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How Do You Track the SAP Market in Real Time On Twitter?

Twitter has become a real asset to me in my work tracking SAP market and skills trends. More importantly, it has deepened my relationships with many very smart and interesting people in the SAP community. As a result, I decided to do a couple of YouTube videos on my Twitter experiences and make some recommendations on how to go about following SAP folks on Twitter. I did this partially because I think there are misconceptions about how to use Twitter that you need to throw out in order to use Twitter effectively. I’ll share the videos I did in this post, as well as some additional thoughts I didn’t get to share in the videos about making your Twitter experience worthwhile. Editor’s note: the YouTube videos may not display properly in your browser. Until we fix it, you can see the videos referred to here.

  Why does following SAP conversations on Twitter have value? Because Twitter works very well for those who have professional agendas in focused areas that they can track via keywords. Not only that, but there is an impressive group of SAP professionals on Twitter (as well as analysts whose work touches on SAP), and more are joining everyday. Most of you probably know that I’m an SAP Mentor - there are a number of SAP Mentors active on Twitter as well.

In the first video, I talk about how to find Oliver’s SAP on Twitter Wiki and also how to find SAP Mentors on Twitter. Oliver (@Oliver on Twitter) has done a fine job of creating a wiki directory for Twitter Users by SAP and SCN Affinity that you can also add yourself to if you are involved in the SAP marketplace.

The video tool I am using for screen capture tutorials is called Jing. It’s only $14.95 a year for a "professional" version of Jing that allows MP4 file saving (a preferred YouTube file format). On the downside, Jing has a maximum of five minutes per video. Given how I can go off on rants from time to time, that may be a good thing. I did a second video in the "SAP on Twitter" series that picks up where the first one left off. In the second video, I show some neat ways of tracking SAP "Tweets" in real time using I also give some examples of how you can useful "RSS" the results of these keyword searches:

Now, for the misconceptions that will hold you back on Twitter:

1. Don’t obsess with numbers of followers. Just tonight, someone I follow on Twitter was obsessively pleading with those he follows to follow him back. He even said to someone he wasn’t following, "if you follow me, I’ll follow you." This is an ill-advised way to go about things. The beauty of Twitter is that you follow who you want to follow, and vice versa. And don’t worry about numbers games. Follow the amount of folks you are comfortable following, those that legitimately add something to your day. If not, don’t follow them. Getting worked up over the numbers of people following you is silly also. I don’t have that many followers, but those followers I do have are great ones to have in the SAP world. I do Tweet on topics besides SAP, as you can see from my JonERP Twitter profile, but folks who follow me are generally aware that SAP is my main focus. Whatever your focus is, make it clear, add some original thought and commentary to what you push, and venture outside of that focus enough to put some spunky soul in what you do. Don’t worry on the followers - they will come.

2. Don’t knee-jerk follow everyone who follows you (or expect the same). There are still some "cult of conformity" folks on Twitter who insist it is a violation of community norms if you don’t follow someone who chooses to follow you. I follow who I want to follow and expect the same from those who follow me. People add and drop me all the time. I’m not everyone’s cup o’ tea and that suits me just fine. I Tweet a lot about SAP, but I also include some pretty forceful opinions on other topics, because that’s who I am in this world and oddly enough, even if you’re on Twitter for business reasons, without including some of the personal flavor of you outside of business, you won’t truly be successful on Twitter (and I would define business success on Twitter not by the amount of followers you have but by the depth of relationships you are able to build in your industry). Let your freak flag fly a bit and you’ll find some kindreds on Twitter. You’ll lose a few who are put off by that, and that’s the price we all pay for stepping out of the herd. The herd is overrated at any rate, and on Twitter, the herd is ignored. Yes, critical mass can be reached on certain cultural events on Twitter, but when the smoke clears, who people choose to follow is still as individual as it was before.

3. Twitter is about conversations, not foghorns. A lot of folks are Tweeting for business, but they are really just blasting out a message. Needless to say, when you get a nice blast in your face, you tend to turn down the volume. This leads us into a deeper conversation on how to engage on Twitter once you figure out who/what you are going to track, and that wasn’t really the point of this blog post. But, if there is interest, I can share more of what I’ve learned on Twitter so far and how specifically I think it can be of benefit. One obvious benefit is the impact of (wank phrase warning) "sentiment crowdsourcing." Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett on Twitter) has a nice piece on the benefits of Twittersourcing if you want more on that now. Dennis is largely responsible for unleashing me on the Twitter world and so if you end up in contact with him, you can either thank or blame him then.

You may notice I didn’t recommend any specific SAP folks to follow in this post. One reason for that: I have a lot of folks I really like and don’t want to overlook one of them or list them all. But the other reason is that you should toss my Twitter preferences and define your own. Perhaps more than any other surging social media site, Twitter truly is what you make of it. The only thing I will say is that it will take time for you to hit your stride. Twitter has a wonderful way of unfolding in layers, with the occasional light bulb moment along the way. No worthy adventure reveals its secrets all at once. But, if you really want to know who I value most on Twitter, I would recommend checking out my feed and making note of who I get into conversations with. That will give you some good clues, as I’m not one of those on Twitter who replies to Twitter celebrities in the hope they will see fit to reply back.

4. Twitter is not for everyone. Twitter is not something to give up easily, precisely because there are so many different approaches that may work for you, and they take time to develop. But we should be clear that Twitter is not for everyone. I don’t believe that Twitter rewards a casual investment. No, you don’t have to be on Twitter every day. Part of the beauty of Twitter is that you can jump into the "river of conversation" whenever you have time. But you have to find that Twitter fits into your weekly life to make it work. Hopping on once a month is not going to do much for you. The format doesn’t work for everyone either. For example, if you constantly work under non-disclosure agreements, you might find it awkward to talk business on Twitter. Or you might just be someone who is more private about sharing your life with the public. I don’t have much patience for "everyone should be on ______." Having said that, Twitter is surprisingly powerful for those who are invested in the SAP market and want to stay more connected and knowledgeable. Note that I recently added a third video to the "SAP on Twitter" series that shares more of my opinions on getting the most out of Twitter and why some of the conventional approaches to Twitter are flawed:

I will wrap by pointing out the obvious: whatever I said about SAP in this post (and in these videos) applies to any topic or interest you can keyword search and segment. Oh, and yes, I am building up a YouTube channel with an SAP focus, and I do plan on adding more videos.

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