The 2nd annual SAP Insider APJ in Singapore kicks off tomorrow, Tuesday, September 3rd, with 3 full days of programming from SAP experts and customers who are using our solutions to get real business value. It’s not too late to register—there’s still room and we’d love to have you with us. This year’s event is twice as big as last year’s in every way, including social media.Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 7.33.43 AM.png

Last year, we had the first-ever social media lounge at an SAP event, and social will be front and center at this year’s event. This is something that is near and dear to my heart, because I know how much social media and investing in the community has done for me, and for SAP.

To give you one small example, last week I was in Tokyo to meet with a partner who is also buying some software from us. I’ve met with him once before in Singapore, about 6 months ago, and we connected on LinkedIn.

He was surprised to see me in Tokyo, since he associates me with Singapore, so when I walked into this room, it was, hey how are you doing, I haven’t talked to you in 6 months but every morning, I see your LinkedIn updates about what’s going on. I said, I hope it’s not overwhelming and he said no, it’s great!

It’s the same story everywhere I go—social media has helped me close some of the distance in time and miles and stay in touch and top of mind between face-to-face visits, in a scalable and repeatable way.

People now come to me because they see me as an expert and a resource in certain areas, which is humbling because I’m far from being the smartest guy in the room or having the most expertise, but they feel like they know me because I’m talking on social channels. I’m happy to be a resource to point them to the right person, and if you’re a real expert, you need to be on social media and make your voice heard!

We have a particular opportunity to have our voices heard here in APJ because even though there is widespread adoption of social media on a personal level, we haven’t reached the same level of business use as in the U.S. yet. I had a high-level APJ marketing exec tell me just the other day that I am the only person in his entire network that shares regularly on LinkedIn. In APJ, people are still not following that many B2B influencers or channels yet, so there is really an opportunity to stand out.

We can help you do that at the Insider event. The goal with the lounge last year was to provide a place where people could follow along with social media postings from the event, make videos for YouTube, and get hands on help and coaching with building their social media presence. The response was tremendous, and we saw quite a few new faces on social outlets as a result. This year we’re taking it up a notch.

The lounge concept was taken up company wide and now there is a social media lounge at many SAP events. Not to be outdone, we will have two lounges this year. One will be in the common area where you can follow social streams on flat screen monitors just like we did last year, but this year you’ll also see leader board for social contests we’ll be running.

On the show floor, we’ll have another lounge where you can meet with the APJ social media team—Lisa Halim (@lizhalim), Sylvana Chang (@sylvanachang), Jon Hoel (@jon_hoel) and Stephanie Dechamps (@SDechamps) to get practical help and coaching.

No twitter account? They can set you up. Don’t know what to share? They’ll give you ideas. Already on social media, but want to grow your presence? Get tips, tools and best practices. No matter where you are on your journey, the team can help you take the next step.

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We’ll also have some scheduled sessions with some noted influencers to teach people about social. SAP’s own Timo Elliott will talk about social and how it helps you extend your reach and how you can find your voice and be really genuine.  For those of you who don’t know Timo, he blogs prolifically about analytics and BI at http://timoelliott.com/blog/ and even draws BI cartoons! I’ve learned a ton from Timo and you can too.

We also invited Drew Calin of LinkedIn’s Singapore office to come and talk about how to get the most out of LinkedIn and other channels. He’s come to the SAP offices in Singapore at least half a dozen times to coach the team here on using the different channels together and finding your voice.

If that’s not enough to get you over there, you should also know there will be an ice cream trolley serving out popsicles.

We’ve also updated the APJ social media guide. You’ll find the best LinkedIn groups for APJ, a compendium of SAP handles and hashtags and #SAPAPJ people to follow on Twitter.

Social media is all about building a community and helping others. Think of the time you invest in these activities as “paying it forward.”  We all have some expertise or skills that we can share with the community at large – and with time and consistency these seemingly small contributions can have a significant impact.

You can start by following the conference hashtag #SAPInsiderAPJ, and join the ongoing conversation by following the hashtag #SAPAP. Follow me, @bilafer on Twitter along with some of the other people I’ve mentioned. I hope to see you at the show, and don’t forget to connect with me on LinkedIn so we can close the miles and time ‘til we meet again.

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