SAP: convincing the CFO that B2B social media can be a benefit

$-largeLast week I had the chance to bump into Sarah Goodall from SAP; I was very pleased to see her at the usefulsocialmedia conference in London one year after being acquainted with her at a marketing conference in London. Sarah is one of our best social media practitioners in the B2B world and I was lucky enough to sneak out of the B2C session and switch rooms to listen to her. Her presentation was about how to convince your CFO about the benefit of social media. Not an easy task, but Sarah knows how to circumvent the issue; here is how:

Sarah Goodall looks after social media for EMEA and she presented on June 26th at the usefulsocialmedia conference in London. “How can social media generate value? I haven’t got all the answers!” Sarah said as an introduction, but she has a few clues which she wanted to share with us.

sarahgoodall

Sarah has worked for small and large companies and knows “how to make things work on a tight budget”. SAP sells software and services to businesses; it is forty years old and it comes from “a traditional marketing background” Sarah said, and moving into social business “is a true cultural shift”. Hence, social media “came as a shock” to SAP according to her and “it helped [them] turnaround the sales cycle” Sarah went on. What it means is that there has been more emphasis on posting content on where customers are getting it rather than push that content over to them. Therefore, the transition is to inbound Marketing “even though we are not there yet” Sarah said, very honestly. “Outbound still represents twice the budget which is spent on inbound marketing” she added.

How to attribute social influence to revenue?

At the very heart of the business, there is the owned SAP community, using Jive internally and an external community with customers. On top of that, there are channels which aren’t owned by SAP such as LinkedIn, Slideshare, Facebook, Twitter etc. The SAP community network is fairly known outside of SAP, and is 3 million big nowadays. “A lot of bloggers are contributing in this community, most of them aren’t part of SAP by the way” Sarah added.

On external platforms, SAP have enough fans to fill in football stadiums several times “but this is still not sufficient for CFOs!” she said. Hard facts are required, more arguments needed. So what will it take to drive the point home? “What the CFO is interested in is the impact on customer value, and the bottom line and it’s tough, I’m not going to lie” Sarah said.

secret sauce

So here are a few of Sarah’s secret recipes for getting CFOs to buy in to social media:

  • Potential cost of R&D saved: if you use the comments and the voting and offset that against the money saved on R&D, this is tremendous. There is also a cost of loyalty and there are savings which can be made.
  • Social commerce: this is a little more tricky because “the SAP sales process doesn’t quite work like that” Sarah said. SAP tried to embed links in LinkedIn and experimented on how Facebook posts can lead to a registration. “It’s not enough to generate revenue” she said “it’s not an exact science but it’s enough to uncover value”. There are also chance engagements, they don’t happen very often, but when a potential customer has been turned into a customer later then it is a great achievement.
  • Social intelligence: “this is a little bit more woolly” Sarah said but you can try and get insights from social media, and it can be shown that click-through-rates can be influenced through social media.
  • Social insight: social media is also useful in order to measure brand health. SAP is monitoring what users are saying about  SAP and their competitors. “There aren’t any numbers but it is useful” Sarah said.
  • Sapphirenow: this is the biggest business conference which is organised by SAP. In Orlando, 15% of twitter handles of delegates were identified, and 25% followed the @sapphirenow Twitter handle. “This is still early stage Sarah said but it is very useful to tie to something related to business and prove it’s useful” Sarah said.
  • Social efficiency: social media saves a lot of money on support and reduces significantly the amount of inbound calls SAP is getting for support. SAP mentors are SAP’s brand advocates and “this is media which can’t be paid for” meaning that it is invaluable. SAP also launched a #suithugger hashtag which brought amazing results.

the right metrics

As a conclusion, Sarah said that “you would have to “communicate the right metrics to the right audience. Don’t show clicks and followers to CEOs! Show how social media is impacting productivity. You can’t really talk of the ‘ROI of Facebook’” Sarah warned.

Pearls of wisdom … does anyone have anything to add to this? I don’t.

SAP on its SAPPHIRE annual event: “SAP wanted to take this live event and make it virtual”

SAP is one of the founding members of the Social Media Business Council. On November 9, SAP was hosting Blogwell, SMBC’s open event dedicated to social media in which each presentation (8 in total) is delivered by a SMBC member. The opening presentation by SAP was dedicated to spicing up events with social media. SAP began working on its community 7 years ago, and it now comprises 2 million members. This community is about engaging with clients and starting conversations.  The SAP presentation was delivered by Brian Ellefritz, Global Social Media Marketing at SAP. Brian is a former Cisco representative and joined SAP to head their global Social media team. He is a seasoned Internet expert.

Very few in the audience had tried live video when Brian asked the question. So this kind of Social Media usage added to live events is still very new to many professionals (note: Orange Business Services is doing this quite regularly in all regions, check the http://orangebusiness.posterous.com live blog for details).

Context

Sapphirenow is SAP’s most important sales event, it’s about a decade old. In 2010 SAP organised two events in Germany and Orlando at the same time, that was quite ambitious. Social media took a big part in that event.

The objective was to treat the audience as peers, not recipients and showcase SAP as a savvy user of social media. They had done something the year before but they wanted to move beyond that in 2010. SAP wanted to “take this live event and make it virtual”.  “SAP had more bandwidth than CNN” during that event Brian added.

The social media Ambassador concept

Influencers, customers, partners were going to be active pushing the news that they were being told. SAP also wanted to talk to those who couldn’t be there. The way it played out was that most of the content was pushed to Twitter in realtime. The stream started in Germany in the morning and was taken over by Orlando in the afternoon. The Sapphirenow twitter feed was central to that event. Giant touch screens were also implemented.

The ambassador programme was started 2 months in advance. 6 topics were selected, and 6 ambassadors per location were recruited. They had to have large followings and had to be comfortable with social media and have a set of skills which fit in the programme. The initial expectation was 2 blog posts a day. Flip cameras were given and SAP explained what their expectations were. “permisssion forms” were signed and social media business cards were handed out to people as a courtesy. An audit was given to an impartial agency in order to “assess whether that was impactful or chaos!”

The outcome was 1.5 million views in Twitter reach (tweetreach.com), 41 blog posts written in 3 days, 152 videos were uploaded and 15,506 video views generated.

Lessons learnt

  • Picking personal or business account was an issue
  • Broad diversity of skills, it was very challenging (some didn’t know what Twitter was)
  • hastags were an issue (should we have one, one per topic etc.)
  • video “live” blogging: the camera team was just overwhelmed with too many cameras being brought to them and it was chaos
  • Once underway, “it’s just like one giant mashup !”
  • over time, we “stopped concentrating on the number of tweets and blog posts and starting enjoying the live experience” Brian added

The “1.5 million reach” Brian added when asked about what numbers really meant “is when management stops asking question” and the value is when you stop talking about the numbers and when people and managers start seeing the value in the energy and dedication put behind the event and the endeavour.