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How SAP took its world-class social media strategy to the next level with a Unified-CXM platform

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100,000+ employees
Walldorf, Germany
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Reinvent the way businesses do business.

Not a small task, but that’s exactly what SAP set out to do in 1972. Five entrepreneurs from Germany left IBM to follow their vision for the future of business technology.

They launched with one customer and a shoestring budget. It was their dedication to customer experience that helped them succeed.

The co-founders embedded themselves in their clients’ offices, identified their challenges, and built market-leading software to solve them. Forty-five years and 365,000 customers later, SAP offers everything from operations software to financial tools, providing solutions to 87% of the Forbes 2000 list.

Yet that dedication to putting the customer first is still the lifeblood of the brand.

Recognizing the potential of social — quickly

SAP’s persistent commitment to the customer led to its adoption of social media.

“SAP’s goal is to help businesses run better, which helps make the world run better,” says Jerry Nichols, head of data-driven marketing at SAP. “We do that by creating software that enables businesses to transform themselves around their customers.”

“As a leading technology company and a pioneer for business transformation, we also have a responsibility to transform ourselves to broaden our customer communication strategies to reflect evolving online behavior,” says Gail Moody-Byrd, VP of Web Marketing, referring to the company’s 2009 decision to build out a social media program. The benefits of being on social were immediately clear. And within months, SAP’s social presence had grown from a handful of accounts to a few dozen, then a few hundred.

“There was an appetite from our customers and partners to have more authentic conversations with us. We developed our presence on social to feed that need,” Gail adds. “As the saying goes — ‘if you build it, they will come’ — and come they did. The more we engaged our customers through social, the more teams wanted to establish new accounts to have more relevant, useful conversations about their products and services.”

Too much of a good thing

Since the 2009 launch of branded channels, SAP’s social media program became more effective, and ultimately more popular, growing to over 1,200 accounts.

“As the number of accounts grew, our social media teams around the world lacked a structured way of approaching channel management,” says Gail. “Accounts were created without the framework to run strategically, productively, and in a manner that supported cross-team collaboration.”

Across social, customers were asking questions and competitors were making statements, but SAP wasn’t able to hear the chatter or respond at scale. When they were able to spot a pertinent conversation, teams lacked tools to produce a timely expert response from the right subject matter expert.

“SAP was recognized within our industry for its leading-edge approach to social media,” she says. “But we knew that there was an opportunity to run a tighter ship: to reduce missed opportunities, connect siloed teams, and prevent inconsistent customer experiences.”

The global social team realized it needed a holistic, performance-based approach to manage accounts and the experience they were providing followers. It wasn’t just a matter of growing the number of followers; SAP needed to harness social to drive toward tangible business objectives.

“We wanted our social activities to tie to our overall strategic objectives,” says Jerry. “We recognized that we couldn’t execute our social program in isolation, and we needed to understand the outcome of the strategic initiatives we supported.”

The team knew what it needed to do — it just needed the right platform.

“It was clear we needed a powerful solution for managing our global presence on social media,” says Gail. “In 2012, a committee of social media business users and our marketing tools and technology team determined our priorities and researched the social media management system space, a process led by Brian Rickert, vice president of marketing tools and technology.”

As SAP’s social presence grew, they needed:

  • The ability to hear chatter and respond at scale
  • Tools to produce a timely response from the right subject matter expert
  • A way to harness social to drive toward tangible business objectives


The team ultimately decided that Sprinklr would not only allow them to manage their existing social program more holistically, but also scale efforts over time. SAP also saw potential in Sprinklr’s unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform that allows companies to measure their paid, owned, and earned efforts in a holistic way.

SAP engaged Sprinklr’s Unified-CXM platform to help them:

  • Standardize social listening across the master brand in eight languages, covering acquired brands and nearly two dozen top competitors.
  • Reduce social media accounts from 1,200 to 450 across SAP’s brands based on performance data.
  • Set up 20 display locations at SAPPHIRE NOW 2017 and used Sprinklr listening capabilities to keep track of all relevant chatter.
  • Connect social media managers on one unified platform and use Sprinklr to execute a nimble workflow.

From 1,200 disparate accounts to one social media powerhouse

Over the past two years, SAP has worked with Sprinklr to take its market-leading global social media program to the next level. The improvements began with getting everyone focused on the same goals and using the same unified platform.

“This foundational change allowed the team to scale its social program to better understand customers and prospects, connect social to real-life experiences, and make the brand more recognizable around the world,” says Erin McGee, a social media manager at SAP.

“Once we got our social teams using the platform, we used Sprinklr’s 30,000-foot view to understand the true impact of our efforts,” Jerry explains. “Based on that knowledge, we were able to identify the KPIs most important to us, measure ourselves against them, and streamline our social presence and processes accordingly.”

To help ensure that the team’s more focused, efficient social efforts were supporting business objectives, the global social team used Sprinklr to set annual goals for interaction rates (engagement + clicks/reach). If accounts did not meet these interaction rates annually, they either had to adjust their strategy or close their accounts.

“With Sprinklr, we developed a centralized reporting function that allows me to do a health check across standard KPIs,” adds Erin McGee. “In order to stay active, a social account has to hit its KPIs each year.”

The team ultimately reduced the number of social media accounts from 1,200 to 450 across SAP’s myriad brands, based on performance data showing which teams were and were not meeting their goals. The remaining accounts now run with impressive efficiency, as connected social media managers and accounts use Sprinklr to create a nimble workflow.

“Our many social media managers can submit content to our global channels within Sprinklr,” adds Erin. “We no longer have to send everything through email, which caused content and images to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, we’re collaborating across different business units and markets, and working like one team.”

Hearing and understanding the customer

With publishing running smoothly across a consolidated portfolio, SAP was well positioned to grow its social capabilities in new and strategic ways.

“Managing hundreds of accounts in the same place has allowed us to focus on building the competencies of a best-in-class enterprise. Our core social media team is no longer focused on the mechanics of how the work gets done, but on improving outcomes.” says vice president of social channels, Elizabeth Hill. “We’ve turned our sights to scaling best practices and getting smarter.”

A critical area of progress has been social listening. Sprinklr’s capabilities have armed SAP with a new tool for understanding how prospects and customers feel about the brand, what industry influencers and analysts are saying, as well as the overall competitive landscape. Social listening capabilities are now standardized across SAP’s brands in eight languages and cover nearly two dozen competitors and hundreds of industry influencers. Social teams in different regions and lines of business are now able to learn valuable lessons straight from their customers as well as from the social ecosystems that surround them, and to engage most appropriately.

“It’s a great way to stay relevant in a vast conversation that’s constantly changing. Without listening, it’s impossible to know if we’re making an impact in the discussions that are important to us,” says Anna Millman, social listening manager. “It’s also critical to listen to these social conversations in order to protect the brand from risk and to be alerted to when the brand is applauded. Listening is our first line of offense and defense in a 24/7 world of social and digital conversations.”

Creating consistent brand experiences on social and in real life

For SAP, there is ample opportunity to drive engagement — and derive value — from social activity at the company’s many large events, including SAPPHIRE NOW, the ASUG Annual Conference, and SAP TechEd. At SAPPHIRE NOW 2017, the team set up 20 display locations, including in the keynote theater, the centerpiece of the conference. As speakers shared their expertise and attendees explored the event floor, the social team used Sprinklr listening capabilities to keep track of all relevant chatter. During the 2017 event alone, Dianna DiSanto, who manages social accounts at SAP’s global events, and her team used Sprinklr to capture and make sense of around 100,000 mentions of SAPPHIRE NOW.

“It’s a way for attendees to participate in the event and see what sort of conversations are taking place,” says Dianna. “It was the missing piece of the puzzle for our events. We used to work with a different vendor that offered similar solutions, but didn’t connect the dots. With Sprinklr Display, we can showcase everything in a consistent way so that attendees have a single event experience, both in person and on social.”

Amplifying SAP’s brand on social

With such fierce competition for attention in the social media world, SAP recognized the need to generate more attention with its social program. Enter Social Tribe, an agency that helps brands establish and grow relationships with customers and other key audiences.

“Large brands like SAP are investing a tremendous amount of money, time, and resources in developing content so that they can engage their customers more effectively,” explains Megan Conley, the CEO and founder of Social Tribe. “Amplification plays a huge role in making sure the investment in content leads to the highest possible level of visibility and consumption.”

SAP and Social Tribe joined forces on the Sprinklr platform to increase the social team’s exposure among relevant audiences across different regions and lines of businesses. As Conley puts it, “We use Sprinklr reporting to evaluate how well social is performing. And if it’s not performing very well, we can make adjustments or redirect our resources toward something that will have a better impact.”


The proof is in the numbers

For SAP, a bird’s eye view is key. Its social program, previously spread across an overabundance of accounts, is now a sleek, strategy-minded solution that supports the company’s core business objectives. Through a data-driven approach leveraging Sprinklr, SAP has successfully aligned content to the brand narrative, published content that resonates with their audiences by channel, and created digital savvy marketers.

“These efforts had great results against immediate business objectives and key performance indicators. We met or exceeded global targets for: brand association with ‘digitizes and transforms my business,’ owned media interaction rates, and earned media social media conversation,” says Jerry.

It’s important to note that SAP broke from a key competitor who had three million more earned social mentions, despite one million fewer followers on SAP’s branded channels, through a steady drum beat of conversations and owned-media channels that serves up content that resonates with its audience.

“We’ve also made great strides towards our long-term strategic objectives by: creating the marketing organization of the future with a 4X increase in modern marketers that are leveraging digital media insights to make data-driven decisions, and being a top 10 brand through year-over-year increases in both BrandZ Most Valuable Brands and Interbrand’s Most Valuable Brands”, says Jerry.