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’.”