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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Oracle Outlines Plans for RightNow Integration


Oracle executives on Tuesday gave a more detailed picture of their plans to integrate technologies gained through October's US$1.5 billion acquisition of RightNow, maker of cloud-based software for customer service through the Web, social networks and contact centers.
Other Oracle executives outlined the company's bid to reinvent the notion of CRM (customer relationship management) software, discussing how RightNow's applications will work as part of a continuum involving Oracle technologies for e-commerce, natural language search, customer segmentation and other areas, many of which it also procured through acquisitions.The RightNow deal, which closed last week, "is a big deal to us, it's core to us," Oracle co-president Mark Hurd said during a webcast event. "It's about delivering superior customer service." Oracle has "a very aggressive plan to invest in RightNow and build a stronger road map than ever before," he added.
"In a very real sense the basic rules of business have changed," said Greg Gianforte, RightNow's founder and CEO. "Globalization has increased customer choice and supply now exceeds demand for most products. This gives consumers power." Products are also becoming commodities faster than ever before, with new features quickly copied by "fast followers," he said.
New features aren't enough, traditional marketing programs are less effective, and social networks can greatly amplify customer complaints as well as positive remarks, Gianforte added. "The only thing left is word of mouth. The only way to do that is deliver great experiences."
But the buying process "doesn't start around customer service," said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of product development, who oversees Oracle's entire software catalog. "It starts from the time the customer feels the need for a product." There is a series of "touch points" throughout the lifecycle of a product purchase, and Oracle has the technology to reach every one of them, he added.
First off, Oracle's FatWire Web content and software can provide customers with compelling material as they research their buy, while Oracle's Social Network and Siebel Marketing application could bolster targeted marketing efforts, according to Kurian's presentation. Then the vendor's Endeca search technology can help customers find the right product for their needs, with its ATG Commerce product supplying an e-commerce foundation to execute the sale.
Further along the continuum lies Oracle's financials and supply chain software. RightNow's lineup of applications then completes it by covering ongoing product usage, maintenance and recommendation scenarios, according to Oracle.
For example, Oracle plans to integrate RightNow Service with ATG Commerce, Kurian said. "Now if you're an agent, you get an up-to-the-minute view of who the customer is, what they have bought," he said.
Oracle intends to deliver these and other integrations "on a very aggressive schedule," Kurian said, while providing no dates.
He noted that the business-to-business buying experience has different customs than the consumer world. B-to-B customers may research purchases on the Web, but they're also often invited to marketing events or seminars, and get direct sales calls, whereas "in the consumer space, it's largely e-commerce and retail point-of-sale," Kurian said.
Therefore, Oracle intends to integrate RightNow and other technologies with B-to-B customers in mind, he added.
For example, a planned integration between Fusion Sales and RightNow's service software could help a services team understand that a particular customer is negotiating a large deal with sales, and therefore prioritize their support efforts accordingly, Kurian said.
This type of integration is also important given the fact that B-to-B customers will often first call the salesperson who sold them something in order to complain about a problem, not necessarily support, he added.
The RightNow deal was also about Oracle making a major investment in cloud-based software in general, along with the next-generation CRM strategy Kurian outlined.
"Oracle's trying to show where the cloud makes sense in their product portfolio," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "However, clients will determine how they want to consume solutions in the cloud, not the other way around."
Four patterns are emerging in the CRM market regarding cloud computing, Wang added. "Do nothing and sit on the status quo; try to move everything to a new release on your old vendor because you have inertia; consolidate on your existing vendor and then augment with SaaS; [and] do the upgrade on a new vendor, filling in the gaps with SaaS."
Oracle customers in the midmarket and large enterprise categories are looking at the third and fourth options now, Wang said.



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P&G To Lay Off 1600 After Discovering Its Free To Advertise On Facebook

Reality appears to have finally arrived at Procter & Gamble, the world's largest marketer, whose $10 billion annual ad budget has hurt the company's margins.

P&G said it would lay off 1,600 staffers, including marketers, as part of a cost-cutting exercise. More interestingly, CEO Robert McDonald finally seems to have woken up to the fact that he cannot keep increasing P&G's ad budget forever, regardless of what happens to its sales.

He told Wall Street analysts that he would have to "moderate" his ad budget because Facebook and Google can be "more efficient" than the traditional media that usually eats the lion's share of P&G's ad budget.

This is coming from the man who increased P&G's adspend by a staggering 24 percent over the two years through October 2011, even though sales rose only 6 percent in the same period.

Note that P&G's revenues were up 4 percent to $22 billion in the quarter but the company's costs for sales, general and administrative work were flat.

P&G's staggering ad budget has become a bit of an issue among analysts. On the call, McDonald and his crew were asked about ad costs three different times. McDonald eventually said:

As we've said historically, the 9% to 11% range [for advertising as a percentage of sales] has been what we have spent. Actually, I believe that over time, we will see the increase in the cost of advertising moderate. There are just so many different media available today and we're quickly moving more and more of our businesses into digital. And in that space, there are lots of different avenues available.
In the digital space, with things like Facebook and Google and others, we find that the return on investment of the advertising, when properly designed, when the big idea is there, can be much more efficient. One example is our Old Spice campaign, where we had 1.8 billion free impressions and there are many other examples I can cite from all over the world. So while there may be pressure on advertising, particularly in the United States, for example, during the year of a presidential election, there are mitigating factors like the plethora of media available.
P&G's Old Spice campaign is a textbook example of what the entire company should be doing. The problem is that the entire company isn't doing it. Check out Mr. Clean's Twitter stream, for instance. Oh, right—he doesn't have one.
McDonald's recent discovery that digital media is free comes after the long-delayed launch of Tide Pods, now scheduled for a month from now but with only a limited supply. It was originally planned for July 2011. The ad budget for that campaign is estimated at $150 million and will come from agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

The problem is that while P&G has struggled to get a single U.S. pod out the factory door, several of its competitors have already launched competing laundry pod products.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/pg-ceo-to-lay-off-1600-after-discovering-its-free-to-advertise-on-facebook-and-google-2012-1#ixzz1l2Mz1w3E



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Monday, 30 January 2012

More Than Fans, Followers and Likes: Measuring Social Media in Local Government


"I have a Facebook page, why isn't it working?"
Emily Landsman, founder of Red Boot Media has been asked this question several times over the past two years as she's worked with various local governments and other public officials.
"Well, that depends on how you want it to work," she typically replies. "What are you using to measure your government's social media plan's success? Number of likes or comments on Facebook? Followers, retweets or mentions on Twitter?"
When Landsman asked the GovLoop community last week how they measure the success of their social media activities, they concurred that engagement is the key factor they strive to measure.
However, most government social media sites do not start out that way.
Neelu Modali, CEO of SM Resources Corporation, has observed that "most government folks are starting with those citizen facing initiatives -- i.e. communicate information from this platform that people want to digest all the time. Emergency closures, infrastructure reporting, traffic, etc."
While this is a good start, it is not enough to sustain activity, leading to complaints from agencies who believe their social media is "not working."
Glen Thomas, supervisor of communications and public relations for Memphis Light, Gas and Water, gave an excellent example of this phenomenon. "A negative event, such as a large storm, will cause rapid increases in these numbers as people seek ways to get information about restoration. Your followers/likes increase when the public needs something from you -- when they know they can get that via social media, you'll experience more rapid growth." In this case, he says, "it's folly to depend solely on [the number of followers and likes] as a measure of social media effectiveness" because people came to seek information about a certain event -- not to be consistently involved.
But how do you get people to engage, and make Facebook "work?"
Modali explains this is the tough part. "Truth is, organic social engagement will climb over time, and there is a curve that applies. Find a common platform to explore around, and make sure there are multiple touch points for your message."
Having a clear message is essential to successful social media. Public Information Officer Jill Parker described that not incorporating social media into her agency's overall marketing plan was a big mistake.
"We found ourselves 'rambling' as it were on social media," said Parker. "Over the past couple of years we have integrated social media into our overall marketing strategy. We now know what we are looking for and while it may not be as tangible as it is in traditional media, it does not make it any less successful or important for us."
The goals of agencies will inevitably vary based on their size, location, and purpose. However, they all share the same question: How do we measure social media success if we are looking to track quality, as opposed to quantity, of interaction?
At Memphis Light, Gas and Water, Thomas says they "measure the number of interactions, ratio of positive/negative interactions and 'problems solved'." In other words, are people getting what they want from us via social media, and how often are we providing solutions through social media."
For Parker, the bottom line in social media measurement is this: "For us 10,000 followers from all over the world is not nearly as effective as 100 from our community who are willing to 'talk to us.'"





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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Twitter Set To Roll Out Enhanced Brand Pages


In the world of social media, many brands are doubling down on their investments. And when it comes to those investments, much is being focused on a few popular services.
One of those popular services: Twitter.
There is no doubt that Twitter has been a boon to brands looking for ways to engage with consumers online. But up to now, the modes brands can engage with consumers on Twitter has been fairly limited given Twitter's simple structure.
That could be changing, however, as rumors are circulating that Twitter will be rolling out enhanced brand pages as early as February 1.
According to Business Insider, the enhanced pages will allow brands to add additional interactivity to their Twitter accounts. The enhanced pages may even include iFrame support, which would allow "users to play games or shop on a brand's site without actually leaving the Twitter environment."
If the Business Insider's sources are correct, it would appear that Twitter is taking a page from Facebook's playbook. Facebook Pages have been a big hit with brands, although in many cases the ROI isn't immediately apparent.
The big question for Twitter, of course, is whether or not going the route of Facebook would enhance the user experience. While it's easy to see brands getting excited about the ability to extend what can be done on a Twitter page, it's not quite clear that users will be pleased.
Part of Twitter's appeal is its simplicity. If brands clutter up their pages with iFrame-based shopping experiences, games and the like, Twitter could be fundamentally changed. And not necessarily for the better.



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39 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed


Been away from Mashable for a few days? Here’s something that’ll get you caught up in a flash: it’s our weekly roundup ofMashable features.
Look at all the coolness you missed: We have tips for the transition into Facebook Timeline, tricks for improving your productivity via Google Calendar and Safari and links to the most popular memes. We’ve covered social networking in the workplace, using networks for social good and even using plugins to help you get the old Facebook back.
So if you wanted to catch up on the best of our digital media resources, you’ve come to the right place:

Editor’s Picks



Social Media


For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Business & Marketing


For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Tech & Mobile


For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook.
Artcile Courtesy of Mashable.com 



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