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Social media case study: How to incent the right behaviors

I originally wrote this post on my personal blog last month, but thought it would be appropriate to re-include here given yesterday’s Social Media Week session hosted by SAP.   As many of the sessions focused on how to change the culture within our companies, I am hoping to spur some conversation given the rich social media expertise present in our community.

Does your organization suffer from an exploding number of ghost towns (aka proliferation of social media channels), 178 on average according to this recent study published by Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group?  Do you find that your internal social media conversations start with ‘…how do I set-up a new Twitter handle?’ Do you see internal reports that measure social media success by the number of fans or tweets produced?  If not, don’t read any further, this is not for you as you have apparently tamed the social media beast.

For many of us however, these are some of typical questions we get every single day.  I wrote this post last May where I highlighted my views on the four key ingredients for social media success.  I now want to drill-down on the importance of thinking ‘carrots and not sticks’, i.e., motivating the right behaviors.

Unless your corporate culture is true command-and-control (which in itself raises many questions whether social will ever succeed at your company), you need to be creative and get people excited to start thinking about social media the right way. While the elusive ROI question still looms, this takes time and perseverance.  So, how do you begin to incent the right behaviors in your social media journey?

The case study I will use is one around developing social media programs around events.  At SAP, we have a long history of developing social media programs around our major user (SAPPHIRE NOW) and developer (SAP TechEd) events, and in late 2010 we codified the methodology so the rest of SAP can benefit.  We developed a slimmed-down methodology, a comprehensive playbook, various training programs and cheat sheets only to see limited adoption.  That was until we decided to provide an analytics solution to allow our colleagues to automatically report on their success via an infographic like the one on this page developed by NextPrinciples, one of SAP’s social media software partners.

Adoption of the process has since started to take off (we supported upwards of 30 events last year) as everyone now wants to get access to this infographic.  One of the (intended) consequences of this exercise has been the standardization around the evolving right way to measure success and our increased ability to learn.  In addition, we have also started to change the dialogue from ‘look at how many tweets I produced’ to ‘look at how engaged our non-SAP audience is’, while providing a valuable service to our colleagues who we were previously relying on a plethora of tools to get at best 50% of the analytics we can now deliver.  As a comparison, the collection of the analytics to produce this infographic had taken us an estimated 80 person hours to complete.

We are now leveraging these lessons by applying them to our various social media programs across SAP:

  • ‘Sticks’ only won’t get you too far: Although the importance of executive support is key, you should not attempt to start until you have a few key executives on board), this can only get you so far
  • Provide a true end-to-end service: Although I am not advocating you start with technology, you have to think about an end-to-end service, and technology has to play a role, whether it is integration with your CRM system, tools to facilitate engagement, or analytics.  Adding value to your colleagues is a relatively easy, and often overlooked, way to drive adoption of the right behaviors.
  • Make your technology accessible by humans (aka think user experience first): Most enterprise social media solutions today (analytics or otherwise), require a heavy back-office and we were fortunate enough to find a like-minded partner in NextPrinciples.  In order for social media to fulfill its promise, I truly believe we have to put the technology in the hands of the people that need it and user experience is key to making that happen.

What do you think?  Does this resonate based on your own social media journey?  As always, I look forward to your thoughts.

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  • Hi Ted,

    I have been asked to give a brief overview of SAP Social media analytics to the business and the questions that came on the table were:

    1. How mature is the social media solution? How does it work with SAP CRM and BI?

    2. Implementation cost and time frame

    3. How do SAP social media work? Does it require lot of configuration effort and advance end user skills for maintenance?

    Regards, Vishal