As the week draws to a close, my Tweetstream erupted with comments around SAP's hijacking of the Oracle Open World hashtags #OOW and #OOW12. It all started with a post by IBM'er and SAP fan boy Vijay Vijayasankar entitled Social Media In Marketing – Is It Too Much To Ask For Peaceful Co-existance? (Disclosure: Vijay is a regular panellist on the JD-OD.com SAP event shows)
Anyone who know Vijay will attest to the fact he is a peaceful kind of guy. He brings calm to otherwise heated situations and doesn't go looking for a fight. So I was a little taken aback when I saw he said in relation to the fact his tweetstream was clogged with SAP generated material bearing the #OOW #OOW12 hashtags:
My first impression was ” Oh boy, SAP is in panic mode” and then ” This is a centrally organized offensive play – I am curious to see how far it will go” . And this is where my dismay at social media set in...
...My own opinion is that SAP handled this in a rather heavy handed way. Looking at it with a quantitative lens, probably SAP got the results they wanted. They took over a good part of the traffic with hash tags #OOW and #OOW12 with HANA content. They clearly did a lot more than just story correction. As much as social pundits might enjoy the idea of marketing and corporate communications using social for more things – I think the net result is just more overhead for people who use these platforms, and event organizers. The need for sophisticated filtering just got more important and troublesome, in my mind.
But from a qualitative viewpoint – it looked rather tasteless to me. Taking over someone else’s event tags – especially using sponsored tweets, while that event is in progress is borderline bullying, and that is not what I expected a company like SAP to do.
Cut short, that's the Vijay equivalent of me yelling 'a$$holes.'
In private, I had urged various SAP managers to keep away from their Oracle obsession. It's a horrible distraction, gets too many people wound up and makes a mockery of the whole hashtag thing. Ultimately it is counter productive and especially so to SAP. I got the usual 'we have to correct factual errors' line. I totally get that and it is perfectly fine to call out inaccuracies on your own platform. But as Vijay says. when you take that to a third party then it changes the dynamics.
Whether that is whining about some perceived misjustice on a site where you know there are eager and sometiumes uninformed ears or whether that is on a social network, the result is never pleasant. Often it just looks tacky.
As Vijay rightly pointed out, SAP is often positioned as a social media leader. It sure as heck doesn't fight shy when that accolade is bestowed upon it. But if this is the best they can do then other organisations will come do a better job.
Unless of course you take the nuclear view: enterprise software is a grubby business and all we're seeing is its manifestation played out in the high school yard.
Vijay's story then became part of an interesting Tweetstream discussion among some of SAP's best and thoughtful friends in the Twittersphere (reading from latest to earlier):
These are all excellent questions and observations.
The most pressing problem though is what happens when we get to TechEd in a week or so. The SAP faithful will likely flood the Tweetstream with oohs and aahs but what if Oracle decides to unleash its attack dogs? Will SAP snivel and call foul?
If they do then it will be very much a case of 'you reap what you sow.'
In the meantime, if B school folk are looking at this then feel free. Consider this as rough class notes from which to draw your own conculsions or build a better case for or against such behaviors.
In the meantime, I hope SAP will see this and the surrounding Tweetstream as tough love. Painful and unpleasant but sometimes necessary.
For myself I am glad it is not just me yelling at the company for a change. Rock on.