Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oracle Social Media Sales Strategy – Encouraging Sales team to actively engage on Social Networks

Business to Business marketing is effectively being done by companies using the social media platforms and social networking sites.  Social Networking world is chaotic and often lot of unrelated and unwanted content is flowing around and it is very difficult for the companies to monitor the social networking sites constantly and also need to employ resources who not only monitor but also respond on the various social networking sites. Companies have to respond to the customers instantly as the dissatisfied customers may launch a social media campaign and attack that will severely affect the brand reputation and the sales of the company. Oracle Inc. uses the social media and networking sites for increasing the sales of the company. Oracle Sales strategy integrated the social media as one of the key components and the company built a wide presence on all of the major social media networks and most of the conversations and engagements are related to company’s products and services. Oracle went a step further and encouraged its sales representatives to use Twitter to engage with prospects in meaningful, helpful dialogue during the sales process, which is quite a new initiative for a B2B company. Traditional B2B marketing strategies included monotonous cycle of emails, webinar invites, check-ins, blog content, technology updates and hoping the customers will engage. Oracle employees were trained on how to properly use social media which transformed Oracle into a social media savvy company with about five percent of the company’s 23,000 sales reps using Twitter. Oracle training program included large scale training sessions, as well as small support-style workshops and Jill Rowley also produced and starred in an internal 10-episode webinar series that focuses on social selling. 

Oracle Social Selling evangelist Jill Rowley argues that Sales professionals need to understand that buying process and buyers in today’s world are very different from earlier as they are digitally-driven, mobile, socially-connected, empowered with unlimited access to real-time information about business problems, products, companies, competitors — about all sorts of things. Social networks are where the modern sales professional can do research, networking, relationship-building, and can use these channels to earn trust.  And earn trust by sharing content that is useful, that is education and training, insightful, and informative and of value to the buyer, regardless if the buyer buys the salesperson’s product or not. Along with Oracle content mostly related to company’s products and services Oracle also encourages its employees to use a 4-1-1 Rule: sharing four pieces of relevant third-party content for every one piece of Oracle-branded content, plus an offering of lighthearted fare like a cat video or motivational quote. Lot of information is available on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Slide share, Facebook, Twitter, etc. which sales professionals can use for their advantage. Oracle is looking at social media and networking sites as one of the critical component of its sales strategy along with traditional sales and marketing strategies and since social media is also having a significant effect on the way businesses run their operations also means that company has also look at the social selling a disruptive go to market strategy and look to benefit from it and make a competitive advantage. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

AT&T Social Media Strategy: AT&T Social Circle employees as Social Advocates

AT&T social media strategy included utilizing the company’s employees who are already active on social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter and encourage them to share their opinions on the social media platforms and create awareness about the company’s products and services and also promote the marketing and other promotional campaigns. It all started in 2009 with a small group of employees and currently the group grew into strong 1500 employees who actively share updates and posts on Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. For eligibility into this program employees should be active on the above mentioned social networks for more than 90 days and they have to go through a training program to avoid any potential issues and problems. The company initially identified some 500 employees who were active in social networks and started a pilot project with them.

In a presentation at SocialMedia.org‘s BlogWell conference in Dallas, AT&T’s Senior Manager of Emerging Communications, Lee Diaz highlighted Nielsen survey facts that 92 % of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family more than any form of advertising and 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a product when they hear about it from someone they trust, which also encouraged AT&T to encourage their employees as social advocates. Employees are an excellent resource of knowledge and information about company’s products and services, actively participate on various social networking sites and with training, necessary tools and platforms and encouragement from company allowed employees to actively engage with consumers on social networking sites. AT&T also monitors and measures the activity and engagement of the employees so as to analyze the effectiveness of their content.

Lee Diaz also highlighted AT&T added a hub to centralize the content and the employee advocates. It allowed their advocates to explore all of the content in total and decide, for themselves, when and how they would share. The centralized hub allows AT&T to share content immediately, make announcements, etc. It was important that the employees can access the hub from any device. They used SocialChorus for the hub, which includes the embedded hashtag. One of the main components of AT&T’s social advocate program was a simple hashtag, #ATTemployee. This let their employees share content from AT&T while being transparent and staying legal. It is also important for AT&T employee advocates to engage with one another, too so as to further improve the content efficacy and AT&T has an internal platform called tSpace based on IBM Connections platform, which is available only to employee advocates. The program has seen some good results as there have been more than 20,000 influencer activities, more than 410,000 audience engagements, and estimated media value of more than US$ 1 million. AT&T is now encouraging all its 250,000 employees to participate in this program voluntarily and company is actively sharing the content that they want the employees to promote in all the internal platforms and it is up to the employees whether to share or reshare the AT&T news, information, announcements, etc. on their preferred social networking site. AT&T realizes the fact that employee engagement will have significant influence on the reputation & brand image of the company.

General Electric Social Media Strategy – Innovative Technology oriented Content

GE social media strategy can be called a digital content factory which is a convergence of different social media platforms that allows company and customers publish and share their own content. The company deals with significantly high quality content that discusses the innovations in technology, emerging technologies, explanation and description about existing technologies. Along with Facebook, Twitter—there are other social networks like Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube on which the company actively allows sharing and publishing of customer generated content of different types along with creating daily, original content on our own owned channels like GE Reports and Txchnologist (which then gets distributed socially and on third party blogs and news sites). According to Beth Comstock, GE CMO, since business itself is social and customer engagements are critical for the business survival, GE utilizes social media tools and platforms allow us to connect directly with our customers, from product ratings to reviews to customer communities where real time collaborating and innovating is happening. Linda Boff, executive director of global brand marketing, GE said, “Real-time marketing is the ability in near real time to produce a response through content, experiences or service to a live event or customer event that delights your audience or customer into engaging with your brand around a shared moment.”
GE strategically utilizes the social platforms to tell stories about the way the company impacts the lives of people and tells the stories about the successes and the challenges the company is facing and using content that is creative and highly impacting visually has allowed the company build a strong relationship with their customers. On social media platforms GE focuses more on on technology and innovation and not on selling its products and services. GE has many Facebook pages including GE Appliances, Lighting, Aviation, etc. and on these pages most of the content is related to questions, images, videos and links relating to a wide range of topics, including jet engines, medical science, outer space and data science. There are also more interesting initiatives, such as ‘Stump the scientist’ which asks Facebook fans to pose questions to one of GE’s chief scientists
With a global presence in more than 150 countries and over 300,000 employees worldwide, General Electric (GE) is a conglomerate that operates in everything from finance through to aviation, appliances and healthcare. Most of the GE businesses are highly regulated businesses like healthcare, energy and financial services the company always have to be very cautious about the content and for overcoming the issue it has a team of strategist, producer, designer and lawyer to make fast decisions on both the content and the distribution. The company has been successfully using the various social networking sites to engage with customers, partners and investors and significantly improving the brand value of the company. We've done some research on our content marketing," said CMO Beth Comstock, speaking with Adweek at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference. "And we get 30 percent extra value for every dollar spent."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Case Study: Enterprise Social Network @ Pfizer – Pfizer World intranet & My World

Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies in terms of revenues, with employees of around 1, 00,000 and operations across 150 countries in the world had implemented an enterprise social network styled intranet within the company for their employees to communicate and collaborate across the globe. Pfizer World intranet is built on Microsoft SharePoint platform and the company prior to this had more than 400 intranet sites. Bob Libbey, Head of Digital and Social Communications at Pfizer, Inc., likes to think of PfizerWorld – the company’s singular internal channel - as an online town square. “People come to get their news and information about the enterprise - about the various pieces of Pfizer - that’s a big part of what’s made the project a success. Obviously we use email a lot; we distribute a promotional newsletter twice a week to show what’s upcoming in PfizerWorld. We need to be careful not to overload people. We’re always looking for ways to help people sort their information. That to me is the biggest challenge right now - helping people prioritize all the news and information that we’re sending to them,” Libbey explains.

In 2008, the site had 1.4 million article views; in 2009, the number jumped to 3 million article views, along with 10 million site visits on the whole. For 2010, article views topped 5.2 million and visits reached 55 million. In its third year, PfizerWorld generated 5.3 million article views and 61 million page views, up 279 percent and more than 1,000 percent respectively over the predecessor site. And the project yielded $20 million in maintenance, support, and development savings over the four years. The news crawl runs along the bottom of people’s desktops and includes the top stories of the day from PfizerWorld, top news clips of the day disseminated by the Media Relations team and breaking news as needed.  Pfizer also launched a social networking hub called My Worlda personalized intranet page to increase employee engagement, enable information sharing and facilitate collaboration; and a colleague message board called Moving Pfizer Forward to encourage candid discussion about company issues and employee engagement  and introduced as part of our PfizerWorld intranet platform back in 2010. That first year this internal networking hub drew 41,000 unique users who generated 800,000 page views. The second year it rose to approximately 60,000 users driving 1.6 million page views. Pfizer expanded its Social Media Policy to reflect the rise in usage of internal and external social media channels across the company. 

Internally, Pfizer created new employee channels, including the only pharmaceutical-company sponsored blog for Pfizer scientists, Think Science Now, on Pfizer.com; a personalized intranet page for employees; and a colleague message board. Pfizer also made content easier for visitors to share through Facebook, RSS etc. Many of the blog postings from Think Science Now appear on Pfizer’s Facebook page, for instance. Pfizer had been able to implement and integrate social network styled tools and platform internally so that employees can actively use it, collaborate and communicate with colleagues across the globe and work together to achieve the organization goals.