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Getting your Channel Partners to Drive Revenue Using Social Media
 

Getting your Channel Partners to Drive Revenue Using Social Media

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4/3/2013. hawkeye Channel Whitepaper

4/3/2013. hawkeye Channel Whitepaper

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    Getting your Channel Partners to Drive Revenue Using Social Media Getting your Channel Partners to Drive Revenue Using Social Media Document Transcript

    • hawkeye Channel Cheatsheet hawkeyechannel.com 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 140 characters! 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.
    • 2 hawkeyechannel.com 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. Tip # 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 customers successful. 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 Tip # 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. Tip # 3: Provide content. If you don’t already have a partner portal – get one. The following advice assumes you already have one. 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 • Emails • 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.
    • Tip # 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. Listening 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. Reaching Out 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. Tip # 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 useful information. 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. hawkeyechannel.com 3 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 follow up. Tip # 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 platforms. 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 search engine. 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 partners. 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. 4 hawkeyechannel.com “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, VMware
    • North America Centerpoint, Cascade East 20819 72nd Ave S. Suite 725 Kent, WA 98032 +1 800 981 9154 EMEA 1st Floor Otterman House 12 Petersham Road Richmond-upon-Thames Surrey TW10 6UW +44 208 614 9593 APAC 3 Temasek Avenue 21-00 Centennial Tower Singapore 039190 +65 6549-7498 LATAM 2332 Galiano St. 2nd Floor Coral Gables, FL 33134 +1 305 728 7054 hawkeye gives no warranty or representation as to the accuracy, completeness or legality of the advice contained in this paper, and any warranties implied by law are hereby expressly excluded to the fullest extent permissible. © 2013 hawkeye, all rights reserved. about hawkeye Channel hawkeye Channel, a leading global channel company, packages channel intelligence and cloud technologies into smart solutions that are proven to elevate your channel and maximize every investment. The largest technology companies in the world entrust hawkeye Channel to engage, empower and motivate their channel. contact us Contact us today to discover how we can help you get the maximum return on your channel investment. team@hawkeyechannel.com About the author Sarah Foulkes Sarah is an innovative marketing professional with over two years of experience in marketing and communication. She is well-versed in B2B and B2C integrated marketing practices, campaign strategy and creation, delivery and reporting. Since joining hawkeye Channel, Sarah has worked closely with stakeholders on marketing campaigns, web site content, email and digital marketing and social media. Sarah has a B.A in Communication from Washington State University with a minor in Hospitality Business Management. She is absolutely in love with her puppy. He is mastiff-pitbull mix with lots of energy – just like her. Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahnfoulkes