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Last week, Oliver Bussmann was named #1 Social CIO of the Fortune 250 companies. Many people ask how Oliver became so successful in social media and I often don’t know where to start. Over the next few weeks I will write more blogs on how to create a personal brand and how to get your executive to take an active part in blogging. This blog details the start of Oliver’s social media journey.

It was a sunny August afternoon in Walldorf when I met Oliver Bussmann for the first time. He had just been announced SAP’s new Chief Information Officer (CIO).

I had pitched Oliver to Angela Dunn, the then Editor-in-Chief of our in-house publication SAP World as a different CIO to what we were used to at SAP. I was bluffing totally; I didn’t have a clue what the new CIO was like, but any coverage in SAP World was an opportunity worth grabbing.  I actually said that Global IT had taken off the sandals and put on the Prada. Angela was, and still is, a sucker for shoes so she gave me a two page spread for what became “CIO in the Hot Seat: 3 Questions for Oliver Bussmann”.

I was as nervous as hell. I had never written for SAP World or any other publication before. Oliver entered the room on time and was very talkative and open. We spoke for two hours on a wide spectrum of topics including family, mindset, humor, cars. You name it, we spoke about it.

During the interview Oliver spoke about how important the first 100 days were to him. He wanted to lay out the future vision of Global IT. He said, “It is paramount that we have an excellent understanding of what is on the horizon and how we can prepare ourselves to support the transformation”. He really meant what he said. Thanks to Oliver and his device agnostic strategy, SAP can boast one of the largest deployments of iPads in the world, crazy numbers of BlackBerrys and a rapidly rising amount of Samsung devices.

Within two weeks of joining the company Oliver wanted a blog. He wanted to get into a dialogue with employees, to know what they were really saying and to find out what they did and didn’t like about Global IT. Oliver still favors this type of open dialogue and holds regular coffee corner sessions to find out what is happening in his organization. His global department meetings usually allow for a live chat too. He often interrupts the meeting to answer the most pressing or funniest of questions and then continues.

During one of our regular status meetings a few weeks after the SAP World interview took place, Oliver wanted to talk to me about social media trends and wanted to try Twitter. He liked the idea of making statements in 140 characters or less – he still does. We used the Twitter handle @sapcio as at the time nobody knew the name Oliver Bussmann. At the time, many people didn’t see the value of social media and couldn’t see how this could help business (don’t forget, this was 2009). We took a lot of criticism. People didn’t understand his vision and the role communications and social media played in it compared to the visions of previous CIO’s who were more concerned with in the box thinking. They didn’t realize that a CIO had an external audience, could engage in a community, or could have a message that would interest anybody.

Today he has more than 4,260 followers on Twitter and has an open Facebook page.

Oliver has basically rewritten the job description of the CIO as it is today.

Tip#1 Getting Your Exec to be Social

The job of CIO at SAP keeps you quite busy so instead of writing blogs, Oliver records podcasts with me instead. Executives are very busy people and don’t often have the time or confidence to write a full blog post. But, if you ask them a question you will usually get an answer. Use your mobile device and record what your executive says. Don’t let them talk for longer than two minutes and then share the recording with the company or organization. You can record a number of podcasts in one sitting. Block 30 minutes a month on your Executive’s calendar for blogging.

Coming soon blog #2 – What’s your niche and external blogging?

Follow me on Twitter: @anitariegel

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