One of the most common challenges channel marketers face is that channels all have such varying levels of marketing knowledge and resources. It is therefore not surprising that finding the time to do social media is way down their priority list.
So with this in mind, how can you begin to build a social media programme that supports all your channel partners’ needs?
Well, at The Channel Meet Up event on the 16th June I asked a number of industry thought leaders to share their views on this specific issue:
- Andy Hill, Head of Digital Mastery at Xerox
- Louise Hunter, Senior Marketing Manager, EMEA Partners & Commercial, Juniper Networks
- Neil Walker, Senior Channel Marketing Manager, EMEA PFU (EMEA) Limited – a Fujitsu company
The main challenges recognised
- Aging issue
Neil Walker believes the reason some channel partners show a lack of interest towards social media is because the decision makers in the company are over the age of 40, and do not recognise the impact that social media could have on their businesses success.
- Social media strategy
Louise Hunter recognises that even though some channel partners do not have a social media strategy, they and their employees are still posting to social media. They are trying to gain some exposure in the social media sphere, but unfortunately they are not always posting the right way, to really benefit their brand.
Encouraging channel partners to be socially active provokes other challenges too, namely consistency, as pointed out by Louise Hunter. The last thing you want is for your image to be affected or for false information to be shared.
Another common issue, which Louise Hunter raised, was the need for content to be created in a variety of languages to appeal to audiences across multiple markets. We can all see the importance of this for attracting a wider audience, but it’s easier said than done right?
Solutions from the experts
- Educate your partners
Andy Hill feels that educating channel partners on the power of social media and how to use it effectively is half the battle. Only then will they be driven to socially enable your brand. This can be executed through a carefully designed training program which suits all capabilities, ensuring channel partners are at the same level, and understand the power social media can bring to their business.
- Create a plan for channel partners to follow
Whilst instilling social media into your channel partners’ lives, Louise Hunter also recommends encouraging them to set up a social media calendar for sharing content daily. By doing this Louise has discovered that channel partners are more likely to share your content as they will rely on your content to fill up their social media calendar.
A plan also gives your channel partners a direction to follow, encouraging them to remain on board with your program. Without a plan they could quickly fall back into old habits of inconsistent and ineffective posting, which won’t benefit either party.
With regards to creating content, Andy Hill recommends posting 80% industry content and 20% brand content. As Andy says, “If you just talk about yourself no-one will be interested, that’s why you need to mix it with a reasonable amount of industry content.”
- Encouraging consistency
Brand guidelines as well as training go hand in hand for minimising consistency issues, as pointed out by Andy Hill. I personally also recommend deploying a social media advocacy platform, such as our own socialondemand where content created by you is sent to channel partners, who then in less than three clicks, share your content to their social media accounts, as if it came directly from themselves. This not only makes it easier for channel partners to maintain a social presence, but it also minimises the opportunity for inconsistency to occur.
When Neil Walker, Louise Hunter and Andy Hill first deployed socialondemand into their organisations they all ran a pilot test, whereby they only made this tool available to a small proportion of their audience. This way they could test the functionality and effectiveness for their brands requirements, whilst establishing whether they are likely to receive a return on investment.
When operating in a multitude of countries, each with their own language, Andy Hill who has successfully resolved this challenge recommends that you request, for example, the French team to create their own content to share with their French partners. This way they can provide targeted, engaging content specifically designed for the audience in that country, thus improving their appeal to a wider audience.
Hopefully these thoughts and tips will prove useful. That’s what makes The Channel Meet Up great. It gives us all the opportunity to share our wisdom, as well as hear other success stories.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community