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October 2012

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QA: Oracle's Michael Hylton on the Rapid Rise of Social Relationship Management

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, brand management has become increasingly complex. So we asked Oracle's Michael Hylton, director of commerce and social product marketing, for a crash course in the new field of social relationship management (SRM).

Q. Please define SRM and explain how it differs from social CRM.
A. Social CRM is primarily focused on social monitoring and management. But these days, companies need a holistic view of how they use and leverage their customers’, employees’, and partners’ social activities throughout their organization to better engage and connect with them and grow the company brand. This can include social networks, blogs, product reviews, customer support communities, and internal collaboration, to name a few.

To make that happen, Oracle’s SRM solutions extend the power of social media technologies beyond marketing to social-enable your organization and impact all your internally and externally facing business processes: social selling, social commerce, social service and support, social human resources, social recruiting, and social collaboration. Oracle solutions enable organizations to engage employees, prospects, customers, and partners socially. At the same time, organizations can derive insight from these engagements to facilitate delivery of great customer social experiences that strengthen their brand.

Q. Everyone is saying that SRM is increasingly a must-have. Why?
A. More and more power has shifted to the customer—beyond the direct control of the brand. Customers today have so many resources available to them to share their experiences about brands, both positive and negative—it’s astounding and it can be difficult to sift through. In fact, a recent study found that nearly three-quarters of marketers have little understanding of social media conversations happening around their brand. And 33 percent of them had difficulty determining the ROI of their social programs. So organizations need technology tools to help them understand this new social universe and its impact on their business.

Q. What are some common mistakes organizations make when it comes to SRM?
A. Many companies focus on only one or two social media channels; but for maximum impact, strategies need to incorporate a mix of social media touch points. It’s no longer just focusing your ear on one channel. Today, you need to augment your existing customer data with the information you learn from customers through all their social interactions. That way you have greater insight into your customers—and what they are saying—to help you drive better interactions and experiences.

Another mistake many companies make is the heavy focus on building fans or likes on social sites. Social relationship management isn’t just about counting the numbers of followers. More importantly, it’s about identifying and engaging audiences in two-way conversations through social technologies.

Q. You've said organizations need an integrated and holistic approach to SRM. Can you elaborate, please?
A. Social activity expands beyond traditional marketing engagement with customers. In building out a comprehensive social strategy, companies need to look throughout their organization and determine which groups and departments are most impacted by customers’ social activity—and then create a plan to address and utilize each of these customer touch points.

Q. Oracle has been very active in the SRM space, particularly with the recent acquisitions of Vitrue, Collective Intellect, and Involver. What value do these newly acquired solutions bring?
A. Where there used to be guesswork, Oracle allows smart marketers to align social media technologies with their strategic goals using social data. Oracle provides centralized social management across marketing, sales, and service. Finally, Oracle provides software-as-a-service solutions that make it easy and natural to bring social engagement into business processes.

Learn more about Oracle's social relationship management solutions.

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