Are You Optimizing Social Media for Your Channel?

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Channel Marketer Report reached out to several thought leaders, asking: What are your top three tips for social media in the channel?

The social media space is constantly changing. Although sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have been recognized as valuable outlets for businesses to connect with partners and prospects, many marketers, especially in the channel, are struggling to share the right content, at the right time, with the right people.

In an effort to outline key trends and best practices in social media, Channel Marketer Report reached out to several thought leaders in the B2B and channel marketing space, asking only one question: What are your top three tips for social media in the channel?

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Their feedback is showcased below in alphabetical order by company name: 

Louis Foong

lou_cap

Founder and CEO, The ALEA Group Inc.

@TheALEAGroup

  1. Promote Interest Groups: Use platforms, such as LinkedIn and Google+ Hangouts, to create interest groups within the channel. Encourage channel partners to share their learnings, including successes and failures on these groups. In the initial stages, channel marketers may want to consider incentivizing participation in these interest groups. Once the channel partners get involved with the discussions and exchange ideas, the attraction and promise of ongoing learning will be incentive enough to keep the ball rolling.
  2. Craft A Collaborative Strategy: Work with your channel partners to define a realistic plan and process for how a social media conversation gets: Picked up; continuously nourished; and taken to a point where leads start transitioning into conversions. This has to be a collaborative effort rather than the responsibility of any one party. Your marketing department may take on the role to supervise this initiative but by no means should it be entirely responsible for the implementation and monitoring of social media activity. ‘Social’ marketing by its very nature is a community effort, so one must not forget that.
  3. Get Universal Buy-In On “Value”: Different channel partners will hold varying views about what is valuable and what goals are worth pursuing on social media. As a channel marketer, you need to define what your target audience really cares about and considers valuable. Then you need to get your channel partners to buy into that understanding and definition of value. Only then can all players work towards achieving the same goals and objectives, and deliver absolute value. For instance, if one channel partner considers a high frequency and volume of activity on one social platform valuable, while another focuses on building a huge fan following on another platform, and yet another is carried away with the viral potential of a link or video, you will have all heads running in different directions. The ensuing result may be that your true leads lose interest and drift away to greener pastures where their interest is fed and their thirst for value is quenched.          


Heather K. Margolis

Heather K. Margolis, Channel MavenFounder and President, Channel Maven Consulting
@ChannelMaven

1. Educate your partners: Show partners how to correctly update profiles and post without spamming their audience. Having partners out there alienating their audience or not having a professional presence is worse than having them not post at all. Whether via webinar, video shorts or guides, teach your partners the ins and outs of social media.

2. Engage your partners: Lead by example and show your channel partners how social is done right! Follow your partners, re-tweet and share their content, and post content that helps your audience solve their pain points. Hopefully partners will see the benefits and do the same with your joint end customers.

3. Enable your partners: Provide partners with social content they can push to your joint audiences. Whether a large piece of content like a video or E-book, or daily content like interesting articles and online content, providing partners with the resources they need to engage and attract their audience is priceless!

Jeff Mesnik
Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 10.10.24 AMManaging Partner, ContentMX
@ContentMX

  1. If your channel partners are investing the effort in creating original content, reward them by sharing it on all of your social networks. This simple effort will motivate them, as well as have a positive impact on partners’ natural search rankings, helping to drive traffic to their sites.
  2. Leverage LinkedIn. Create and engage in conversations on LinkedIn that target consumers and involve your channel partners. Create a LinkedIn group that aligns with the business solutions your technology solves. I understand that you may have your own forums on our own sites, but LinkedIn is an accessible forum to trigger conversations. If a new consumer is looking for a conversation to join or to reference, they are more likely go to LinkedIn.
  3. Use e-mail newsletters to invite consumers to engage in social conversations. This will help increase engagement in the conversation and provide you with valuable insights from partners. By leveraging partners’ response to certain questions, you will be able to build trust in the partner.

Courtney Wiley
image001VP of Marketing, Marketing Advocate
@TPMASoftware

  1. Content curation is key: Creating valuable content from scratch is labor-intensive and time-consuming. But by curating the ever-buzzing Web into relevant conversations for your target, you can save your resources by leveraging others people’s work and still provide your target audience with information they need. Use technologies like Trapit or Sparksfly to discover content that is not only popular across the World Wide Web, but also content that is uniquely relevant and valuable to your partners and end-users.
  2. Remove hurdles to social sharing: Enable the channel’s social efforts by making social publishing as easy as possible. By using through-partner marketing automation (TPMA) and other tools, you can provide partners with content and social share links that include pre-scripted posts. With share links, your partners can post content you’ve curated for them on their own social networks with just a couple of clicks.
  3. Help partners bridge the gap from digital to personal: All interaction on social media boils down to human-to-human communication or everyone-to-everyone. Encourage meeting campaigns that originate in social spaces. Unlike cold calling, awareness and familiarity happens in a personal, authentic way via social media. Social media offers a two-way conversation opportunity that publishing outlets do not, so take advantage and interact in an authentic and genuine tone.

The process for connecting on a personal level differs by platform. On Twitter, consider a direct message to get in touch and begin an email or phone conversation. LinkedIn connections offer valuable contact information, often including an email address or phone number for easy follow up. Teach your partners how to get in touch with prospects on a personal level using today’s social media applications.

Brian Tervo
Brian Tervo-HiResNorth American President and CEO, TIE Kinetix
@TIEKinetix

  1. Content is key: If your social media messaging isn’t engaging, your social followers — and your partners’ followers — won’t read it. It’s as simple as that. We all know that for a business to be successful, it can’t simply recycle previously utilized content; consumers want rich, relevant, and personalized content, whether they’re viewing it on a web site or on Twitter. Producing this content is one thing, but ensuring it is distributed accurately and in a timely fashion is equally important. Guaranteeing that your content remains top notch throughout the partner channel is the most important thing channel marketers can do to put their best foot forward with their partners and their partners’ audiences. Employing content distribution technology to disseminate quality content quickly and accurately is a great way to ensure this happens, without causing extra work or headaches for yourself or your partners. Remember, content is king but distribution is queen — even in the social channel.
  2. Time to market: Social conversations need to be timely. If you are distributing messages socially through the channel, there needs to be as little friction as possible to get the most from your content. Channel partners want to capitalize on lead opportunities with fresh information. Channel applications need to be fully automated and work passively with partners to truly maximize the lead generation potential.
  3. Don’t drive leads away from partners: Sending out Twitter messages through a partner community can give you access to a much wider follower base, increasing your audience exponentially! But sharing marketing content that links your partner’s audience away from their web sites could reduce the overall effectiveness of your channel demand generation programs. Look to individualize social messages that redirect to the social user to branded content within the partner site. The conversation you start can be surrounded by the value that your partner community brings and partners will see visible results with more leads looking to continue the discussion.

Ken Romley
Zift SolutionsCEO, Zift Solutions
@Zift

Channel partners are a natural fit for creating a powerful social media presence because they provide a great source of independent advocates for a brand. To get the most from your channel partners, you want to help them establish themselves as thought leaders. The three most important ways you can help are:

  1. Provide your channel with thought leadership content, in their voice, to help deliver immediate value to prospects.
  2. Offer support for automating the delivery of social content, so a partner can deliver a reasonable amount of content without it becoming overwhelming for them.
  3. Ensure partners have the listening tools to enter into these conversations in a timely way. Social media isn’t just about pushing information, it is about engaging with the audience.

Whether you use Zift Solutions to provide these benefits, or you piece together this functionality through a set of other tools, it’s important to extend your social reach with the help of your partner community. If you deliver on these three suggestions, you’ll go a long way towards growing a meaningful social media presence that can provide measurable sales results.

For more channel coverage from Channel Marketer Report, visit www.channelmarketerreport.com.

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