According to Gerry Moran of MarketingTHINK, business to business (B2B) decision makers use social media or some form of social networking to base their day to day purchasing decisions. Whether they read community postings or blogs (81%), check a colleague or company background on LinkedIn (74%), or consume information or points of view on Twitter (42%), information is available, pervasive and used. The global conversation is going on around us in social media which I have likened to the "world's largest focus group." As SAP community members, we can choose to be part of the conversation - or not.
And this was the basic premise, around building out thought leadership, personal branding, and increasing community engagement that led to a spirited panel at the recent ASUG Volunteer meeting in Fort Worth, TX. Cortney Bjorlin (@cbjorlin) and Thomas Wailgum (@twailgum) of ASUG News moderated a panel including myself (@william_newman), ASUG board member Sheryanne Meyer (@SherryanneMeyer), SAP Mentor Susan Keohan, and ASUG Community Manager Danny Pancratz (@ASUGDP).
Some key points from the conversation and take-aways for any ASUG member or practitioner:
- Your point of view matters. As part of this big community of SAP practitioners, customers, consultants, influencers and partners each perspective is important. No one person has the "full picture" of everything inside SAP and at all possible business interactions. In order to participate in the community, your point of view on your specialty area needs to be heard.
- Start with a blog. Your point of view needs a home. Unless you have the mechanics to promote your own email marketing or social media campaign on your own or through your company, a blog is a great place to start. You can connect your blog to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ or just about any platform that shares news, photos and information. Susan is a huge blogger right here on SCN, which is a great platform to get started and to build. (Just remember there are Rules of Engagement on SCN, so you don't have full publisher freedom on this platform as if you hosted your own blog on WordPress or Blogspot). Danny also provided a peak at the new blogging capability with ASUG.com.
- Connect to where your audience is. As Gerry Moran points out, many decision makers use Twitter. I generally stay away from connecting with kids on Twitter or Tumblr (SAFTK = Stay Away From The Kids) and limit my professional exposure on Facebook. Most of my point of view is getting pushed out to LinkedIn, Twitter (I also manage several channels including @ASUG_Michigan as their ASUG Chapter Communications Chair, more on that below), Google+ and apps that consume those social streams (like Scoop.it and Paper.li). They drive traffic back to the blog or twitter post which is where I also track my interactions and other social media stats (views, views per users, clicks, opens, etc. which can be useful if you are designing a social campaign - see my Using the "Rule of Ten" article on how to gather email addresses and contact information to convert social interactions into hard sales).
- Manage your channels. Back during the 2008 election, a worker at KitchenAid forgot they were tweeting on behalf of the company and not themselves, resulting in a very high-profile career-limiting misfire.
So while you shouldn't necessarily be loose and casual about your posts and from what channel they come from, you can make sure some of your posts allow a bit of your personality to shine through conversationally (as replies in conversations to others whom you know in real life - IRL - and for personal interests). For example I post informal wine reviews and foodie notes as a personal interest which helps build out my personal community with #hashtags that relate to those interests (outside of #SAP circles such as #wine, #foodie and others). As a side note many ASUG volunteers also appear to have an enthusiasm in food and wine topics but that is another conversation for another day...
- Finally build your personal community brand. This also works for ASUG Chapters and SIGs. We had several good examples, particularly from Mark Richardson (fellow Communication Chair from the ASUG Ontario Chapter, @ASUG_Ontario) where brand building via social media even led to event gamification in the form of the now-famous "Canuck Hunt" that erupts during SAPPHIRE and the ASUG Annual Conference (last year the Ontario chapter had live analytics showing who was ranking - real time - during the event). That just draws more interest and parties who can then enjoy hearing about your content, point of view, information, or other interests.
The panel was great and very informal with a lot of interactions...
And of course we were able to include #Spot in the social conversation. I'm pretty sure #spot was trending that Saturday just out of the Fort Worth meeting.
For more tips on how to get started as a personal brand or as part of high growth SAP partner, consider watching the Social Business webinar series sponsored by the Institute of Management Consultants. Until next time, see you in the blogosphere and twitterverse!
William Newman (Bill)