Social Media and “Channel Marketing”

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These blogs will provide you with insights and opinions about partner relationship management from a strategic and a best practice perspective. We will also discuss RelayWare’s technologies and software and how they can be applied to help customers with common partner management challenges

At the Channel Focus last week in San Diego I moderated a couple of workshops on the hot topic of “Social Media and the Channel”. We had a wide variety of leading hi-tech vendors involved and to summarize:

1. Most vendors are using social media for channel marketing to some extent.
2. Many used Twitter and Facebook but can’t assess its value beyond followers and friend numbers.
3. Several used YouTube for posting formal and flip-cam videos and by far the most watched were the more amateur variety.
4. LinkedIn works quite well when the vendor or individual within the vendor created a closed group for partners to join. Otherwise LinkedIn was heavily criticized for “group hijacking” by people out to sell their services.
5. Communities / forums / blogs can work well for larger vendors and participation can be measured well initially. Smaller vendors struggle to drive participation.
6. Few had dedicated and / or skilled resources focused on social media.

In summary, everyone felt compelled to utilize social media in some way but no-one we spoke to could point to any ROI and substantive value that had been delivered in return and were questioning it’s long term value as a result. They all wondered if they were “missing something”. In almost every case, social media was being used as another mechanism for marketing to partners rather than as a collaborative medium or as a means to interact with a partner ecosystem.

My views are:

1. Vendors need to communicate with the next generation of the channel in ways that are appropriate and convenient for their audience.
2. Social media will continue to be a growing medium for communication while other mediums wane.
3. Vendors need to recognize their place within an ecosystem and use social media appropriately.
4. Social media is not a marketing tool.
5. Trying to hijack the new media is counter-productive – participation is elective.
6. Don’t expect a tangible associated ROI. Knowing that you are sharing and someone might be listening is probably about as good as it gets.
7. Continue to use traditional media in a blended model.

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