Eye on Oracle

Nov 14 2012   7:43PM GMT

Did anyone really ‘like’ Oracle Social?

Lena Weiner Lena Weiner Profile: Lena Weiner

One morning this week, countless people woke up to find that they now “like” Oracle Social on Facebook, with no memory of actively “liking” it. If it were just for a couple hundred likes, maybe it would be understandable, but Oracle Social now has 1,015,209 likes. How did this happen?

Social networks can sometimes feel like middle school all over again. They bring me right back to the days when I still hadn’t figured out that purple leggings absolutely did not match a bright orange sweater and I was rocking a bright red ‘fro that my $11.00-a-cut chain hairstylist had promised would be a “nineteen-twenties inspired bob.”

Apparently, some folks at Oracle were having similar thoughts on the nature of social networking and wanting to fit in. Oracle wants to look cool, especially when it comes to social media. Other tech companies manage to pull it off: Apple is a veritable hipster, everyone wants to be Mark Zuckerberg’s friend on Facebook and just seeing Amazon’s smiley-face box waiting by your door is enough to brighten anyone’s day. But like so many of us former (and current) nerds in the IT world, Oracle just can’t quite shake its corporate, dorky image.

So how does Oracle, the epitome of a corporate, unlovable, unpersonable company, get into social media? Just as I dreamed of buying cooler friends when I was sitting alone in the cafeteria, Oracle bought multiple “cool” start-ups that are good at social media. But they all get rebranded as “Oracle” after being bought, instantly obliterating some of that cool. What’s a social climbing company that just wants to be loved to do?

Start a Facebook page, for starters. Always the first step toward popularity, right? Well, not if no one wants to “like” you or friend you. But Oracle Social doesn’t seem to have that problem. They have 1,015,209 likes. To put this in perspective, Oracle Corporation itself has 217,815 likes; the Amazon Kindle (a very beloved product) has 2,777,411 likes; the iPhone has 1,788,946 likes. This is the equivalent of the total nerd no one liked walking into a new school one day and being asked to sit at the cool table and invited to a party at the class president’s house that weekend.

How did Oracle pull it off? Some have speculated that Oracle paid Facebook for likes or to start a fanbase for them, but I’m pretty sure I figured out what happened here. While perusing Oracle Social’s Facebook page, I noticed that a college friend of mine, a social media maven from the Midwest, “liked” Oracle Social. I gave her a call.

Me: Hey Ericka (not her real name), I noticed you liked Oracle Social. Quick question, did you actually like them like them?

Ericka: Wha… what’s Oracle? Oh yeah. Them. No. No I didn’t.

Me: Yeah, that’s what I thought. Listen, have you liked Involver or Virtue lately?

Ericka: Oh yeah. I totally did like Involver!

I’ll spare you all the next twenty minutes of college-friend gossip about acquaintances having babies and who hasn’t changed their hairstyle since 2002, but to sum things up, it seems Oracle got at least some of those million plus members by getting people to “like” cooler brands, then consolidating it into one, considerably less cool, brand.

Also, I noticed the following on Oracle Social’s timeline:

If you have multiple Facebook Pages with similar content targeting the same audience, it’s a good idea to merge. But take it from us, there a few things you’ll want to remember if you merge to stay out of trouble.

Shortly thereafter, Oracle admitted that this is exactly what they were doing. So, mystery solved. We can all place bets on which Oracle exec has such a wounded inner child that they’re willing to sign off on something this shady. Also still up for discussion is whether or not this is an appropriate use of their subsidiaries’ brands. What do you guys think?

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