Social media. The great marketing buzzword of the decade. As a B2B supplier, should you develop a concrete social media strategy for your channel partners, or forego it for more traditional marketing methods?
Look at the social media presence of companies like Microsoft and you have the answer to that question. Not only does the company itself leave an immense social media footprint (its LinkedIn page boasts almost 3 million followers with thousands engaging with their boasts), but Microsoft’s channel partners — like computer manufacturers — produce an endless amount of social media content promoting Windows or other Microsoft products.
Okay, we hear you say, but Microsoft is an easy example. It's a household name. For every Microsoft, there are thousands of businesses whose social media strategy just can't cut it. True. But we'd wager that many of those companies don't optimize social media as part of their channel marketing strategy.
Social Media: The Facts
According to recent reports, over 40 percent of B2B buyers consider LinkedIn a great tool for researching new purchases, and 65 percent of B2B companies have won new business through the site. That's the good news. The challenge is that many B2B companies struggle with understanding the role social media can play in their marketing efforts.
The strength of social media comes from providing you and your partners with a uniform marketing platform and a consumer base ready to hear what you've got to say, provided what you've got to say is educational or entertaining.
Bringing Your Channel Partners Up to Speed
Just like any other marketing efforts, your social media marketing efforts should have a clear objective. For example, a combination of these goals:
Most B2B buyers will make the internet their first stop for researching new purchases, and 86 percent of buyers see "no real difference between suppliers", meaning that any marketing material has to reach them on a personal level. Lesson? Be where your customers are, and don’t be afraid to really target your messaging. Help your partners identify the challenges their customers face and position your products to reach them effectively via: videos, infographics, case studies and other marketing and training material. Then, enable your partners even further by encouraging them to engage on social media.
The goal is to help the end users do their jobs, and to speak to them in a language they understand. Provide your partners with the resources they need to reach and communicate with their customers effectively, and everybody wins.