The Road to Vegas
There is a sub-group of SAP Community Network members, the SAP Mentors, who have been provided “special status, as they are considered to be exceptional and high-value members of SCN. The SAP Mentors are highly respected in the industry, by their peers (who nominated them) and by SAP for their expertise and willingness to evangelize and educate around SAP topics that they are passionate about. They are key influencers (and bloggers) in the SAP ecosystem.
This year, some of the SAP Mentors started a social media experiment, using Twitter, SAP Idea Place and their own “klout” to help me get a ticket to TechEd Las Vegas. It was only fitting that social media played the leading role in my journey to TechEd as I only recently left SCN marketing to join the new SAP Social Media Audience Marketing team. It also was a testament to the fact that there is no such thing as “word of mouth” or a “viral anything” without support of the right people aka influencers.
The social media case study that explains how I got to TechEd has been eloquently documented by SAP Mentor John Appleby in his blog #nataschatoteched – A tale of two cities, and in the SAP TV video from TechEd titled: “How Natascha Landed in Las Vegas” (starring Mark Yolton, Jon Reed, John Appleby and myself). Needless to say that I think that SAP Mentors rock!
Social Media Expert Networking Lounge Sessions
SAP TechEd is SAP’s technical user conference that is held once a year in Europe and the USA. Conference days are filled with workshops, information sessions, networking and fun. TechEd is also the event where SAP Community Network (SCN) comes together in person, while for the rest of the year, the over 2 million members meet “virtually” in forums, blogs and on wikis to resolve SAP related business challenges, learn and connect with peers. Social media plays a big role in the lives of many SAP TechEd visitors, and I was glad to have the opportunity to host two Expert Networking Sessions a the Clubhouse to explore how SAP customers, partners and colleagues use social media; and feel about it.
My two Expert Networking Lounge sessions at TechEd were on the topic of “Why you should care about Social Media. A Discussion”. The discussions provided me with great insights on how SAP customers and partners view and use social media; not surprisingly, SCN (which many still refer to as SDN,) ranks as the most useful “tool” on many people’s list.
There is still confusion around the use of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn but it was nice to hear at the end of our discussions that at least a few people in the audience felt motivated to go and experiment with these channels. Those who use Twitter agreed that following the right people enables them to consume trusted content on topics they care about, as well as to connect with people they might otherwise not have access too. Facebook was generally described as a tool for personal use only, while LinkedIn still has the reputation of being too job focused and full of promotions. I think the jury is out on Facebook’s usefulness for B2B but LinkedIn has definitely cleaned up their act and their groups are doing well (see my recent blog on LinkedIn below).
Overall, I got the impression that the technical folks at SAP TechEd are much more comfortable using social media tools than many marketing people I speak with. They obviously have no fear of technology and find the direct and informal style of communication pleasant.
Hence, should technical people play a bigger role in “marketing” to their peer influencers via social media? At a marketing conference that I attended in early October, an engineering manager told me that his team creates YouTube videos for every product launch – told by engineers for engineers. I have no doubt that they reach many influencers and have high credibility.
To finish, let me share a video of Glen Wallace, Chief Technology Officer at CONTAX Inc. who attended one of my Expert Networking Sessions and voiced his support for SCN on camera:
PS: If you’d like to learn more about SAP TechEd 2010, here some interesting write ups: