[Video] Todd Wilms on SAP's Global Social Media Strategy

August 30, 2012 by

Recently, OMI Founder Aaron Kahlow sat down with Todd Wilms, Senior Director of Social Media at SAP, to get a behind the scenes look at SAP’s global social media program. Check out this video interview below where Todd discusses:

  • How to leverage social media on a global scale
  • Why a passion for social media should permeate your organization
  • How Todd and his team at SAP develop social media best practices
  • How to evangelize brand ambassadors and respond to brand detractors

Catch Todd this September at the Digital Marketing Strategy Summit on Social Media Integration Day (Sept 17, 2012)—he will present “Competitive Social Media Strategies for 2013”. You watch his session from the comfort of your computer. See full agenda.

Not the video type? Read the full transcript below.

Aaron: We're back at Online Marketing TV with Todd Wilms, Todd, welcome to the show.

Todd: Thanks for having me.

Aaron: So, give us a little background on who you are and what you're all about.

Todd: Sure. So I'm part of one of the greater social media teams of SAP. SAP as you know, 53,000 employees, 128 countries around the world. So we have vested interest in social media, and we have a wide group of people that are all engaged in helping SAP come to market through social.

Aaron: Got it. And your mission at SAP is to…?

Todd: We've got a couple different missions, right. I mean we've got all these different products and solutions and so we're trying to reach audiences on different levels.

Aaron: But yours particularly, what is your original occupation?

Todd: Yeah.

Aaron: Yeah.

Todd: So mine is to sit down and work with the 47 different products and solutions around the globe, and help those people become better at social media. So it's a small team, we've only got four or five people, and if we were to try to try and do that and scale it, we'd have a team of about 600.

Aaron: Got it.

Todd: All right, so the way we go about those, we try and create best practices. We get in deep, we work with teams, we help them develop their social skills and then we complement those with playbooks and centers of excellence and then I go out and speak at different conferences and get to hear what other people are doing, bring that back in-house and make it all better for everybody.

Aaron: Cool. So you're kind of the educator, the best practice implementer and the maybe standard bearer for social at SAP.

Todd: Absolutely. Yeah.

Aaron: Love it. Great.

Todd: Standard-bearer? I'm going to use that.

Aaron: Yeah, there you go and carry the torch up for social?

Todd: Ah, absolutely.

Aaron: So, easy to talk about all the great things you're doing at SAP when it comes to Social. Talk to me about the things you just aren't doing so well and you need to get better at, and what your plans are to fix those things.

Todd: Right. Well, it's one of the things I actually talked about in one of the sessions that I gave this morning. It's really about the cultural shift. Social media is not a marketing tactic; it's a cultural phenomenon.

Aaron: Right.

Todd: And if we look at social media, as how companies should be using it, it should be something that permeates the entire our organization and entire infrastructure. Now for a small company, if you're talking about five people you've only got four people to convince. And that in and of it's self can be difficult. You think about fifty-three thousand people in all of these different languages around the globe, and they're all coming out there from a different perspective. Getting all those people to think about Social the way you do, and have that same fire in your belly, that same passion for it, is really challenging. So the thing that we always struggle with is how do we bring people along with us.

Aaron: Right, right.

Todd: It's not just four or five people trying to pull you like a big glacier.

Aaron: Right.

Todd: It's how do we get people along the lines to start getting, thinking about social the same way that we do.

Aaron: Yeah.

Todd: So it's not so much it's a problem, it's just a natural evolution and trying to get better and better and better with it as we go. Cool?

Aaron: Love it. So, let's get into the harder parts of social rank, because we all are still very challenged in measuring everything in marketing, but social still seems to be particularly difficult about how it's pushing the ball forward.

We know we need to do it, we know it's getting the brand out there.

Todd: Yeah, absolutely.

Aaron: We know we're getting more engagement. But what are the metrics you guys are looking at to understand that, yeah, this is working and maybe this isn't, and we need to take a different path.

Todd: Right. The places we've run into problems is when we've tried to do one size fits all, right, where you just come in and say ‘we're going to measure all social by likes, we're going to measure it by comments, et cetera’. What we started to do is we sit back at the very beginning when we're developing our strategies with these teams and we come up with the goals that we want to measure, or we want to measure a set of goals at the very beginning. So one of the things we'll do is, if a team wants to look at just reach, right? We'll set up the goals and metrics that we want to measure at that point, and then we'll evolve those over time. So, we try and, I don't know, do, 'ready, aim, fire,' instead of ‘ready, fire, aim,’ which is what most organizations end up doing.

Aaron: So what are some of the neat things you guys are experimenting with that would be on the verge, maybe ‘ready fire aim’ but you know just kinda pushing the envelope to try to get a sense for what's worth your time.

Todd: Right. So I think one of the things we've tried to do is, you know, everyone approaches social from a very democratic democratized standpoint. Everyone's equal in social's eyes. And what we decided to do is say, we can't invest in the same way in all people across all channels across all parts of the organization territorial social media, huh?

Aaron: Dictatorship in social?

Todd: You know it, baby.

Aaron: Yeah.

Todd: Well I know we like to laugh about it, but it's limited resources. Everyone has a difficult time in trying to make sure that, you know, you're giving the right attention to people that really deserve it. So, we've started to come up with some ways to look at how do we invest in certain people across the infrastructure? How do we make ambassadors, how do we give them the right tools and technologies that they can then go in and become torchbearers for their respective areas.

Aaron: Are you identifying the influencers outside the organization, too, and spending more time courting them, or is that part of the strategy as well?

Todd: Yeah, absolutely. I think SAP has always done a really good job of dealing and interacting with influencers and bringing those people into the fold.

We have huge influencer summits. We work with people that are, you know, very positive, we also work with people who are detractors, and we try and engage and have conversation with them. That's the one really nice thing about Social Media is, even if someone is a detractor, even if someone is saying something that you don't particularly like about your brand, at least you've got the ability through social to hear what they're saying and to react accordingly. Before, they could be saying all sorts of negative things about you and you never had the opportunity to interact with them. There were only a very limited number of people that could do so. Now they're very public about it and you can come in and respond accordingly. You may not like what they have to say, but at least you can interact with them and help change their behavior, even just a little bit.

Aaron: Got it. So if I caught you at the beginning when you were talking about what you do, you have a global reach when it comes to Social Media strategy for SAP.

Todd: Right.

Aaron: And SAP is a very big global company. What are the local nuances you found to be just interesting and representative of how we need to think? Like, what are you doing in, say, Shanghai versus even Hong Kong, right? Let alone Shanghai versus Germany. And how does that all impact kind of the thought process to unify this social strategy under one, kind of set of standards?

Todd: Yeah. Now it's really good. I think one of the things we've run into is, if you try and do a kind of U.S. centric approach. And then say, we'll just take that and roll that strategy, that process, that program out and do it across the globe, you're going to run into those cultural nuances.

Aaron: Yeah.

Todd: All right, so one of the things we learned is, if you go and run a program, even if it is an event or world tour in Turkey, and you put stuff on YouTube, well, YouTube is blocked. It has to be video.

Aaron: Yeah.

Todd: And most people don't realize that, so if you develop a YouTube strategy in that particular area of the world, you're, you're gonna fall short.

Aaron: Kind of like your Twitter strategy in China, right?

Todd: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, right. After that one, and I think that most people know that by now, and they realize that there is a nuance, but they don't, they look at, like, China, and then there's the rest of the world.

Aaron: Right.

Todd: And what we've looked at is that, you know, we may do a lot of tweeting here in the U.S., but it's not as endemic and in the same way as it is in Europe.

Aaron: Yeah.

Todd: We blog about business issues here in the US, but in New York they tend to blog more about personal issues. And those cultural nuances they may be stereotypes, but those cultural nuances really play into how you develop a social program.

Aaron: That's right. But China everybody is fascinated with, right? Because just in the size in the internet population has already surpassed the U.S. that's right.

See, there's a lot of potential, a lot of marketing dollars that can be floated in. What are some of the nuances on social that you've learned? Any of the other things you might be able to share that you know you've learned from in trying to figure out the Chinese market and what the new odds are as it relates obviously to social media?

Todd: Yeah, so the couple of things that we learned is, again it goes back to the same answer before. Don't try and force Western ideas on an Eastern culture, on a culture that you may not understand.

Aaron: Yes.

Todd: So we've gone in, when we've done events, we've done programs, we've done interactions there. We use on the ground resources. We use local teams to help us. We come in with a strategy and idea of what we want to accomplish, but we let those people really help steer, guide us so that we've got those feet on the street to help localize the effort. And then the last thing is, we speak in the local language. So if you come in and say, 'Well, we're going to speak in English, because the world understands English,' you've already missed a vast majority of your populace. So when you come in and you kind of meet with those local cultural norms and local cultural standards and develop those programs, you know, you've got to win almost right off the bat.

Aaron: Got it. So you have more feet on the street locally to help you guide that strategy, as opposed to just guiding it from corporate headquarters?

Todd: Yeah, absolutely.

Aaron: Is that a fair way to look at it?

Todd: Yeah, absolutely.

Aaron: With that, thanks for joining us on the show and hope to see you back soon.

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