The SAP Mentors' social media domination at this years SAP User Group UK & Ireland conference

24 November 2010

John Appleby

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

SAP mentors: What, that bunch of weirdos?

If you’ve not had a chance to read my blog about the SAP User Group UK&I and how the SAP Mentors came to be there “SAP mentors: What, that bunch of weirdoes?”, then you might also want to take a peek. But in any case the SAP Mentors got a stand at the conference – mostly thanks to Dennis Howlett (thanks Den) and our prime objective was to make sure that the Mentors put their mark on the event. We tend to think that we bring something different and we wanted to bring a social media vibe.

#suguki10 – More than just Japanese Pickles

On that note I noticed that the User Group had got their own tag - #suguki10 (Suguki is a type of Japanese Pickle which is pretty funny) but they didn’t seem to have a social media strategy. When I got back from TechEd Natascha Thomson had sent me a book. Open Leadership by Charlene Li – and I have since ordered 3 copies for our senior managers in Bluefin Solutions. In it, Charlene describes how to engage with social media and through it maintain transparency, authenticity and leadership. I think Natascha sent it to me because I wasn’t very good with Facebook – had everyone blocked out – and I’ve been working on that. But it has opened my eyes to a more transparent approach to social media and life and is a great read.

Social media impact to #suguki10

And so we started to work on some social media planning via Twitter. We joined in with the #suguki10 hashtag and also had a screen in the Mentor stand with a live twitter feed. Dennis, DJ Adams and I got together before the Keynote and determined to ensure that the mentors dominated the conversation.

Ted Sapountzis' social media team came to the rescue again in the name of Bill Robb who shared a great site for social media analytics without a big price tag with Natascha Thomson (@nathomson) , who sent it on to me. On the back of this we have also done social media analytics and I can reveal what effect the Mentors have had. Here’s some facts for you – you may be surprised:

  • 831 tweets reached 69,757 people containing #suguki10
  • 1,077,287 tweets were read overall containing #suguk10
  • 135 people were involved with #suguki10
  • At least 20 SAP mentors were involved from 4 separate continents

And here are the top 10 contributors – by number of impressions, with the mentors marked in bold. Ray Wang is the only person above Dennis, DJ and I – and he has an immense following. Actually this makes me feel a bit small and I realise how influential the top people are in the SAP community.

  • dahowlett - 310,058
  • rwang0 - 283,613
  • sapinfo - 116,688
  • SAPUserGroup - 79,907
  • sapmentors - 35,793
  • qmacro - 31,624
  • applebyj - 20,039
  • ComputerWeekly - 6,215
  • steverumsby - 15,984
  • TomRaftery - 15,142

And so what?

What did I learn here? That the SAP Mentors have real influence. Not all of us have the kind of influence that Dennis has but that’s really not the point because we all reach our relevant audiences. It is the power of the people and the multiplication effect that the Mentors have, that really matters here. We created together a vibe and our motto was “we’re not selling anything”.

And the User Group interaction?

The SAP Mentors steal Dennis’s motto – “never knowingly underspoken”. SAP and others realise that they get the “real deal” and we don’t mince our words and give the good and the bad in equal doses. Early on, we were having some fun on the Twitter feed and Alan Bowling (SAP UK&I chairman) came over to see us. I thought that he was coming over to throw us out actually, or at least to chide us for teasing the User Group.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Alan was gracious and wanted to learn about how to interact with social media – he crucially wanted to be part of the conversation. He asked for a session with the Mentors to understand how we can help each other and be a better pressure group with SAP together. And he went off and found me some vegetarian food. Actually he got people coming past every 2 minutes forcing it at me.

What’s to come?

For me, we’ve found a winning formula and it was great. But next year I hope we can incorporate some of the following:

  • Mentor speaking slots - The mentors should be speaking, but we didn’t make it happen this time.
  • A big banner saying “SAP Mentors, We’re not selling anything”. Like it Dennis.
  • Expert Networking Sessions - We ran a few of these – SCN sessions, one around Business Function Predictor, and other stuff. But we could do more. Dennis has promised to do one on SAP Business byDesign and the Partner SDK. I think. DJ can do one on just about anything.
  • Integration with the User Group - Working together to bring a common agenda to make the SAP Community a better place.

The key is that I think this signals a change. From “That bunch of weirdoes” to a bunch of weirdoes that are worth engaging with, from the User Group perspective. And if you look to my last blog, then you will realise that the objectives were met, and we are all the richer for it.

And some plaudits, to end with (in alphabetical order)...

  • Aslan, for putting up with my early morning Skype calls
  • @ayooshaa, for sorting out so many things at short notice and putting up with the stress of an additional stand
  • Bill Robb - @billrobbSAP - for sending over the tweetreach site which allowed the social media. And for getting it off the ground in the first place and being himself.
  • @bluefinsolution, for getting Mentor business cards printed. About 3000 of them no less
  • DJ Adams, for his amazing and gracious presence
  • Mark Finnern for helping us hang it all together
  • Martin Gillet, for sorting out the Twitter Wall
  • Mark Yolton, for getting the vision and picking up the tab for our stand graphics
  • Natascha Thomson, for helping with the social media dream
  • Owen Pettiford, CE wizard and transporter of my Television back to SAP’s Clockhouse Place!
  • Phil Kisloff, enterprise geek
  • SAP, for hopefully figuring out how to pay for it. You know who you are

Plus the rest of you...

  • All of the SAP mentors for their support. @jonerp @rhirsch @finnern @abesh @njames @thorstenster @pixelbase @ttrapp @gregchase @m_myers etc. etc. etc.
  • All of the people that visit our stand, I don’t want to mention names but you know who you are. The people that caused us to have long sessions around Solution Manager, Business Function Predictor, Enhancement Packs and NetWeaver. A million topics. The great argument between BusinessOne and byDesign. You made our conference.
  • Whoever I forgot. Sorry.

Thanks to all of you. Onto next year!

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About the author

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

I've always been passionate about new technology. I cut my teeth helping global financial services and consumer goods companies build data warehouses to manage their business - especially when they wanted to run faster.

These days, I travel weekly across continents, helping clients differentiate themselves using analytics technologies. This then involved building a team to design the solution, make it work and lead it through to successful completion.

I believe that in-memory computing is radically changing the face of business so you can ask me about SAP HANA, or about any other data platform like DB2 BLU, Hadoop or MongoDB for that matter.

I'm passionate that giving back to the community reaps long-term rewards and this has shaped the last few years of my career - being a contributor to knowledge sharing websites as an SAP Mentor; and a sometime advisor to Wall Street investors on emerging technologies and those companies bringing to market new innovations.

When I'm not busy designing in-memory apps, you may find me pounding the pavement to the beat of music in the hilly suburbs of Philadelphia, or traveling the world to meet new people and new cultures.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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