Today I came across a splendid post about corporate communications at last week’s SAP Influencer Summit by Barbara French, of SWAY blog. Barbara is a really smart thinker on new influencer models for business to business communications. The post should be essential reading for anyone that runs events for influencers – whether they be financial or industry analysts, bloggers, customers, software developers or folks with a 100k twitter followers. So I asked Barbara if I could replicate it in full here… she graciously agreed. My recommendation? Read this post and subscribe to SWAY. You might also check out this companion post from SAP’s own Timo Elliott. And this one from @gapingvoid, which is as relevant as it ever was.
Oh yeah: one last point from me. Don’t have anything under NDA unless it needs to be. Identifying your trade secrets before the event will help sharpen up your messages. Blanket NDAs prevent useful feedback.
The SAP Influencer Summit dominated tech media and Twitter backchannel conversations about SAP all week. The event offers a good example of real time influencer relations management. If you’re planning an influencer summit for 2010, consider these 3 points:
1. Open discourse. Several tech providers nixed live blogging and live micro-blogging (Twitter) during their influencer events this year. SAP set an important precedent by keeping all social media channels open and participating in conversations in real time. Live sessions were blogged, reported, tweeted and debated by people in attendance and by virtual attendees around the world. Follow SAP’s example: Limit NDAs to the situations where they make sense, such as the strategy development work leading up to an event like this. When the content doesn’t mandate an NDA, don’t curb use of social media.
2. Employee engagement. Many SAP employees expanded on speaker and audience comments via Twitter. Creating a wider circle of employee commentators makes perfect sense. And you know what? The press, analysts and consultants were likely to contact their “unofficial” employee sources anyway. It’s a much better idea to involve more employees by design, than to pretend that exchanges are limited to the featured spokespeople and handlers in the room.
3. Diverse attendees. SAP invited a diverse group of influencers to participate. Among tech industry influencers, big brand analysts and media dialogued side by side with solo opinion leaders and every size in between as well as customers and bloggers. Gathering diverse opinion leaders together to share the same information at the same time at a flagship event is smart on several counts. One, it’s efficient. Two, it sets up diverse, multiple touch points with marketplaces. It also helps build enough momentum to flow directly to offline conversations. In other words, no single point of failure and lot of juice.
For more on the SAP Influencer Summit, check out:
- Timo Elliott, an evangelist for SAP. He offers light commentary on what was going on behind the scenes here. He also links to a PDF document of Twitter feed from #sapsummit.
- Jonathan Becher, SVP marketing at SAP and official SAP blogger for the event, posted here.
- R Ray Wang, an analyst with Altimeter Group, offers one analyst’s summary of the event themes and SAP’s performance here.
Update December 14th: Adding 2 more links to analyst reactions. Please feel free to add more attendee links in the comments. – B