I was involved in a  recent survey of 200 VAR’s and systems integrators -- and the results showed less than stellar usage of Social Media platforms. Under 60% use LinkedIn and approximately 38% are using Twitter. Okay, not horrible…but how many of them are using it correctly?

Let’s just assume that their profiles are up-to-date, they’ve got links to their company, website and they have more that 12 connections/followers. Are they leveraging the tools in the right way? Roughly 50% of those partners are using LinkedIn Groups and 38.5% are using Twitter to communicate with Prospects.  Not as many as I would have hoped.

Vendors I’ve talked to say, “Okay, Partners just aren’t using social media, so we won’t communicate with them there.”

Big mistake. While more than half of your partners haven’t embraced Social Media almost ALL of your Customers have.  A post on the Marketing Pilgram highlights a study showing that 91% of IT Decision Makers consume social media such as blogs, videos, and peer reviews.  There is a huge disconnect between Customers who seek information on social media platforms and Partners who aren’t equipped to create it.

Next Moves

So what can Vendors do?  The model isn’t much different from the  co-branded emails, banners, and landing pages you’ve provided in the past. I’m currently helping clients create an out-of-the-box social media solution and the one piece of advice I would give is, no one solution will work for all partner communities. It’s important to understand what their capabilities are and how you can best help them get their social media strategy off the ground.  How do you do that?  Ask them!  Your biggest challenge as a Vendor is showing them how important this is and how much of an impact it will make.

Here are the high level steps to getting your Partners engaged with social media:
  1. Convince of the value
  2. Survey/Focus Group/Interview to see what they need and what they are capable of
  3. Create easily digestible content showing them how to use different types of social media
  4. Launch and educate, educate, educate!
Would love to hear what Vendors are already doing to help their Partners.  What’s working and what’s not?

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