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Creating added value by being active on Social Media

In or out?

You might have heard the following statement before “either you are online and in the conversation or you are not in the conversation at all”. There is some truth in the statement but it’s not black nor white either. If you want to be in the conversation you will need to find ways to be online when it matters. That doesn’t mean that you need to be online the whole time. In my opinion you can be in without scarifying too much time which you would normally spend in a different way. After all being active on Social Media should be a positive thing and should not affect the quality of your work in a bad way.

Too much is never good

Don’t get me wrong I do believe being active on social media is a positive thing but too much is never good. Yes I know it is hard not to check your mail or your twitter account when you hear ‘plong’ but as with anything, too much is never good. The only way to unlearn bad habits is by creating new habits. I bet some of the readers of this blog check their car again after parking it and closing it. It’s an instinct to check it again to be sure although you know you closed it. The only way to unlearn it is to never check after closing it but that is not so easy, trust me, I know. After all you might forget to close it sometimes.

As many other community members I have children and mine are still very young. Colin is one years old and Caitlin is two and a half years old. Since I decided I wanted to be a father on a young age (at least nowadays) I also knew that it would have its consequences. One of those consequences is that I cannot be online the whole time since I’m watching my kids (from 5pm till they have to go to sleep). As an effect I decided to seek ways to create value using Social Media without having to spend too much time on it. Family time is also important and is part of a healthy work / life balance.


A big help to be online often enough to get into the conversation is my iPad. I waited for a long time before getting one as I was not convinced about its added value and features. I can only say now that I should have bought one sooner. It is very useful and effective to see what’s going on in a matter of seconds anywhere, anytime.

Due to its ease of use and great interface the iPad is a marvelous device to help me in my quest to be in on SAP and Social Media. It’s really easy to take a picture or capture a video and share it with your online network when attending events. It is also useful for taking notes during presentations and events.

Extracting content

While you can get value out of Social Media in terms of gaining knowledge, connecting and collaborating with great people there is also a lot of clutter, also referred to as “noise” on Social Media. In the end it comes down to extracting the interesting content in order to create value.

For me one of the best ways to track interesting content are RSS feeds. Some months ago I saw a youtube video by Jon Reed explaining how you can use Google Reader and I decided to give it a go. RSS feeds are not death and they can be really useful. Personally I use Google reader as central repository where my RSS feeds come in and I use Pulse on iPad to display and read the feeds I have on Google Reader which is a really nice combination. I can also suggest you to check out the other videos Jon has available on his YouTube channel with more tips on Social Media use for SAP. After watching his videos you should be able to use Google Reader and integrate Twitter searches in the RSS feeds which are really useful.

When I have sufficient time I check my twitter feed channel but on Pulse I will check to see what I missed on the topics that interest me the most while I was not online.

Measuring added value

One of the questions I have seen around Social Media is how do you measure value? You can be online and you can state Social Media is great but how do you measure that you actually do better by using Social Media?

I started using Social Media as a SAP professional in December 2010 which is not too long ago. By doing so I leveraged the information and knowledge I gained from being active on SCN, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to connect, collaborate, share knowledge and help guide my customers. My customers fill in reviews each year of each consultant based on their years of experience, work experience etc and I can state my review score was top notch. 

Does this mean Social Media creates instant value? No it does not. Finding the right information is becoming more and more important. The key is finding the right information, gaining knowledge and doing something with all of that. That is what creates added value in the end. You can say my measurement is customer satisfaction of my work and guidance for now. I will continue to use it as a measurement until I have better tools or find new ways to measure the added value.

Benefits of being active on Social Media

Insight and knowledge

Social Media works to get insight into a brand or a company and gather knowledge.  Gathering knowledge and insight is a benefit for sure. How much you do with it is a choice of course. I prefer sharing knowledge and insight to challenge myself and others. By doing so I learn important lessons, sometimes my point of view is just wrong and it is really refreshing that other persons provide feedback and give their honest opinion on my writings and thoughts.

Connecting and collaborating

Connecting and collaborating with other persons is also a great benefit.

I love to hear or read about other persons’ opinions and thoughts and collaborate with them to create something beyond what is achievable as a single individual. That’s one of the great things about collaborating, the fact that you can achieve something you couldn’t have achieved on your own. Perhaps literally, perhaps because of a given deadline, no matter which reason it has, it is awesome to see the result of collaboration.

Self marketing

Being active on Social Media also provides self marketing. Even if you never state anything about products you make or services you deliver being active on Social Media can contribute to your market value. Of course it can also have the opposite effect which has been very visible for some companies who have had to endure Social Media campaigns against their brand or product.

Sometimes it takes balls to state your opinion or tweet a CEO with a comment. A number of years ago it would not all have been acceptable and there still are persons who don’t get it and prefer to stay far away from Social Media. The new generation is having less problems with this.

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  • I have been a big believer in the value that social media can bring SAP professionals as I have seen it first hand (as well as written 4 blogs on it). I have also used Google Reader (RSS) for many years as it helps having information "pushed" to me as without a strategy it can become overwhelming.

    There is a time commitment on social media but just like anything in life it takes work and effort if you want things to pay off for you.

    Social media also has a neat way of bringing strangers together as even though we have never met for example I read your blogs, follow you on twitter, and we have exchanged some DM's which is a great start of a relationship. Having a great SAP network is extremely important and social media definitely helps in that area.

    • Hi Jarret

      Thanks for your comment.

      I was sceptic in the beginning when I started using twitter but now I really see the added value in it all.

      It's great that there is a social media category now on SCN in which we as community members can share tips and tricks.

      You are absolutely right, Social Media has its strengths and can bring people together. It has done so for both of us and we are both grateful for it 🙂

      Kind regards


  • Funny: Twitter and Google Reader (for me via Gruml, a client for my Mac) are exactly the tools I use most to stay informed and to engage with others. Only thing is: I don't have an Ipad (or any tablet) yet. I use my Android phone for Twitter (favorites coming in handy for later reading), and my laptop to absorb the RSS-feeds and the articles behind them. Since the moment I got my smartphone (feb 2011), I also don't 'waste' that much time on it anymore: it's amazing how many moments are available throughout the day in which you can catch up with the Twitter-stream (and the news).
    I also agree with the usefulness of social media: there are a lot of people I just wouldn't have known without them (among them you and Jarret!), and a lot things I wouldn't have known either. So, nice blog! Keep it coming 😉


    • Hello Fred

      Thanks for your comment.

      Social Media is exactly what brought me to SAP InnoJamNL thanks to your reminder and I even used twitter to get a sandwish if needed 😉

      I have an iPad but I should get an iPhone or something because my mobile phone is limited on features. The iPad was definitely worth it's money for me.

      I'm planning to do some more blogging in the Social Media category soon.

      Kind regards


  • Hi Tom,

    You really covered some great tips for being involved in social media, while keeping that work/life balance.  Being a newcomer to the social media scene, your blog provided me with some important things to think about.  I too have a family ( three children ranging from 9-13 yrs of age ), and your tips on how to remain engaged without being 'overly' engaged hit home.  Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to more insights:)


    • Hello Kristen

      Thanks for your comment. I can definitely recommend given Social Media a chance.

      I didn't like twitter in the beginning but it takes a bit of time to like it, use it properly and get added value out of it.

      I have some more blogs planned (in draft in Word already) for the Social Media category.

      Kind regards


  • Hi Tom, great blog and I agree wholeheartedly about your comment on the use of tablets (not just iPad) for connecting and learning using Social Media.  On my iPad I also consume both Twitter and Google Reader RSS feeds using the Flipboard app.  Not sure if you have tried that one, but it gives you a 'one stop shop' for both Twitter and RSS feeds.
    • Hello John

      Thanks for your comment.

      I'll check out Flipboard, thanks for the tip. I like the official twitter app on iPad although there are minor points that could be tweaked. Hootesuite is also a nice app to get a good overview of twitter and some other social media.

      Kind regards


    • Hello Greg

      Thanks for your comment.

      There are many use cases for mobile devices but Social Media are on top of my list as well.

      Kind regards


  • Tom:

    great blog.

    I wish I loved my iPad like everybody else. Don't get me wrong, I use it to read the news and on vacation, but otherwise, I much prefer typing on a proper keyboard. I wish I had bought the Mac Air. I even have the ZaggMate external keyboard, but the battery already entirely died.

    As many know from my Tweets, I am also not as excited about the iPhone as most seem to be. As somebody who has a long commute and likes to have quick access to contacts and auto-dials, it's been less than fun.

    But, not to rain on the social media party (I am in fact a fan), a balanced blog that brings up good points.

    In case you are interested, here my own blog on "How to Manage Your Time on Social Media":



    • Hello Natascha

      Thanks for your comment.

      I have to agree with you that the iPad is not suitable for doing a lot of writing. I don't create blogs on my iPad or write long texts because I'm much faster with a decent sized keyboard.

      It doesn't replace my laptop or desktop but it has it's own use case I would say and doing Social Media, checking twitter, facebook, using skype etc works on it and the mobility gives me an advantage that I have the possibility to check without having to sit at my desk.

      I haven't yet used an iPhone I have to admit. I had a HTC Diamond with Windows mobile on it and I didn't like it, too much crashing etc. Now I own a Nokia smarthpone which is ok but due the limited budget also has limited features.

      Thanks for the link, I will surely check out your blog as I'm a fan 😉

      Kind regards


  • Tom,

    Nice blog. I also read your other blogs on "blogging" and found them interesting as I had some of the same thoughts and feeling (I remember all my procrastinating before pushing the "submit" button for my first blog!). In my case, I started blogging on SDN because I got so much out of it that I wanted to contribute. Having said that, I am not active on Twitter and the like. Maybe that's my lizard brain at work 😉

    Keep up the good blog!

    Kind regards.

    • Hello François

      Thanks for your comment.

      You should definitely give twitter a go 😉

      Blogging is already a good start as it is really refreshing and I would advice anyone to give it a go.

      Kind regards


  • I sometimes have a hard time with that life/work balance.  Lucky for me my son is 13.  And really doesn't need or want me around sometimes.  🙁

    Social networking is a great tool.  When is it too much?  I'm not really sure.  I sometimes spend too much time doing it.  Then I end up losing sleep.  (Because I don't want to lose family time, and work time isn't an option - usually.)

    But without it - It saves me time.  I get more done at work because I find solutions to problems.  I grow a network of people that I can ask for help.  I create my own LinkedIn account where I can see what my friends are up to professionally.  And last I wouldn't get to meet great people like you!

    So perhaps I spend too much time on social media.  Do I add value?  I'm not sure.  Someone else would have to answer that questions.



    • Hello Michelle

      Thanks for your comment.

      I think it's safe to say a lot of persons struggle to maintain a good work/life balance.

      For me too much is when it's on the edge of becoming an addiction. Just before reaching that point it's time to do something about it.

      Connecting with great people is definitely a great benefit, I'm happy to have been able to connect and collaborate with you.

      I can answer that question for you. You add value for sure, I love your enthousiasm and how your blogs, comments and presence infect others with the same enthousiasm!

      Kind regards