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Social Media Marketing: What We Learned at SMSSummit

ImageLast week, I had the pleasure of attending GSMI’s Social Media Strategies Summit with my good friend and colleague, Kurt Krejny. Kurt did a wonderful job presenting on social techniques, specifically with regards to Twitter.  It was great to see old friends and meet a bunch of new ones!  More importantly, I walked away with a wealth of new perspectives and knowledge, of which I’ll share some highlights, starting with the keynote presentation from SAP’s Mark Yolton.

Mark had the "wow" factor. During his keynote presentation, I was absolutely floored when hearing:

  • SAP has 6K bloggers in total, some of which are compensated based on content output that is tied to KPIs.  Of those bloggers, none of the content is vetted before going live with very few exceptions!  Further, SAP is aiming to have more than 50% of’s content organically produced via customers, prospects and employees.

My first reaction to this is fear – having that much content going live without checks and balances in place, especially from a large organization, is a bit scary. Why? I think this exposes SAP to risk associated with overexposure and their channel being “tuned out,” let alone the threat of content that misrepresents products and brand. My second reaction is excitement! Freedom of thought and individualism is at the core of social media, which is commonly captured through text and distributed via social connections. The fact that SAP is embracing social media to this extent is a trailblazing initiative that should be congratulated. I believe this is the approach most companies will eventually take.

Other key takeaways:

  • Social business is imperative, and real business value can be achieved. Social media is part of all aspects of SAP’s business, including marketing, product development, thought leadership, lead- generation, sales, customer service and more.
  • ‘Pull’ marketing initiatives like social, search and content marketing produced a 60% lower cost-per-lead (CPL) when compared to traditional ‘push’ tactics ($346 vs. $135).
  • Social success is measured via awareness, engagement and conversion.
  • Crowd-sourcing is used for product ideas … 11,500 ideas submitted and voted on. The top 10% produced 350 ideas actually included in products.
  • “Gamification” is gaining traction as a way to encourage social engagement and internal compensation.
  • The content bucket is never full: “Use content to get found (SEO/SEM), get shared (social) and get leads (conversion).”

I also enjoyed the presentation provided by Kevin Espinosa from Caterpillar. One of the key takeaways came from a conversation with Kevin after his session regarding content creation. Kevin mentioned Cat’s approach with content is deep rather than shallow. The emphasis on depth, Kevin admits, can sacrifice agility and volume, but is well worth the trade-off. This approach seems to differ from SAP's, where a much larger amount of content is not vetted before posting. I don’t want to suggest that either approach is right or wrong: Every organization is different. However, I would to lean towards a slower output of content that is very well thought-out and vetted. This helps ensure the content provides meaningful information to the reader and promotes engagement.

If you're still selling the idea of social media marketing to upper management, here's another takeaway: Caterpillar used social listening techniques to identify a prospect on Facebook. The prospect was asking his friends for recommendations on how to rent 49 dump trucks. The Cat team pounced, and this single social mention turned into a $100K deal … through Facebook!!!  Wow ...

Other great tidbits:

  • Social listening: Kevin's team has 5 primary goals: 1. Who is talking about Cat? 2. What are they talking about? 3. What are the competitors doing? 4. Who are the key influencers? and 5. What’s the tone of conversations? Once key influencers are identified, Cat will fly them to corporate HQ for the red-carpet treatment.
  • Social measurement: There are 5 primary categories: 1. Exposure (views, followers, fans etc.); 2. Influence (share of voice reports via Radian6); 3. Engagement (Clicks, RTs, Shares etc.;) 4. Action/Conversions (Downloads, webinars, lead-gen forms); and 5. $$ (Online sales, phone sales). A key to this statement is that the return justifies the investment into social media.  However, Cat is not ignoring the means to the end. All of the leading indicators like ‘views,’ ‘likes,’ ‘shares,’ ‘retweets’ and so on, are still important! Don’t forget that …

Outlying Favorites:

  • Jeff Gibbard’s opening with “First idea: Always be creating content”
  • Cisco’s LaSandra Brill mentioned that video coupled with blog posts increased click-thrus by 5X.  Loved the statement, “If Cisco can make a router cool and funny, you can make your product cool and funny as well.”
  • Cisco’s Social Listening Center
  • Vast majority of social sign-on for Cisco came from Facebook
  • Daniel Maloney’s summary of main social channels:
    • Twitter – What I’m doing right now.
    • Facebook – Who I am.
    • Pinterest – Who I want to be.
    • Jen Friel on ROI of social: “The ROI is !@#$ in’ awesome!”

During the closing panel discussion, I was surprised to see that very few people raised a hand when asked if they could “translate the efforts of social into what the C-Suite is interested in.” Social engagements can be easily tracked through analytics and other tools like Facebook’s conversion tracking. 

Still not convinced on social? 

Just listen to SAP’s CMO Jonathan Becher:

“We've made a big bet on social at SAP. We infuse social in everything we do, from how we decide what solutions to build, to how we market/sell them, to how we support customers after the sale ... I'd go so far as saying the 'S' in SAP now stands for ‘social’.”

Join The Conversation

  • Feb 20 Posted 4 years ago MarkYolton

    Hi Eugene: 

    I agree with Brad Miller that anyone can now disband their sales force because social media or social selling can now do all that valuable work.  Social can, however, increase the reach of marketing messages to capture net-new prospects (friends of your current customers, for example) who would not otherwise know about your company or its solutions, social can be a source of educating and informing those prospects and current customers (through links to content assets) about your company's offerings thereby progressing them through the sales funnel faster or with less friction, social can improve conversion of those prospects and customers from tire-kickers to contacts and leads, social can give those prospects/customers assurance that "people like them" have used and have seen value from your products and solutions (ratings, recommendations, through blogs, tweets, and the rest), and more. 

    Social can also help sales reps (and others) establish their personal brand including their authority and expertise on a topic, can help keep them connected to key people in their assigned accounts, can allow them to watch/listen/observe their key client interactions, keep them informed of hot topics / issues / opportunities in key accounts and the industries of those accounts (including the competitors of their clients), can give them insight into the interactions and points-of-view of their contacts, and gives the sales rep an easy way to share information with their clients.  

    Those are just a few examples - there's much more.  With that as a starting point, I do believe that social media (and social networks) can and will have increasing value to a sales force.  

    As for news: social media lets both positive and negative news travel faster and broader. It then gives companies an easy, quick way to clarify mis-perceptions or mis-statements, or to share their side of a story. If companies are watching / listening properly, it gives them an early warning of rising problem topics they can respond to more quickly and actively.  It gives them access to opinion influencers, who the companies can focus on in a targeted way to sway opinions by sharing the full story, or to help guide the company to change its policies or practices.  It's not all "happy talk" on social media and social networks; real tough issues get raised and addressed... and in the SAP world specifically we value and encourage open and frank discussions filled with facts and examples - and our customer bloggers are most often the ones who 'set the record straight' when controversial topics are raised. Like any tool, it can be used for good, or used to do harm; the most authentic, engaged companies and individuals will see the best overall results. 

  • Brad Miller's picture
    Feb 19 Posted 4 years ago Brad Miller

    Eugene... I can't speak for any of the show’s presenters, but I was never suggesting sales people are no longer needed. Social is a tool that can be used for sales, and very effectively. Cat is an example of this. I doubt they would have closed the deal without a salesperson reaching out. 

  • Brad Miller's picture
    Feb 19 Posted 4 years ago Brad Miller

    Thanks Mark and great to meet you as well.. I appreciate the additional insights. 

  • Feb 18 Posted 4 years ago wowsceptic

    If sales via Social Media is that easy we do not need sales people.

    Also please distinguish betwen customer base new sales generation and "net new".  Everybody quotes isolated incidents I have yet to see any company breaking sales by and non Social Media origin.

    Who is going to be first?

    Social media is part of marketing mix and mainly a communications of positive news tool.  I doubt that SAP bloggers will tweet too much on recent SAP State of California fiasco.

    Sow I am of Wow (or Fad) News Sceptic. 

  • Feb 18 Posted 4 years ago MarkYolton

    Nicely summarized, Brad! (Also good to meet you at the event) 

    Further information on blogs and bloggers at SAP:

    About 6,000 of our (approximately) 2 million community members (customers, partners, employees, competitors, analysts, influencers on the SAP Community Network, or SCN) blog actively or occasionally.  On average, they produce / publish about 25 blogs per day on a wide range of ~400 topics related to SAP products, solutions, business topics, and more.  

    Any of the ~2 million SCN members can blog. All anyone needs to do is register (low barrier: email and password), accept the terms-of-use (pretty standard stuff), and away they go: they have access rights to post questions or to answer questions in discussion areas, to contribute to the wiki, to comment on other people's blogs, or to publish their own original blogs.  We don't pre-screen or censor beforehand. We do have "monitor for abuse" or "flag for moderation" buttons whereby other community members can flag questionable content to a moderator. This is rarely necessary (less than 1 percent of the time) as the community members police themselves and others -- after all, it's "their" community.  

    About 100 SAP employees have blogging as a component of their goals or KPI's. In other words, actively outreaching to our ecosystem of customers, partners, and prospects via blogging is seen as a key component of their jobs. It reflects the growing value SAP is placing on this activity.  

    We value the rich conversation and insights our customers and partners and employees share in the community, and we a lot to encourage open and collaborative sharing of experiences and opinions.  It's what makes the SAP community so rich and vibrant.  

    Any of your readers can take a look (and can join if they'd like) at 


    Mark Yolton 

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