November 21, 2013

Getting social with partners

By Richard No comments

Four ways channel marketers can ensure their partners are making the most of Social media marketing.

There’s no denying that social media is having a profound effect on B2B marketing. According to Marketo, 56% of B2B marketers have acquired new customers using social media but generating enough quality content and distributing it so that it’s in front of customers and prospects at the right time were two of the top challenges facing B2B marketers in 2013.

For channel marketers there’s a challenge: how to get partner organisations involved with social media so that it drives better customer experience and delivers more leads. Your own company marketing strategy might be fully utilising social media, but if your partners are not on board then your message is only partly getting out.

So, helping partners both understand and use social media in their own marketing plans is essential. Here are four way you can enable your partners to go social:

Talk to your partners:

Find out what they’re doing already and – here’s the key thing; are they aligning their content and social plans with yours?

Are they using any social media channels and if so, which ones? Are they linked to the same audience/friends/followers? What have they been posting? Understanding their individual progress with social media gives you an idea of what level of support they need. Use this knowledge to create a series of workshops to get them to the level of expertise and alignment you need them to be at. It’s also a good idea to give them a central place where they can learn more about social media the way you want them to use this, so consider building a partner hub or portal that facilitates their learning and improvement.

Give them a thorough content calendar:

Social media campaigns need careful planning. What do you say? What are the topics? When do you post? Where do you say it? Will you get your partners to run the same themes as you at the same time? These are all questions that a good social media plan will answer. When providing partner-led social media campaigns ensure that your plans are clear and easy to follow, telling them what, when and where to post. Often their expertise won’t be as high as yours, so not being too assumptive is important.

Provide good content:

Although this might sound obvious, creating good B2B social content is challenging. For a start your organisation’s brand guardians will have guidelines on how to implement social media, and these sometimes make saying what you want to say a little tricky. Even so, it’s the quality of this content that is critical to the success of a social media campaign – if you can’t say anything interesting you’re not going to be interesting. Both the quality of any content assets you provide and the quality of the social posting content need to be optimised to maximise engagement with your audience.

It’s all about relationships:

Social media is just that; social. So help your partners go further with their marketing and get them talking to others on social media, not just using it to market content. Engage in relevant conversations; teach them to add value, to increase their own profile, both as individuals and as a brand. They can also start using it to provide better customer experiences, dealing with questions or complaints in real-time – even training their internal teams so that the most qualified staff members engage with these customers. It’s this continuous positive engagement that makes customers loyal and turns them into advocates.

Getting partners to amplify your message has always been crucial, social media is now playing an increasingly important role in this too.