social-media-and-the-channelLast week I wrote a post about vendor activities in social media that praised the vendors who do it well and criticized those that could use a little help. I would be lying if I said I wasn't pushing the envelope to see who monitors their social media and who, again, could use some help. Within 36 hours of posting I received a comment from Cisco, a call from EMC, a question from Dell, and a call from Symantec. The responses prove vendors are plugged into social media. So what are they up to? Quite a lot.

Cisco ran a partner event in Second Life, allowed The VAR Guy to blog during the Cisco annual Partner Summit, and launched Partner Space, a partner community quite awhile ago. Cisco was doing this back in 2007 when most companies thought social media was a new reality show with media professionals trapped on a desert island (Fox don't get any ideas). Cisco also has several channel executives on twitter including @CSCOChannelNews and Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels, Keith Goodwin @keitheg. Excellent use of social media!

Symantec Weighs In

I also had a great discussion with @SymantecNews around their social media initiatives and plans for the channel. Their Symantec Connect platform allows communication among employees, partners and customers. Amazing! Customers are starting discussions, asking questions, and telling stories and partners get to engage them in conversation and provide value...genius! I was most impressed with the shear volume of activity. There are almost 80,000 discussions on the forum with over 200,000 comments, blogs about everything from technical support to channel programs, and RSS feeds on every single page. Admittedly, they have yet to begin their external social media efforts for the channel, but keep your eyes open over the next few months.

EMC Making Moves

It also turns out, while I was writing my post, EMC was planning the launch of their internal social media platform for partners that went live this past Monday. Velocity Partner Xchange has the discussion and sharing capabilities you would expect but at this point, is in its infancy. Lets hope it meets with the same success Symantec has had in its first months with Symantec Connect. Some promotion through social media outlets might help ramp their participation levels, but we'll check back soon to see how they're doing.

Kudos to these vendors for jumping in on the conversation! Now lets not treat it like a fad on it's way out. We need the conversation to continue, not amongst ourselves, but out where it adds value for customers and partners. As Seth Godin would say, people are tired of being "interrupted" by traditional marketing. Interrupted by your e-mails, your phone calls, and even your television ads. We need to find a way to let them get the information they need, when and where they want it. All sound like a lot of work? It is, but it's better than being this guy:

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be a seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." - Western Union internal memo, 1876.


Heather K Margolis Channel MavenContributing blogger Heather K. Margolis, the Channel Maven, has led channel programs for major IT companies. She also has extensive lead generation and marketing experience. The VAR Guy is updated multiple times daily. Follow him via RSS, Facebook and Twitter. And subscribe to his newsletter, webcasts and Resource Center.