(Update May 14, 2009: My views have changed a bit since writing this blog. You'll find my updated views in this May 14 2009 blog entry. Check out my initial views below and then read the May 14 entry for new perspectives.)
Don't get me wrong, some vendors have been very involved in social media. Dell has had the Dell Channel Blog since May of 2008 and DellChannel on Twitter has over 500 followers.
While others are well behind. Cisco, a few short years ago was the partner program other vendors were trying to emulate yet they just launched their channel blog this week. Mazel Tov! It's a boy. Cisco does have a CiscoChannels account on Twitter with one, you heard me, one update. That's the equivalent of a "ding-dong-ditch" you get the person's attention, leave them with nothing, and make them annoyed they gave you the satisfaction of opening the door in the first place.
Don't even get me started on Symantec! No LinkedIn groups, their only Facebook groups are run by customers (one is called 'Symantec Sucks'), their blog is up, it hasn't been updated since October of 2008 -- which in Social Media time is like a decade. Better to have nothing, than to say "I'm putting this blog thing up because you wanted it but I think it's stupid so I'm not paying attention to it."
Others haven't yet jumped into the game. EMC Channel has no blog, no Twitter, no LinkedIn, nothing. Like I said, it's better to have nothing than to have something and not maintain it but maybe it's time to get their feet wet.
Microsoft gets a B+. Yes they're a massive ship that takes awhile to turn but at least they are making an effort. They have MSUSPartner on Twitter where they could do more meaningful updates but at least they're listening, they have a great fan page on Facebook with 914 fans, and their blog was updated in the past 2 weeks. Not frequently enough for my taste, but they've lapped Symantec many times over in this respect.
Why is any of this important? If your partners and customers are using social media how can you not? Companies need to at least be monitoring what's being said about them or they could be missing an opportunity to engage partners and customers.
Here's an example of Motrin really upsetting some customers and recovering well. Think it's not for you because you're in B2B...you're wrong. Your customers/partners/end-users have even bigger mouths and bigger wallets to get the word out. If you're not involved in social media or at least monitoring it you're missing a huge opportunity and, dare I say, damaging the brand you've spent years and millions of dollars to build up.
Contributing 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. Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe to his newsletter, RSS feed, Twitter feed and Resource Center.