How Social Are Your Partners?

November 6, 2009 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

sandra-finalBy Sandra Glaser Cheek – Director, Client Services

Every time I begin to blog about social media, I pause and think of how my inbox is assaulted on daily basis with invitations to attend/participate in social media events, webinars, etc. Everyone is talking about social media in the channel, but up to this point, we really haven’t seen our clients doing much about it – and especially not “with” their partners.

No doubt, social media is important in today’s marketing mix. But how much it is embraced by Channel Marketing organizations seems to be directly related to how a company embraces social media in general. And, it’s practically unheard of for vendors to include social media as reimbursable activities in their MDF or incentive funding programs.

Most of the vendors I’ve talked to assume their partners aren’t using much social media yet, so they assume that there’s no need to communicate with them this way. While it’s true that half of a vendor’s partners probably haven’t embraced social media, many recent studies show that at least 90% IT decision makers consume information through social blogs, videos, online peer groups/communities. There seems to be a growing disconnect between IT customers who seek information on through social media and partners who are not equipped to create and deliver it.

In an MDF program benchmark project we recently completed, we learned that this year, the pool of available MDF funds has decreased (no surprise), and that the number of partners who receive MDF funds has also decreased – funds are now primarily available to the top tier partners. How can a vendor help and encourage partner participation and collaboration at all levels on a tight budget?

Let’s assume that vendors broaden their MDF programs to include social media as “acceptable” marketing activities that are eligible for reimbursement. The cost of entry is low for social media, and below are some easy ideas that could increase the number of partners participating in the program:

  • Provide a comprehensive “how to” tool box and guide to help partners start, or add to established social media vehicles promoting your brand or products (i.e. video, blogging, Flash, etc.)
  • Create easily digestible content for use on different social media platforms

-Develop daily tweets that can be “re-tweeted” by your partners
-Provide blog content that can be re-published on your partners’ own blogs
– Provide videos that can be posted to the partner’s website, or mentioned in blogs and tweets

The addition of these social media marketing tools isn’t very different from the co-branded collateral, landing pages, etc. that are currently created for partners. Yes, there’s a cost associated with the resources needed to develop these offerings. However, if you are just now dipping your toe in social media marketing for partners, experimenting with these kinds of activities that expand your corporate social media strategy is a cost efficient way to conduct your own social media research – and extend your brand at the same time.

And, while we are on the topic of social media… In Amazon Consulting’s Q4/09 research study “The State of Partner Collaboration and the Impact of Social Media” we are asking vendors and partners the question “How does Social Media Impact Partner Collaboration?”

Partner Collaboration and Social Media – Executive Brief

The State of Partner Collaboration & the Impact of Social Media Webinar

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Entry filed under: Industry Perspective. Tags: , , , , , , .

Q4 2009 Check-in IBM’s Mid-Market Push: Posting Notable Progress with Industry Solutions and Business Partner Engagement

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