In a very short time, social media has changed the way people engage with each other and with businesses, especially retail and Internet marketers. As a result, there has been an increase in online marketing campaigns aimed at enticing and informing both large and small groups of people about new products and services.
But managing large online marketing campaigns, both local and global, can become very difficult as many of these campaigns include multiple marketing channels such as email marketing, websites, social media pages, blogs, and online forums. Monitoring social media pages, for example, take time and commitment to constantly review comments and then respond accordingly.
Software platforms that allow businesses to create, manage, and grow online marketing campaigns help reduce some of the confusion, frustration, and anxiety marketers and others may feel. Recently, Oracle (ORCL) announced its acquisition of social marketing platform, Vitrue. In addition to creating and managing social media campaigns on popular sites like Facebook or Google+, this platform also allows users to monitor and make changes to social media pages in one convenient place instead of having to visit each account. This saves both time and money, especially for small or local business owners with limited budgets.
Combined with Oracle's outstanding reputation for data management, Vitrue will no doubt become a favorite resource of many marketers, both seasoned and amateur.
Importance of Social Media
Once considered a fad, social media continues to maintain its popularity. Many marketing reports have stated that more and more people now rely on social media to learn more about their favorite brands, conduct product and service research, and to find out what other customers think. Many people use social media to determine if products and services are worth buying.
Considering the important role social media now plays in consumer decision making, Oracle made a wise decision in buying Vitrue. Oracle investors should see this move as a way to become more involved in the evolution of social media as more and more businesses now engage in this type of marketing. I think investors should look to the future as social media will play a more active role in retail and marketing as the years go by.
Monitoring and Reporting
One of the most frustrating issues when using social media to market goods and services is monitoring how well a campaign is progressing. Other types of marketing like direct mail marketing provided instant results in the form of sales or return postcards expressing interest in learning more about a product or service. Even email marketing allows marketers to monitor open and click-through rates. But monitoring social media campaigns is more difficult because there is no concrete evidence of how much sales increased due to exposure on social media pages.
As the medium is used mostly to inform first, sell later, consumers may read something on a social media page and then wait days, weeks, or longer before making an actual purchase - if at all. In the meantime, consumers may stumble upon another product or service that better suits their needs and buy that one instead. Vitrue is one of many software platforms that provide analytic tools that help marketers monitor click-through rates to websites and ordering pages, determine page views, and track which comments generate the most responses. This data allows marketers to determine buyer habits and marketing methods that are more effective than others.
Even though there are many other software platforms in the market that provide many of the same monitoring and reporting features, most don't have the backing of a large data management company like Oracle. So, in addition to utilizing Oracle's database management software and services, Oracle customers will now be able to use Vitrue to make their social media marketing campaigns more effective.
Other data management companies like CommVault Systems (CVLT), which recently partnered with Microsoft (MSFT) to offer its data management software Simpana to businesses using cloud-based storage service Windows Azure, could eventually branch into providing software platforms for better social marketing campaign management.
EMC (EMC) continues to expand its portfolio to include consulting, IT management, cloud computing, and data management services. It is unknown whether the company plans to build its own social media platform or acquire one like Oracle or if it will even enter into the social media platform market. But it seems like data management companies are slowly testing the marketplace to see if potential profits are possible.
And even though there is high demand for software platforms to help people better manage online marketing and social media campaigns, not all companies achieve success in building a reputation in this expanding market. Cisco (CSCO), for example, created Eos in 2007, but shut it down in 2011 because it wasn't earning the revenue the company originally anticipated. Aimed mostly at those in the music industry, this platform provided much of the same functionality as other platforms in terms of data and online marketing management.
Luckily, for investors, even if Vitrue fails to take the social media marketing arena by storm, Oracle has enough in its portfolio to weather most economic downturns. Social media marketing will continue to grow - the pace at which remains uncertain for now. Instead of spending millions in developing its own software platform for an emerging market, I think Oracle make the right decision in purchasing a platform that's already in existence.
Buying a product that's already on the market is a great way to determine potential profits. If, for some reason, social media marketing fizzles, Oracle can walk knowing it didn't spend nearly as much for the platform as it would have if developed in-house. Investors should applaud Oracle's leap into this new and exciting marketplace. As the Internet continues to become a centralized location for retail and commerce, social media may emerge as a powerful marketing tool no business can live without.