Getting your Channel Partners to Drive Revenue Using Social Media
Getting your Channel Partners to
Drive Revenue Using Social Media
What’s the value of social media?
Social media is everywhere. We could dive into the
statistics of the millions of LinkedIn users and the
hundreds of millions of tweets sent per day, but
the overall message is clear – social media is used
ALL THE TIME. However, understanding the actual
value of social media has been challenging as most
companies measure value based on ROI. While social
media ROI cannot be measured in dollar amounts,
it can be measured by customer lifetime value.
Connecting with your customers socially can influence
their experience and brand perception and have a
huge impact on their future purchasing decisions.
A common misconception is that social media marketing only
holds value in the B2C space. According to Marketo, 56% of
B2B marketers acquired new customers using social media in
2011. Utilizing social media as part of an integrated marketing
strategy has proven successful and is becoming a more and
more prominent practice in the channel and indirect sales.
According to Forbes, “Social media is how the current and
next generation B2B customer is choosing to learn about new
solutions and stay current on brands they are loyal to.” What
we’re starting to see in the channel are vendors – big and small –
moving beyond standalone pilot projects and embedding social
media into their channel to engage with partners and help them
grow their businesses.
Twitter tip: Create a short Twitter handle so followers can
retweet you without having to use most of their limited
While the benefits of social media cannot easily be measured in
nickels and dimes, the long term value of interacting socially is
becoming more apparent to vendors looking for ways to enable
channel partners’ sales success.
This cheat sheet shares best practices used by Fortune 100
companies to get their partners to effectively promote their
products and services using social media.
OK, I get it. Social media is awesome for my
business. But how do I get my partners to use it?
By now, we all know social media is a game changer in the
channel. But as a vendor, how do you educate your partners,
resellers and VARs to utilize social media channels to sell your
products? Without a plan, consistent communication and
the right tools for your partners, your efforts are likely to be
unsuccessful. We hope to help by sharing six proven strategies
in this cheat sheet.
Educate your partners.
It would be great if all of your partners utilized social media but
chances are a lot of them aren’t sure what to do with it. Assume
your partners could be placed anywhere on the “social media
familiarity scale” – from social media rock stars to someone
who thinks Twitter is a sound a bird makes. Make social media
practices extremely easy for them to understand. Create a
“Social Media 101” webinar or workshop to showcase the main
social media platforms they will be using and how they can utilize
them to drive lead generation. Having an open dialogue with
channel partners is the best way to deliver products and services
to best address real market needs to make them and their
If your partners aren’t utilizing social media, try to understand
what’s stopping them. Is it lack of experience or knowledge
about the platforms? Lack of resources? Lack of response or
customer engagement? Lack of content? Provide an open Q&A
or a partner forum where your partners can share, and you can
get the 411 (a.k.a. detailed information). Once you discover
While webinars and workshops are great starting points to get
your partners using social media to help push your products
and services, what happens after the training? Do partners really
2: Create a purpose!
Everyone looks for a purpose in their work. The same is true
about your partners – why should they promote your products
socially? What’s the incentive? If you want to increase your
partners’ level of engagement you need to provide a reason for
them to get involved.
• Start with a message. What do you want your partners’
customers and prospects to know?
• Create an email that speaks to that message. What’s your
call to action? Why should customers care?
• Create a customizable landing page where partners can
insert their logo and contact info. Make a simple landing
number and company email.
According to SocialMediaB2B.com, the key to engagement
is providing value to a community, and that usually starts with
quality content. This is not free reign to say how amazing your
company is and how you have all the answers.
3: Provide content.
If you don’t already have a partner portal – get
one. The following advice assumes you already
First, make sure your partner portal or channel conduit is easy
summary of the portal, how partners can use it, what results
partners can expect to achieve, and a spelled-out plan of how
to use the assets available to them.
All easy. All simple. Give them content that helps THEM.
Be sure to put these items in your portal:
• Data sheets
• Follow-up phone scripts and emails
• Website landing pages
• Social media posts with calls to action
All these pages should be branded but include instructions on
how partners can co-brand each piece. Create a schedule to
push the content to your channel partners on an ongoing basis.
4: Establish open communication.
Dell tells us having an open dialogue with channel partners is
the best way to deliver products and services that address real
market needs to make them and their customers successful.
This is a simple two-step process that involves 1) listening and
2) reaching out.
The responsibility of listening falls on the people managing your
social media accounts. Listening is just as important as sharing
your thoughts. Before posting to your social media platforms,
listen to what your partners are saying. What’s important to
them? What are they interested in? Industry-specific news?
Best practices on how to grow their business? Be aware of your
partners’ pain points and the latest trends occurring around their
industry. Getting YOUR message out there shouldn’t be your
only focus. Social media has become one of the most effective
ways to learn from your partner community.
Create partner-facing social media profiles on LinkedIn and
Twitter using your company name, i.e. @DellChannels or @
SeagateChannels. This becomes a place where partners not
only seek out your information, but where they can share their
thoughts and opinions and where you can listen. One brilliant
example of this is Dell. Dell has a page dedicated to social media
on their partner portal. This page provides partners with access
to social media tools, useful tips, links to all of Dell’s social media
platforms, a Q&A forum, and registrations for live virtual training
sessions and on-demand refresher course.
5: Before you reach out, STAND OUT!
Remember how we mentioned the billions of people using
social media? Well, you need to STAND OUT because it’s so
crowded! Social media is a chance to show your personality
and the culture of your company. Personality helps elicit an
emotional response which leads to higher engagement from
Fans, Followers and Connections. It’s important to communicate
with your partners in a professional manner, but not at the risk
of losing their interest – show them why they should be working
with you! Focus on attracting prospective customers by offering
Partners are bombarded with messages from vendors, so
standing out is a must – speak to them clearly, specifically
and often. You’re having a conversation with them through the
medium of social media, so make it just that – conversational.
Take the content and tools already at your disposal and come
up with creative messages and ways to integrate content into
relevant platforms. Make sure you have internal resources
that are qualified to talk about your products and/or services,
understand how to engage socially and can respond in real-time.
Now that you’re standing out and have your partners’ attention,
you can help them to stand out to customers using social media.
Show your partners the resources and platforms to use, and
short cuts within each.
Provide your partners with step-by-step directions on how to
set-up a Facebook pages site and provide them with your brand
logos. Add the link to company communications and sites and
share with employees. For Twitter, create common #hashtags
and decide how many tweets should go out daily. Add this
Twitter handle to company communications and sites.
VMware makes new content available to their partners
on a regular basis where they can provide filters and
customize content to their specific company and
industry. The content is automatically pushed out
with the company’s branding as if they had written
it themselves and the vendor’s marketing message
remains consistent. This allows larger B2B companies
with the resources to produce engaging content and
for their channel partners to share it and follow up on
the discussions that ensue.
Dell’s user-driven experience is engaging and unique,
providing partners with creative tips on how to make the
most of today’s social media tools.
Research social blog communities where partners can become
part of the conversation. Provide them the content and bit.ly links
to use in the conversation. Now all your partners have to do is
6: Expand your reach.
If your social media content focuses on only a single market, you
are neglecting thousands of other opportunities. Social media
works best when people connect directly around topics they
are passionate about. Tailor your messages to each audience
and show them how they can use your
product or service or how you can solve
their problems. Then, reach out to these
different audiences through your social
Company Pages on LinkedIn
Do you have one yet? This serves as a great online community
for not only your partners but also your customers. LinkedIn’s
Company Profiles allow you to expand your social footprint by
adding more details of your products/services, adding social
media links, and creating status updates. Additionally, you can
add your company sponsored LinkedIn Groups – which you
should also have by the way.
Create and join LinkedIn Groups that relate to your space
and offer insights, promotions or highlights to the groups on a
weekly basis. Engage in conversations around products and
services that are relevant to your own. Invite your partners and
ask them to invite their peers – this is a big social circle so the
more the merrier. Always include links back to your site and use
bit.ly links so you can track this engagement. Staying relevant
and prominent in these groups will give you an advantage as
a thought-leader and will give your partners content to engage
with and share on their own. If you’re providing content for your
partners to push out you’re expanding your reach and they can
follow up on these discussions on their own.
Join the Blogoshpere
Like we mentioned earlier, you should be looking for relevant
communities to share your knowledge with, but you should also
be creating a community of your own. Your blog can be partner-
facing and provide updates to them, as well as items for them
to use in their promotions. It can also be customer facing so
you can stay relevant and top-of-mind for your customers by
providing them the latest updates and news. Remember that
this should be integrated with all your other social media efforts.
Inter-link your communities, share with your partners and share
on your other social sites.
Be relevant on the world’s 2nd largest
YouTube is a great resource for you and your partners to highlight
offers, products, services and to share your knowledge. You and
your partners should be consistent in discussing topics that you
are experts on and your audience needs an answer for. Utilizing
YouTube makes it easy for your partners to share your updates
and gather content from your videos to share other places, plus
it makes tracking views and comments simple –
Hey! Another place where you can answer
questions and stay top-of-mind with your
In conclusion, it does take a lot of time and attention to master
the social world, but it will always be a place where people go
to find content and answers – so why not be right where they’re
looking? Social media will require daily attention, but creating an
actionable plan for producing relevant content, listening to the
conversation, and engaging directly with partners, customers
and prospects will return great value to your company.
“VMware sees a huge opportunity with social networks.
Our partners know better than anyone the substantial
savings end-users get from leveraging VMware’s
offerings, so the more they are out talking about the
success they’ve had and answering people’s questions,
the better it is for everyone.”
– Lisa Caratozzolo, Partner Communications Manager,