“What it means to have social in our DNA”

Social Media Week is a biannual, worldwide event exploring social media trends across all major industries. It brings together some of the world’s best known brands and thought leaders to discuss the impact of social media on the cultural, political, and economic fronts.

As part of Social Media Week 2012, SAP hosted a daylong conference February 15 at its Palo Alto campus. Sessions focused on social media in business; chiefly, on successfully incorporating social media in the enterprise and growing social communities with business value.

SAP.info was there, and in this, the first of two articles on the event, we’ll focus on adoption. (Come back tomorrow for a piece on growing social communities.)

In the event keynote, SAP CMO Jonathan Becher addressed a common concern among businesses: Though they have robust media strategies, governance, and investments in tools and training, they don’t feel they’re realizing the full potential of social media. And they’re not sure why.

“We’ve missed the cultural change necessary to standardize social,” Becher offered as answer. “We’ve talked about the strategy, we’ve talked about the rules, and we’ve talked about the tools. But we haven’t talked about what it means to have social in our DNA.”

Becher shares a tactic he’s employed in his marketing organization toward making this shift: Challenging the group to think about what it would mean if half the content on the corporate site was posted by third parties, if every campaign and asset they created was social first and physical second, and if the audience (customers, partners, analysts, the ecosystem) could grade everything they did on its relevance and quality, in real time.

For a marketing organization, that’s pretty ballsy stuff. Which begs the question: Will SAP implement these changes any time soon?

“Probably not,” Jonathan says. “But it’s moving toward that mindset that’s important. If that’s our mindset – that half the content on the corporate web site is content we can’t control;  that it’s social first, not tacked on afterwards;  that everything we do gets real-time feedback from our audience, then social is in our DNA. It’s not something added on top, tacked on because it’s cool and it’s in the press and we think we have to be social. It’s just how we operate.”

Watch Jonathan’s keynote and his “seriously unscripted” panel discussion with Maggie Fox, CEO Social Media Group and Ray Wang, CEO, Constellation Research.

Next up: the social culture. Why do some employees seem to ‘get it’ when it comes to social media, while others struggle?  Panelists Becky Brown, director of marketing at Intel; Maria Poveromo, director of social media at Adobe; and Len Devanna, director of social business strategy at Ant’s Eye View tackled this topic.

According to the panel, adoption of social media can jump ahead of a company’s ability to craft it. So it’s important to realize that people are idiosyncratic, and they make mistakes.

Maria Poveromo relates an incident Adobe. “Our CEO had to call and apologize to a partner because an employee called them (in the social media) an ‘axis of evil.’”

That person, believe or not, wasn’t fired, says Poveromo. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, employees don’t mean any harm, they just don’t know better,” she says.

Instead, Adobe recognized the case as a lesson to bring employees into the social media strategy earlier on – another key aspect, said the panelists, in successfully incorporating social media in the enterprise.

Poveromo was quick to point out that while early education on a company’s social media practices can reduce these types of mishaps, they are bound to happen despite the best laid plans. So it’s best to be prepared, and have a crisis plan.

Moderator Brian Ellefritz of SAP summed it up best:  “Social media stewardship is a lot like being a parent.”

Watch the full panel discussion on The Social Culture.

Come back to SAP.info tomorrow for the second article in this series, in which we hear from the Social Media Week experts on growing social communities.