25 April – The 3 biggest numbers in social media. Why is this important to us, channel marketers?

Last week was a special week. Not only because of the Easter Break and the last minute-rush to get important work completed before a four-day break, but it was also the week that the 3 biggest numbers in social media were released, in an almost synchronised fashion.

 

Firstly, Facebook, hit the 1 Billion mobile monthly active user mark. Yes every month, there are now 1 Billion (1.04 Billion to be exact) monthly active users of Facebook on their mobiles. This is an incredible achievement, and effectively means that 1 in 7 of the world’s population is regularly using Facebook on their mobile phones.

 

The good news didn’t stop there for Facebook. Its recent acquisition WhatsApp, hit the 500 million user mark. Again, an incredible achievement for a company and app which was only founded little more than five years ago and until last year had only 200 million users.

 

Finally, LinkedIn, increased its user base to 300 million. Again an astounding achievement for a network which, unlike the other social media networks, positions itself exclusively for the professional sides of our lives. This increase in users has been as a result of its push to mobile.

 

What is this telling us?

 

Firstly, the increase in network size comes as a result of a whole host of users, both individual and corporate, flooding to the social media networks. This tells us that social media networks are generating leads as much in the consumer world, as they are in the B2B world. It’s also the case that your customers are on the social media networks, and that they are looking for content outside of their own personal interest; they’re looking for content which engages them professionally too.

 

This means that you, as a marketer, need to consider social media networks as a new channel and as a new shop window for your business. This substantial growth in network size justifies the time and effort you will be required to invest on these emerging channels.

 

Secondly, these stats are also highlighting that the next step in the social media story is the push to mobile.

 

This ties in, not only with the increase in technology and mobile data infrastructure which has developed over the past decade or so, but also professionally, to the emergence of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. Now, professionals are able to use and take advantage of advanced apps, and interact with professional connections in the same way, through the same apps that they use for their personal connections.

 

For marketers in the channel, this news is vital. Your customers are not only active on social media networks as private individuals, but they are also on social media networks as representatives of the enterprises they work for. They are using social media networks to network professionally and researching their organisation’s next purchase, or partnership.

These 3 big numbers should tell you that the time is certainly nigh to be working with your partners on these social media networks.

 

Take advantage of social media

 

If you want to find out how you can take advantage of social media networks with your channel partners effectively, then please call me on 07876 472461, or email me.

24 April – Marketing through your partners – what do you need to remember?

Let me set the scenario for you: you’re a channel marketer new to the company. You are being asked to implement a new channel co-marketing marketing program, via a network of 10,000 partners, of all different sizes, in different locations, selling different things.

 

I’ve been in this situation a few times before, and there is no better way to get your heart racing. So what exactly do you need to do? What do you need to remember?

 

Understand your partners and adapt your approach

 

The first thing you need to start doing is understanding, and segmenting your partner network. With a typical network of this size, you are obviously going to work with many different types of partners.

 

There are going to be a handful of large, important partners. These are likely to be account-managed, with strong marketing teams, good budgets and good access.

But you can’t generalise, and your approach needs to be different, depending on who you are working with.

 

Most of your partners are likely to be small with no marketing teams, they won’t be account managed. In fact, most of their relationship with your company is likely to be through your partner portal, and perhaps an annual face to face meeting, maybe.

 

So, you need to consider that whilst some of your partners will have the time, resources, knowledge and budgets to do marketing (with or even without you), the majority of your partners won’t have!

 

You need to adapt what you do and what you offer. Yes, you can put together a very complete co-marketing programme (with lots of collateral, potentially running off a concierge platform where partners can send emails to prospect from within) but for most partners, simple things like logos, key supporting collateral and word descriptions will be enough (and all they want/need).

 

 

You are NOT alone

 

Another thing to consider is that most of your partners will not just be selling your products or services. As much as you want to believe that you are the most important name in the market, the reality is that there is a lot of competition for your partners and your customers from other companies. Your partners will be selling your products and services side-by-side with your competitors.

 

With this in mind, you’re marketing needs to be simple, relevant and timely. This is as important for your larger partners as it is for the smaller ones. For larger partners, you need to be more hands on, working with them. For your smaller partners, it’s about ensuring that you can provide marketing collateral for them that they can take and use quickly and easily. This also needs to happen frequently, continually evolving and adapting to the changing needs of your partners and customers.

 

So what about failure? What definitely does not work in the channel?

 

Simply: Co-Branded Marketing. I’ve seen so many different companies launch or attempt to launch co-branded marketing campaigns with their partners. This fails for a number of reasons. Initially, the requirements of co-branded marketing, effectively rules out all but the top echelon of partners to work with. This immediately alienates everybody else. Then you have the issue that any marketing campaign which is co-branded is immediately, and exponentially more complex than any other type of marketing. You now have two brands, two marketing teams, two chains of authority all fighting for space, influence, prominence and message. This is a nightmare, and even with the most precise management of these types of projects, it’s impossible to manage and control, remain in budget, meet expectations, deliver on time and maintain a good relationship.

 

Ultimately, co-branded marketing efforts are too focused, and often too complex to work properly. When you stack up the time, money and effort required to complete a co-branded marketing proposition versus a traditional channel marketing campaign, it’s a no-brainer.

 

As a channel marketer, you should distance yourself from complexity at all costs. This relates to complexity for your partners. The final thing to remember is that you are effectively a marketing resource for them as much as your own organisation, so anything you can do to reduce the complexity for them, will work. Anything you do which adds complexity into their daily jobs, will definitely not work.

 

What works?

 

Well, I am undoubtedly biased, but clearly whatever you do needs to:

 

-          Be simple for partners to understand and use

-          Be relevant to partners and their prospects (with news from you as well as industry/ though-leadership content).

 

A social media amplification solution like socialondemand® fits these requirements and much more…enabling you to, very easily, empower your partners with your social media/ rich content whilst guaranteeing maximum reach for your content and brand messages.

 

14 April – Social Media Managers, make social media marketing work for your enterprise. Part 3: Your job is changing.

In this blog series, I will discuss how you, the Social Media Manager, can make social media work to better market your enterprise.

 

I am going to focus on the ‘marketing’ side of social media – I won’t be covering how it can be successfully used for technical support, customer service or HR recruitment. I will also focus on organisations that sell through intermediaries, be it distributors, wholesalers, resellers, dealers, retailers and the likes.

 

Now we’ve discussed why/how you should involve more brand advocates in your activities (Part 1) and where you should source content (Part 2), let’s look at all the other facets of your job.

 

To truly socially enable your organisation, you need to change gears:

 

VISION

 

As a Social Media Manager, you may have a key role within your enterprise, but your organisation’s strategic direction is driven from the top-down. What is key in socially enabling the enterprise is leadership vision and buy-in. The leadership team needs to recognise that social media marketing goes beyond your company’s own Twitter handle.

 

TRUST

 

There needs to be a sense of trust between departments and with employees. Embarking on a journey of content distribution outside your company’s own social media channels can be challenging for a variety of reasons. I will discuss how these challenges can be easily overcome later in this blog, but for now, trust needs to be in place.

 

POLICY AND COMPLIANCE

 

Most organisations will have a management programme, or framework governing access, use, and activity on social media platforms relating to the enterprise. What needs to change in order to socially enable the organisation completely, is to ensure that the organisation has a complete and workable policy which governs the boundaries of social media content distribution, content compliance, and conduct of the employee on social media networks. This is not impossible, but requires vision, trust and flexibility.

 

TRAINING

 

Finally, after setting the vision, trusting your employees and other stakeholders, and with a sensible framework in place, you need to ensure that they are prepared, and trained in how to in effect, become a surrogate member of the marketing team. Content distribution will inspire engagement, and your employees and stakeholders will need to understand how to manage that, and even identify and divert leads into your sales teams.

 

FINALLY

 

I have worked at and with many enterprises. The ones who are consistently successful with their social media marketing are the ones with the right vision, trust in their employees and partners, a robust but sensible social media governance policy, and the right training to enable and empower their content distributors.

 

In the not-too-distant future, the enterprises who don’t loosen the reins on social media, and who do not involve their employees, partners and other stakeholders in their social media efforts will be left far behind.

 

It is your job, as the Social Media Manager, to make this happen. It is not simply about pushing a post on Twitter…

 

Part 1 of this series looked at how you could benefit from sharing and amplifying your content with and through your extended brand advocates. Part 2 of this series talked about how to align your internal teams for content creation, curation and sourcing.

 

If you’d like to learn more about social media amplification, just give me a shout. Our own solution – socialondemand® – is delivering great results to our customers. Check out our case studies with Palo Alto Networks, Avnet, Adobe or Acronis.

08 April – Social Media Managers, make social media marketing work for your enterprise. Part 2: Change your job and involve all content providers.

 

In this blog series, I will discuss how you, the Social Media Manager, can make social media work to better market your enterprise.

 

I am going to focus on the ‘marketing’ side of social media – I won’t be covering how it can be successfully used for technical support, customer service or HR recruitment. I will also focus on organisations that sell through intermediaries, be it distributors, wholesalers, resellers, dealers, retailers and the likes.

 

With this in mind, and further to Part 1 (‘Change your job and involve all brand influencers’), I would like to continue our journey and look at how Social Media Managers need to change their approach to content and stop acting as a silo of resources.

 

 

INVOLVE

Today, I see a lot of Social Media Managers becoming unintentional content gatekeepers and this undeniably inhibits cooperation.

 

Considering that using content amplification (as discussed in Part 1) can help organisations target social media content better, Social Media Managers should now look at ‘opening up’ the content that can be shared on social media, i.e. providing end-user brand/ product messages for some, channel-focused messages for others, technical documents for the most technically-minded buyers, and general brand messages through the most business-minded audiences.

 

To achieve this, Social Media Managers must start to network within their organisation and involve all ‘content producers’, internally and externally. The social media effort should be a team effort, not an activity reserved for ‘the few’. It should involve all the experts, those in the thick of it, that exist in the organisation, and beyond.

 

 

INTERNAL CONTENT PROVIDERS

Look at your Product Managers for technical content (trust me there are people out there that love tech content!). Involve your Product Marketing, Industry Marketing, Channel Marketing, End-user Marketing and Field Marketing teams. Consider your Alliance Managers, and of course your usual PR, AR (Analyst Relations), and Marcoms teams. Why not involve your Market Research teams?

 

But don’t stop there. Include your PR/ Marcoms/ Marketing agencies. Work with industry influencers too.

 

Social Media Amplification

Social Media Amplification

In fact, the more content providers, the merrier … and the more interesting and diverse your content will be. It also doesn’t always have to be about you and your company. Make sure you mix the type of content you share with your sales partners and employees (read Part 1 for more information). If you want your company to be well represented, don’t make your ‘intermediaries’ and ‘influencers’ look too biased; throw in some market/ industry news, or thought-leadership pieces every so often. Your news is not always exciting (admit it!) so add some ‘really clever’ content in to the mix.

 

 

CONTROL and COMPLIANCE

BUT, wherever you get your content from, make sure it’s compliant with your own company’s brand and content policies, as well as external regulations. To do this, you will need to ensure that ‘corporate’ and ‘regional’ approvals are required before this content is shared with all your brand advocates.

 

If you’d like to learn more about social media amplification, just give me a shout. Our own solution – socialondemand® – is delivering great results to our customers. Check out our case studies with Palo Alto Networks, Avnet, Adobe or Acronis.

 

Part 1 of this series looked at how you could benefit from sharing and amplifying your content with and through your extended brand advocates. Part 3 will look at what being a Social Media Manager should mean.

03 April – Social Media Managers, make social media marketing work for your enterprise. Part 1: Change your job and involve all brand influencers

In this blog series, I will discuss how you, the Social Media Manager, can make social media work to better market your enterprise.

 

I am going to focus on the ‘marketing’ side of social media – I won’t be covering how it can be successfully used for technical support, customer service or HR recruitment. I will also focus on organisations that sell through intermediaries, be it distributors, wholesalers, resellers, dealers, retailers and the likes.

 

Let’s back-track a little bit, to about 2006/7. In these heady-days, a new role of the “Social Media Manager” was created. Initially, these early pioneers had to carve out their own role, and more than likely, defined their own job description, as much as their employers.

 

Since then, Social Media Managers have become commonplace, and the sophistication in their roles has increased. They also need to change, and quickly, to be able to seize the opportunities that exist on social media networks.

 

So, to my first point: Social Media Managers spend too much time managing their own social networks.

 

Social Media Managers currently tend to be solely responsible for managing their organisation’s own ‘direct’ social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and others. They push general and untargeted marketing/ brand messages to whoever follows them, typically not many. In this scenario, aligning Social Media with PR may make sense, but…

 

The issue here, faced by many organisations that do not actually sell direct, is that any demand or interest generated by these social media activities cannot be answered by the companies themselves… and therefore inevitably gets lost. Too much time is being spent between ‘interest generated’, ‘finding a place to buy’ and actually ‘buying’.

 

Go ‘Indirect’ with your social media

 

Simply put, Social Media Managers should not be the only ones with the keys to the car. They should create cooperation between the brand (and the marketing power it has) and all the influencers (those with the feet on the street), whether they are internal or external.

 

Call it content sharing, distribution, syndication or amplification, whatever you prefer. In short, you should consider letting your sales partners, intermediaries, referral partners and other brand advocates influence their customers with your brand content.

 

Share content with them that they can post on your behalf…simple, and effective!

Don’t stop there. Involve your ‘internal’ influencers, like your sales teams, like your CEO and other senior managers. These guys all have very significant LinkedIn contacts and networks… start there. Give them your content and let them share this with their own networks.

 

What is there to gain?

 

Not only will you provide your brand advocates with the content they would not be able to create themselves, but you will also make them look good and ‘socially active’… something they may struggle to be.

 

You will gain from increased visibility and awareness of your brand and messages by amplifying through your extended influencers’ networks.

 

AND, this is a big ‘and’, you will also create interest where it really matters – between the sellers (i.e. your intermediaries) and potential buyers (the followers and friends of your intermediaries). You will help significantly reduce the time between ‘interest generated’, and ‘buying’.

 

If you’d like to learn more about social media amplification, just give me a shout. Our own solution – socialondemand® – is delivering great results to our customers. Check out our case studies with Palo Alto Networks, Avnet, Adobe or Acronis.

 

Part 2 of this series will talk about how to align your internal teams for content creation, curation and sourcing. Part 3 will look at what being a Social Media Manager should mean.