Joining the likes of Adobe, Salesforce.com, and Hootsuite, Oracle is now the tenth company to participate in LinkedIn's Certified Company Page Partners Program. In an announcement at its Marketing Cloud Interact event in San Francisco Wednesday, the company said that its social relationship management platform will now support LinkedIn and allow marketers to publish LinkedIn Company and Showcase pages; target users based on geographic location, company size and industry; and interact with commenters on these pages.
The partnership will also give Oracle customers access to LinkedIn engagement analytics through page-level and post-level reports that include metrics on "likes," comments, or other interactions, as well as inject Dynamic Link Tracking, Smart Publishing, and other proprietary Oracle tools into the LinkedIn platform.
Though often considered primarily an HR tool, LinkedIn is becoming a powerful marketing force, and Oracle's partnership with the social network is a move in the right direction, according to Ray Wang, cofounder and principal analyst at Constellation Research. "This is big news for Oracle because it demonstrates that they're really serious about their social and marketing clouds, and that they understand the need to connect the different data sources that their customers rely on," he says.
LinkedIn has evolved significantly over the past few years, and has become a trusted networking tool for B2B professionals. Much like in the B2C space, power is shifting toward buyers. Potential customers are doing more research on products, turning to their own personal networks for recommendations, but while they may turn to Twitter or Facebook to see how a retail brand stacks up, they're likely to turn to LinkedIn to compare business solutions, Meg Bear, group vice president of Oracle Social Cloud, says. "Smart companies are leveraging these opportunities to create a competitive advantage by making their brands more human through social media. As LinkedIn continues to evolve, what Oracle is adding is the ability for a company to have their social strategy be comprehensive across multiple social platforms," she says.
Along with the Social Cloud announcement, Oracle also unveiled key updates to its marketing cloud, delivering on some of the promises President Mark Hurd made at Oracle's marketing cloud unveiling event in April. Still working to piece together the newly acquired BlueKai, Compendium, Eloqua, and Responsys solutions, Oracle is getting "closer to integration than most of the folks that have been talking about it," Wang says.
Among the major updates, the BlueKai data management platform now enables marketers to create customized look-alike models that learn from a sample set of top customers' data to find new audiences. Additionally, Oracle Responsys APIs now support automated, programmatic SMS, meaning that Oracle's Responsys marketing automation tool can deliver personalized SMS messages (and push notifications) to customers' mobile devices, rather than send a mass message to every customer. As for Eloqua, enhancements to its email message designer will help marketers create and test responsive emails.
Though Oracle has come a long way since first setting out to build its marketing cloud, there's still much work to be done. "Marketing is changing rapidly, and organizations require flexible and scalable solutions that can easily extend and enhance their marketing efforts to deliver the most effective campaigns. And it's really a combination of people, process and the right technology to orchestra comprehensive and fully integrated applications," Natalie Petouhoff, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says. Integration challenges lie ahead, she adds, and "the devil, as always, is in the details."