Vendors often assume channel partners aren’t taking advantage of social media. But spend a few minutes on LinkedIn or Twitter and you’ll see most companies, no matter how small, are spending some time on social networks. And so are their – and your – customers. Social networks are opt-in and exist more on trust than any other vehicle you can use to reach new customers. They can be an excellent opportunity to present your company to those customers who already trust your channel partners and prospective customers as well.
Each partner needs to determine if it really makes sense based on their internal practices and whether or not they already work with social media. But there’s no denying that reaching customers online is a powerful trend. If vendor and partner competitors aren’t there already, they’re likely moving in that direction.
For vendors who’ve not yet expanded their social marketing efforts to include channel partners, there are a few ways to go about it, and a few things to consider:
1.) Partners that aren’t marketing online, or aren’t doing it consistently, or aren’t leveraging it as a vehicle to get your brand out might be missing something. Olivier Choron, CEO of purchannelapps, points out that “IT resellers have the end-user contacts, they have the relationships with customers, and they have the capacity to close business. But they lack the marketing know-how, resources and budgets to proactively generate demand.” As a way to empower your channel, you can push best practices to partners about how they can leverage social media benefits.
2.) Leveraging a social network can be a very cost-effective way for partners and vendors to spread the word about the value of their offerings. Vendors can reorganize content they’re already creating – research reports, survey results, white papers – into smaller pieces that are easily shareable online via LinkedIn or Twitter. By sharing these with their channel partners, vendors are providing valuable content that partners can in turn easily share with their customers. Enabling partners to Tweet vendor content or respond to a blog post enables them to enrich their customer’s relationships by being a valuable resource.
“The goal is to combine the best of both worlds – suppliers’ rich marketing resources with partner social network end-user presence,” Choron’s company has created a tool called socialondemand that makes it easy for partners to use content to generate more end-user demand. It simplifies the tasks of sifting through vendor content and posting on social networks.
3.) Sharing content and best practices allows partners to take on more of a thought leadership role. By showing their clients that they’re thinking about important trends and topics, they’re able to step up into the “expert” role by demonstrating experience and know-how regarding what’s moving their industry.