviewers will be there to legitimize you.
  • Make sure all your social profiles are accurate and transparent so prospects can research you.
  • Make sure your contact info is on all your profiles so prospects can reach you.
  • Don’t be constantly pitching your product to every eye that can see you.

2. Listen and learn
Do they teach in sales school that often, the fastest path to a deal is to just shut up and listen? If not, they should. Listening to your prospects’ conversations reveal issues you can step in and resolve. You won’t be a pest, you’ll be a hero.

  • Honest, it’s not stalking. Be aware of what your prospects are thinking and talking about.
  • Look for indications in their social posts that signal they may need your solution.
  • Use the keywords in your social listening platform (you do have one, right?) to get alerted whenever a prospect is experiencing a pain point.
  • Use that same platform to keep an eye on multiple social networks at once so you can seize all such opportunities in real time.
  • With social listening, insert yourself into the buyer’s current stream of thought as opposed to trying direct their stream of though to what you want.

3. Engage at the right time, in the right way
You’re not cold calling, which is a time burner anyway. According to InsideView, over 90% of CEO’s said they never respond to cold emails or calls. Instead, you’re approaching the buyer due to their publicly expressed problem.

  • Craft your social relationship so you’re not seen as a vendor, but as a trusted advisor. Invest the time to foster that image.
  • Connection rates through LinkedIn are 7 times greater than email. Their InMail yields an open rate often over 20%. Connect in ways they trust and are comfortable with.
  • Studies show it can take an average of 6.2 email/phone/voicemail exchanges and 9 business days to set up a meeting. Social tools can reduce the friction.
  • Engage buyers early in their search for a solution. They do a lot of research on social, so if you’re listening, you can be the first to solve their problem.
  • Connect prospects to others who’ve used your solution to positive effect. It’s greatly reassuring, and studies show social users trust peers with no vested interest much more than brands.
  • Make sure your solution is clear, that it’s about them and their immediate needs, and that you’re making them confident enough to take the desired action.

4. Use data to apply what you learn, enterprise-wide
There are few things sadder than really great customer insight, much of it gleaned from social, sitting unapplied to all of the customer touch points across the enterprise, including sales.

  • Absorb integrated data so consumer preferences and behavior can be predicted, and the effectiveness of sales approaches and channels can be adjusted.
  • Understand that social affords you real time info that’s squandered if real time responses aren’t a part of the strategy.
  • Marketing automation technology is driving the convergence of sales and marketing. Marketers must be sellers, meaning leads and sales get added to awareness on the marketer’s to-do list.
  • In “Successful Social Selling,” Matt Heinz reminds us the goal is to get qualified prospects, not followers. That calls for different metrics to gauge the success of social selling.
  • Integrated marketing/sales approaches help track how effective marketing campaigns are across varying media such as mail, email and social.
  • A holistic approach such as the Oracle/Eloqua combo that activates all data and generates deep-dive analytics will pull marketing closer to sales and every other department across the enterprise, so the insight can enable superior customer experiences across all channels.

Much has been written about the growing critical nature of the customer experience. Keeping in mind prospects approached via social are part of that customer experience imperative will encourage A-game social sellers to demand the tech tools to listen to and engage potential customers more effectively.

Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Apr 05, 2013

Multitaskers Force Brands to Be Everywhere

multitaskingThe old joke used to be that someone couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.  Now we can walk, chew gum, do some needlepoint, play Words With Friends, listen to an audiobook, do isometric stomach crunches, hum, take in the smells of the city, and mentally go over your to-do list…all at the same time.

We are a multitasking species. We’re everywhere, and we’re using everything at our disposal to accomplish tasks, amuse ourselves, or take in information. Multiple people multitasking means multiple devices, which leaves brands trying to figure out which devices to focus on.

Well, you are also expected to multitask. So the answer is “all of them.” Your instinct might be to say, “Hey, they’re only going to engage with us one device at a time, and if we’re on every device, we’re just going to have our device strategies cannibalizing each other.”

A presentation at Oracle CloudWorld NYC with SVP Product Strategy for Oracle Social Reggie Bradford and NBCUniversal CMO John Miller showed otherwise.

The Olympics were the most watched event in TV history - 217 million viewers. 82 million were reached via digital platforms. There were 2 billion Page views, 65 million live streams and 8 million app downloads.

As it turns out, the more screens/ways there were to experience Olympic content, the more time was spent on all devices, with no cannibalization. Overall usage and engagement simply went…up.

With TV only, time spent consuming was 4 hours, 19 minutes. When the PC/laptop was added in, it was 5:18. Add in mobile, it was 6:50. Toss in tablets and we’re at 8:29. Not only did more screen increase overall consumption time, the addition of secondary screens such as tablet resulted in increased viewing on the primary screen, TV.

Consumer multitasking doesn’t hurt, it helps.

25% of time spent watching the competitions on TV was accompanied by the use of another screen. 50% of site, app, and mobile users watched while watching TV. And, of course, social fueled engagement, with 7 out of 10 viewers 13-34 saying it “made them more interested in watching the Games on TV.”

Okay, you might not be the Olympics, but the message is that when people find content they like, they seek out more of it in multiple places. That means we should strategize across all devices based on consumers’ multi-device behaviors, which a Microsoft study broke down into 4 categories in order of frequency.

Content Grazing: using 2+ screens simultaneously to do unrelated things.  
Investigative Spider-Webbing: using one device to get info related to what you’re doing on another.
Quantum Journey: using multiple devices sequentially to accomplish a task.
Social Spider-Webbing: sharing content on one device about what you did or found on another.

Does this apply to brands and revenue? Google/Nielsen found out 63% of shoppers used multiple devices to help with holiday purchases last year. And PricewaterhouseCoopers says 56% of US consumers spent more with a retailer since they started shopping across multiple channels.

What brands offer must match what consumers are doing. And that means multitasking on multiple devices.



Tuesday Mar 26, 2013

CMO's and CIO's Should Be Repositioning for Today's Social

The following is a post from Oracle SVP of Product Strategy - Oracle Social Reggie Bradford, as first appeared in Social Media Today.

pocketwatchHave you ever noticed not very many people want to listen to the person who keeps talking about the way things used to be? It’s those who talk about how things are, and where things are headed, that seem to get the most attention. So let’s have a brief moment of sympathy for the enterprise CMOs and CIOs who don’t believe their worlds are changing…quickly.

Somebody audaciously entered the hallowed halls of the corporation: the customer. They now feel they actually have a say in a brand’s product, service, tone, look…you name it. They feel this way because they’ve banded together. They have megaphones and can get very loud, very fast. They’re always connected (no matter where they are, thanks to mobile). They know they collectively represent value to you, so they fully expect good experiences. This is what social media has created.

The job of the enterprise is simply to adapt. I say “simply” knowing that it’s anything but simple. Those consumers are forcing infrastructure changes, policy changes, priority changes and role changes. And all that’s happening in large organizations where change is rarely an overnight affair. An unprecedented collaboration of people, processes and technology is being called for.

Social was once a “marketing thing.” Not anymore. It’s become increasingly essential in every consumer interaction across the enterprise.  From CRM to sales to HR to product development, there’s an unprecedented gold mine of social data that, when married with enterprise data, can paint an actionable picture of the customer so as to create differentiating consumer experiences. Conversations about holistic, socially enabled enterprises are increasingly common. 

Forward-thinking CMOs are plunging into tech head-on. They’re collaborating with IT to leverage social/mobile/cloud technologies faster. They want to understand digital, have a voice on tech matters, align with sales for consistent brand and consumer experiences, and move toward proving the ROI behind the spend.  Gartner predicts the CMO will even outspend the CIO on IT by 2017.  

For their part, the CIO is realizing everything they do is about the customer. InformationWeek found more IT leaders give their relationship with marketing weaker marks than any other business area. They’re highly effective at what they do, but “what they do” now has to extend beyond functional excellence and move toward pioneering customer-focused innovation that speaks to the CX. 

CMOs must see the science behind the art. CIOs must see the art behind the science.

It’s no longer a matter of whether or not to focus on social, but how roles will be reorganized around social, plus figuring out what partner can insure effective execution of the social enterprise. Plenty of vendors offer pieces of the puzzle, but social can’t sit in vendor silos if the goal is true integration/accountability. The growing CX imperative requires a scalable, end-to-end system that facilitates satisfying and profitable interactions, no matter the touch point. Social marketing, social selling, social commerce, social service, social HR, social recruiting, and social collaboration…fully realized with global enterprise applications.

Companies that truly understand social lives at the core of a powerful CX will be reflecting that in the reshaping roles of the CMO and CIO. We hope you will explore this changing landscape further by joining Oracle’s upcoming webinar discussing this topic and more with myself and Forrester’s lead analyst David Cooperstein, in a videocast March 28, 11am EDT/8am PDT.

Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Mar 19, 2013

Social is Driving CMO/CIO Role Changes

drivingIsn’t life funny?  One minute you think you completely have a handle on your role as an enterprise CMO or CIO and can get all the way to retirement without those roles changing. The next minute, those roles and required skillsets have been turned on their heads.

You have social to thank for that. Oracle VP of Product Strategy for Cloud-Social Erika Brookes recently presented to a packed house at the Dachis Social Business Summit what forces are driving these internal changes so quickly.

There was a time social was dismissed, if not altogether laughed off. Many executives bet it was a passing fad with no tangible value to the enterprise. Bad bet. Fast Company editor Robert Safian wrote, “Social media is not a fad. It is a powerful, global communication revolution that requires new approaches for all businesses.” Specifically, social revolutionized how consumers interact with brands.

You should care about that.

There’s strength in numbers, and customers have connected with each other. In fact they’re always connected. They’ve kicked “word-of-mouth” into hyperdrive, with all the potential pluses and minuses that brings. Millions of conversations, many about you, happen every minute, in real time across multiple social networks. eMarketer says social is the #1 activity online. 63% of smartphone users are social networkers.

You get the picture. Today’s empowered, go-anywhere, socially connected consumer is forcing change in business. The transfer of control from the brand to the customer is every company’s new reality.

How have corporations reacted? Altimeter Group says they now manage an average 178 corporate social accounts each. That’s a wealth of potential social customer data that, combined with enterprise data, could result in a differentiating dream CX. But it can only happen if the CMO and CIO accept role changes and embrace the holistic, socially enabled enterprise.

The perfect storm of social, mobile, and cloud lets marketers leverage technologies faster, so the forward-thinking CMO is plunging into tech head-on. Gartner predicts they’ll spend more on technology than CIO’s by 2017, getting to the science behind the art by:

  • Better understanding digital and technologies
  • Gaining a stronger voice on tech matters at the executive table
  • Increasingly partnering with the likes of the CIO and CTO
  • Leveraging data to intimately understand the consumer
  • Aligning with sales for a more consistent brand and consumer experience
  • Proving the ROI behind the spend

InformationWeek found more IT leaders give their relationship with marketing weaker marks than any other business area. Participants at the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Network conference set forth some top going-forward priorities:

  • They should be more customer-focused and knowledgeable about the business
  • They should drive innovation by creating a culture that accepts change and risk
  • They must actively free themselves from the past, maintaining a functional excellence but also being willing to look beyond functionality alone

In other words, CIO’s must start seeing the art behind the science.

These changes aren’t easy, especially for the largest of enterprises where the most upside exists. A technology partner that can seamlessly extend social’s power across every consumer touch point and marry social and enterprise data for a real-time view of the customer is indispensible in creating, in concert with these new breeds of CMO and CIO, the most powerful CX imaginable.


Tuesday Mar 12, 2013

The Social Enterprise at SXSW: Why Community Managers Need Data and Marketing Integration

Guest post from Roland Smart, Oracle VP of Social and Community Marketing:

AustinSouth by Southwest has evolved considerably over the last few years. As a hotbed of innovation, it’s still a premier showcase for confirmed and would-be futurists: earlier this week, attendees were treated to demos of new 3D printers, which will supposedly one day mass-produce electric vehicles, homes, and — according to some hopeful people we met — spaceships.

On a more terrestrial note, it’s been exciting to witness the increasing enterprise participation at SXSW. The programming certainly reflects this: this year’s schedule was packed with panels and workshops on social business design and social media measurement.

It goes without saying, but the best thing about SXSW is the people. Our time in Texas has included wonderful conversations with hundreds of community managers, developers, and marketing executives who are all dedicated to innovating on behalf of the social enterprise.

SXSW has given us a great opportunity to share Oracle's newest technologies and integrations, and we’ve been thrilled by the response so far to our vision for Social Relationship Management. Just as important, we’ve been fortunate to learn so much from our fellow SXSW attendees, many of whom are leaders in the brand, agency, vendor, and enterprise worlds.

While I don't have the space to list all of my SXSW findings, let me share one crucial social enterprise lesson that has popped up again and again here in Austin:

The power of your community manager is directly related to the power of your social analytics tools. Let me explain by way of some industry background:

Even just a few years ago, it was common to come across large enterprises that saw their community managers as the functional equivalents of customer service representatives. Now, though, the community manager often assumes a number of roles as needed.

For example, the community manager might aggregate customers' qualitative feedback in order to validate research done by product marketing teams. Or, in light of the relentless growth of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, they might serve as a kind of social data translator — someone who determines customer attitudes and preferences from a giant pile of status updates, tweets, and clicks.

For the social enterprise, defining such responsibilities for your community manager is only one part of the puzzle; the second part is actually equipping this person with the tools they need to carry out their job.

One case in point — earlier this week, I attended a great SXSW workshop entitled "The Community Manager: Enter the C-Suite." In this session, a number of community managers discussed how they had been charged with providing reports on brand sentiment as it was instantiated on social networks. However, in the absence of dependable tools, these community mangers struggled to distinguish real brand sentiment from social chaff. One attendee even related how they were once asked to painstakingly and manually calculate (really, invent) a random “sentiment score” for every tweet produced by their brand's followers.

The workshop also allowed me to hear more about the challenges that community managers face in valuing different activities across multiple social networks. I had an enlightening conversation with another attendee whose social marketing efforts are centered on a thriving Facebook Page and a growing collection of YouTube product how-to videos. For this community manager, top-line statistics included likes, organic shares of stories and status updates, clicks on Facebook Sponsored Stories, and unique video views.

Now, notice the many types of social metrics that this community manager must learn how to evaluate and compare:

  • Organic content versus paid advertising
  • Views and impressions versus person-to-person sharing
  • Short engagement paths (e.g., a click on a Sponsored Story leads immediately to an external landing page) versus longer engagement paths (e.g., repeat video views over an extended period of time ultimately lead to sign-ups and sales conversions).

Here's the upshot: For a community manager — for someone who often creates and/or delivers customer-facing content and is often responsible for assessing the efficacy of this content — it would be difficult if not impossible for them to measure, learn from, see the relationships between, and iterate against these social data if these data remain trapped within disparate platforms.

If one person likes your Facebook Page some time this month in order to gain access to your newest white paper; and then retweets one of your messages a week later; and then signs up for your email list three months later; and then buys your product or service after attending your webinar six months later…given that we know such enterprise conversion paths are common, the key question for you is this: Does your social enterprise solution allow you to track such critical activity — and on an end-to-end basis?

The people we've met and the conversations we've had at SXSW have inspired us to continue innovating across the entire universe of our social solutions. As my colleague John Nolt wrote on this blog last week, Oracle is already leading the way in offering the industry's first unified end-to-end social management solution for the enterprise through Oracle Social Relationship Management. That said, you should know we’re just getting started.

Saturday Mar 09, 2013

SXSW Saturday – What Oracle Heard, Saw and Did

Day 2 of South by Southwest in Austin, and Oracle is doing everything it can to be everywhere. Lots of sessions and takeaways today so let’s get to it.

Grab Bag

-Oracle SRM is showcasing listening capabilities at SXSW. Check it out.

From “How Twitter Has Changed How We Watch TV.”

-1 in 3 Twitter users tweet about TV at some point.

-People still like to watch TV "with" people. Of those who tweet about TV, 76% do it while watching TV live.

-The shows that really get Twitter buzzing have elements of real-time unpredictability (sports, reality, awards)

-Think it's catching on? There were 14 million Super Bowl tweets last year. This year it was 24 million.

-The "House of Cards" dilemma: will such all-at-once series releases challenge the TV tweeting experience?

-Tweet or die. If a show is getting no Twitter buzz, it's taken as a sign the show isn't going to work.

-Twitter's the new water cooler. Existing fans are used to recruit new viewers, and it's working.

-Tweeting as characters from the show drives higher interaction. Who's tweeting for YOUR brand?

-Fans like to be tribal. 51% tweet about TV to feel connected to other show fans.

-3 out of 10 people check out a show because they heard about it on Twitter. Think things are any different for your brand?

-It's a data thing. Live shows like American Idol do Twitter polls for real-time feedback that's then incorporated into the show

-Take the incoming with a grain of salt. Twitter TV audiences are younger and generally more negative.

-Conversations around TV are going beyond Twitter and onto other platforms, like Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

-79% of TV viewers visit Facebook while watching TV. That's no small number.

-When branded content is right for the channel, it will spread. WAY too much of it is not right…and are ads, not content

-Live tweeting encourages live viewing vs. on-demand, and live viewing means they'll see the ads.

-Big question: how much do viewers want to influence TV plots? How much do your fans want to influence your product?

From “Brand Fans, the New Brand Marketers”

-It's about crowdsourcing the voice of your fans and making it your marketing voice.

-We humans are all brands, and we’re all marketers.

-The more “360-degrees” and the more screens your campaign is executed across, the more successful and relevant it will be today.

-The fan is becoming a partner in the marketing process. That’s what’s new.

-Crowdsourcing gives you insights your traditional marketing research can’t provide.

-Don't go into social defensive and nervous. Trust your brand and your fans.

-The strongest agencies are the ones who understand creativity has changed and embrace that change to innovate.

-The agencies that embrace the community side of brands have a better understanding of what creative to deliver.

From “Going Social: You Got the Tux, but Can You Dance?”

-Shame shame, social teams respond to complaints ASAP while too many physical businesses still hide from customers.

-Quick...who at your brand responds to social communications? Do they know where to route problems?

-The Holy Grail is connecting customer ID to social ID. Wow, then keep your eye on Oracle.

From “Less is More: Why 5 Comments Beat 5000 Likes”

-Everybody likes "Likes," but they're deceptive. They take no effort and require no investment.

-Comments take effort, genuine care, and start conversations. Likes don't necessarily convert to money

-Comments increase time spent on a site by 23%. Comments increase the average number of Pages viewed by 13%.

-It's great you're getting comments on your Page but...are you participating and commenting on other Pages?

From “Real Talk: The Social Customer Service Shift”

-Get your wooing skills on. Customers need to be romanced.

-One of our fave themes: social isn't a silo - it extends into customer service and beyond.

-Your regular customer care team should own social customer service & it should be integrated with other departments.

-Ha. Which is worse: your competitors knowing your plan or your employees not knowing your plan?

-CX expectations have changed. You don't have the luxury of putting customers last.

-If you don't trust them, you better train them. Your employees are your social brand ambassadors.

-Smart. Chase pulled product experts from divisions and trained them on brand, social and CX.

-Marketing makes promises to customers that must be upheld by customer service or it's a huge fail.

-It's called mirroring, and it works. Look at what customers write, and respond in the same context.

-Suggested model: all employees get social training and select employees get a certification.

-The benefits of listening: data from social at Chase is being used to inform social marketing strategy

-Super true, and pick the right vendor. Every brand should have an active listening program.

-Want social ROI? How about all the customer data social customer service can provide?

-Predictive analytics will help you know your customer.

-Does the emperor have clothes? Social will quickly expose all your support inefficiencies.


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