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Social Media Lessons from SAPinsider's CRM2013 Event

by Kenneth Murphy

March 13, 2013

By Ken Murphy


By welcome coincidence, I had the chance last week to speak with SAP Outbound Product Manager Terence Chesire about SAP’s new social media product, SAP Social OnDemand – part of SAP Customer OnDemand – at our SAPinsider CRM2013 conference the day after a high-end retailer’s private party celebrating a new Boston location turned into a publicity nightmare.

I was in Las Vegas for the SAPinsider event when I heard about the upscale home furnishing gallery’s blighted bash through – what else – social media. A tweet filled me in on the embarrassing details:  Restoration Hardware was throwing a VIP, invitation-only grand opening party at its new Back Bay location, but the fire department shut it down early because of overcrowding. According to numerous reports, guests were squeezed in like sardines, unable to move let alone freely access the lobster rolls or top-shelf liquor. The band was ordered to stop. After filing out, some guests waited an hour or more for their cars. In short, not the positive press a grand opening bash is designed to attract.

Naturally, Twitter and Facebook blew up. “Not one drink, bite to eat, or moment to enjoy… literally horrified by the poor planning and dangerous amount of people,” t weeted one party-goer with 14,000 followers. “This will go down as one of the all-time worst planned events in Boston party history,” tweeted another.

I read up on this story shortly before I sat down with Cheshire at our SAPinsider booth to talk about SAP Customer OnDemand, which helps a business manage all of its customer processes in the cloud. Naturally, my questions gravitated toward SAP Social OnDemand and SAP Social Media Analytics by NetBase, the components of the solution that enable social media listening, prioritizing, analytics, and also help guide customer engagements.

Without directly referring to the Restoration Hardware debacle, I asked Cheshire how the solution allows a company to respond to a sudden, unexpected flurry of bad publicity.  One thing it does, he said, is prioritize the millions of messages it can decipher across all social media platforms. So far from just listening to social chatter, it analyzes keywords, patterns and overall sentiment and equips decision makers with the information they need to make a real-time response.

So, in theory, Restoration Hardware executives utilizing SAP Social OnDemand and SAP Social Media Analytics by NetBase could have instantly understood the scope of the Twitter/Facebook barrage. Who’s saying what? How influential are they? How intense is the backlash? Is the message taking off? Using the solution’s collaboration tools, key team members could then formulate a targeted response based on an existing back-end trove of social knowledge.

Interestingly, where Restoration Hardware is concerned, there was some speculation during the post-bash hangover that the retailer knew the party was a recipe for disaster because on their way out the door some guests were handed “Sorry for the inconvenience” cards with a coupon for 20% off their next purchas e.

I wonder if the store just used the cards they usually have on hand for when a piece isn’t in stock? Or were they in fact so in tune with Twitter sentiment and in possession of sophisticated social algorithms that they knew 20% was the magic number to make everyone forget all about the crowd?

We’ll post my interview with Cheshire on this site in a few weeks, so be sure to check back for his expert insights on SAP Customer OnDemand. Needless to say, when we had a moment to chat off-camera after the interview, Cheshire was in agreement that Restoration Hardware certainly could have benefited from SAP Social OnDemand.

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