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Driving Data Integration through the Social Network

I read an interesting report in dmreview last week.  Entitled “Survey Shows Chief Marketing Officers Haven’t ‘Friended’ Social Networking Sites” it analyses a report that suggests my peers are not too interested in social networking.  I’m surprised by this, given the role social networking has in today’s society.  That then had me thinking about our marketing strategy here at Informatica and the role of Facebook, and other online communities, in our activity.

Before talking about social networking, I thought I’d start by stating the obvious – the role of marketing here is to raise the awareness of Informatica within our target audience and to partner with the sales organization in executing programs to find opportunities for our technology and services.

The internet and online medium is massively influential in our plans.  A significant number of leads, and therefore opportunities, are sourced from the internet – whether that be our own web site, search engines, syndicated content or email marketing.  We’ve integrated a cloud service called Eloqua into our web architecture and use it to nurture leads and deliver better qualified leads to our sales colleagues (by the way – a great example of Informatica data integration in action!).

In the current economic downturn, I expect the online world to become even more important given the restraints on travel budgets and so on.

So what about communities?

We have our very own technology network – it’s a community for our users and interested parties.  Participation is strong with over 50,000 active members and the site is a self-running community with content being contributed by users across the world.  If you are interested in data integration or data quality, then feel free to join up. It’s free and you can be a part of what we believe is the largest data integration community in the world.

If you are a user of facebook or LinkedIn then check out the Informatica group on Facebook and several Informatica groups on LinkedIn (USA, Canada, Netherlands, Australia plus a group dedicated to certified professionals).   These are all active, but rely upon members to participate and contribute.

Six months ago I was very keen on building awareness through social sites such as Facebook.  We built a series of viral video’s focusing on the value of data (see our train video and countdown here) and launched a site called www.doyoutrustyourdata.com.  We commissioned an external agency to help us push our viral video’s out on sites like Facebook and YouTube and we achieved over 300,000 views of the videos.  We’re pretty pleased with the results – but what does it actually mean to our brand and our lead generation efforts?

Overall I’d say that this is an important part of our outreach in ensuring people hear about us, see us and learn about us.  Everything is designed to drive people back to our website and increase our traffic.  Our goal is to try and put our message in front of our audience.  Technologists love technology, online communities are a modern exemplification of technology and we’re using this to tell our story.

Is it working?  Now that’s a difficult question. We think it is – you tell me :-)

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3 Responses to Driving Data Integration through the Social Network

  1. Dylan Jones says:

    Okay, a disclaimer, as editor of DataQualityPro.com, the primary route to our readers and members is mostly via social networking, web2.0 and other online media – so my following comments are 100% biased!

    Companies really struggle with the ROI element of social media.

    “So, if we pay this agency $x,xxx,xxx they can’t actually predict how many new sales we’ll get?”

    Discussion closed.

    The big problem is that social media is really based upon building a value chain from your website to the surfer out there in web2.0 land.

    I see a lot of companies spend an awful lot of time and energy driving people back to, quite frankly, dull websites and content.

    We ran a survey recently of what our visitors and members want to read about in the DQ space, wow, it was varied.

    Data governance, tools, tech, interviews, news, gossip, methodologies, freebies, trends, job tips – our readers typify the DQ surfers out there and they want to be entertained with a lot of hybrid content.

    Now, compare that to a roundup of a lot of corporate sites which simply offer product sheets and the occasional whitepaper.

    Dull, dull, dull.

    But I would not include Informatica in that roundup, I think you folks are looking, listening and reacting, you understand community and what it means and have put in place features (such as technet) to nurture that community, hat’s off, it seems to work for you.

    The other big problem with social media promotion is that it is “wave-like”.

    We regularly get StumbleUpon/Delicious type tsunamis hitting our shores and if you don’t have useful and unique content to trap that energy to keep people coming back, that wave will just wash back out to sea.

    So, linking back to the original point, why don’t CMO’s get it?

    Because it never ends, it’s relentless. You simply can’t push a nice video or article one day and then sit back for a few weeks.

    Gone are the 1-2 campaigns a year strategy, no longer viable.

    CMO’s don’t realise that they need to hire a full time community manager, someone to continuously feed their visitors and new found community members with great content. We work intense 50-60 hour weeks to develop our community and content, most companies probably invest a few hours, if that, little wonder why so many companies claim that “web2.0 hasn’t worked for us”.

    Without that continuous supply of fresh content and features, the wave will quickly wash away to more interesting shores.

    Don’t believe me?

    If we don’t publish a fresh article or tutorial content within 5 days, our online performance stats drop, markedly, it really is that brutal.

    The marketing game is now totally different and most companies are still in the 1990′s. The KPI’s are different, the value proposition is different, the copywriting is different – whole new game.

    If an organisation has no online media strategy for 09/10 then you’re actually degrading your brand because it says that you care less about your visitors than your competitors.

    So, is it working for Informatica? Undoubtedly yes because many of your competitors still don’t get it.

  2. It’s not often a comment to a blog post is longer than the blog post! I really like the content on http://www.dataqualitypro.com and I like the Informatica blog network. You guys seem to have found the right bloggers now and are producing regular interesting content. I still think you could take a leaf out of the SAP and Oracle blog networks and produce more blog content just for developers or turn one of your engineering team into a technical blogger.

    I like the idea behind http://www.doyoutrustyourdata.com where people can submit data quality stories but I find the format a bit confusing, you have to read all the instructions on the home page to work out how to turn the pages of the “book”. I submitted a story and was very happy to get a free Wii!

  3. Dylan, Vincent,
    Thankyou for your comments. The key takeaway to me is ongoing continuous delivery of quality content. Hard, but something you seem to be doing very well at http://www.dataqualitypro.com! Congrats to you.

    I think our goals are very similar – to foster a great community of professionals interested in how to take this business further.

    We’re pleased with progress so far, but so much more to do!

    (Vincent – thanks for submitting the story. I could hear the laughter from here! Get the Wii fitness – it’s hilarious!)

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