SCN came out the back of a group of developers and community folks at SAP that wanted somewhere to talk. Read SAP Community Network History for some fascinating history.
Once a developer community, it was extended with the Business Process eXperts (BPX) and is now a wide community of varied folks. Acquisitions like Business Objects, Sybase and SuccessFactors have broadened its horizons, and the re-platform of SCN onto Jive and the opening of SCN to anyone, combined with gamification, have really democratized the platform.
The SCN The SCN Rules of Engagement provide some good guidelines on what is and isn’t acceptable and are a must-read piece of content.
SCN and Products
I’m certain that SCN has caused product and marketing folks to realize that it is a great way to promote a product, get wider reach and bang their drum. I’d like to suggest that people, especially those that work for SAP and SAP Partners, take some time to do this intelligently.
The SCN Welcome page is an awesome way to understand what kind of content people like, and I’m going to call out some SAP peeps for writing good quality content. But first, let’s talk about content marketing.
Put simply, Content Marketing is what sits in the intersection of what you want to say, and what your customer wants to read.
I don’t know if Tom would agree that what he writes is Content Marketing or Developer Enablement (I would argue that they are the same thing) but to me, his pieces like SAP HANA SPS 09: New Developer Features; REST API are what it’s all about. Explaining product features, enabling, engaging and educating customers.
It wasn’t blogged on SCN, but Michael Eacrett‘s What is new in HANA SPS09 is another quintessential piece of content marketing. There is a little promotion going on, but it’s educational, interesting and customers want to read it!
The HANA Cloud Platform folks are the same way. Rui Nogueira and Matthias Steiner in particular have created posts like Lightweight HTML5 apps and Git on SAP HANA Cloud Platform and Getting started with SAP River Rapid Development Environment (RDE) – Part 1 which are educational and which of course promote the product they are paid to manage.
and a great companion slideshare to this post Evangelism and The Future of Digital Marketing. Oh yeah, the cartoon above is his too!
Then you have press releases, which live on the SAP News site, like SAP Cash Management powered by SAP HANA. I’m good with press releases, they serve a purpose – making simple messages available to the market. They’re great to track using the Google News feed.
But SCN isn’t the right place for this information, in my opinion. Instead, SCN should be restricted to Content Marketing. Content should be educational.
The New New SCN
Oliver Kohl has described (in a beautiful piece of Content Marketing about the SCN platform) in The Long Run that SCN will be renewed in 2015. We are hoping that as part of this renewal we will see a return to pre-moderation of content which will mean that those who use SCN for “What you want to say to your audience” but which actually falls into the category of “What your audiences doesn’t care about” will get some education.
But even still, if you’re SAP, or a partner, and you want to promote something – please take a few minutes to consider if you could, instead of copy and pasting a press release, take the time to write some content that your audience would want to read.
If you don’t believe me, look at the SCN Welcome. This front page contains content which has been “liked” by the audience. If you take your time to write content like this, your audience will like it, and you will get the promotion that you need.
Thank you to Marilyn Pratt for pointing out Julie Plummer and her excellent content like SAP NetWeaver Business Client 5.0 Overview. I’ve not tried to call out everyone in the community that does great work, but rather shine a light on a few. And I’ve deliberately not called out those that I don’t think are doing it right, or indeed called out the blog that prompted me to write this post in the first place!