23 February – Why you NOW need to understand GDPR if you are in or trade in Europe

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With our GDPR webinar, on the 8th March which Ian Moyse (Industry Cloud leader & Non Exec director of a GDPR training Organisation) is presenting in, Ian has kindly provided us with a fantastic article to share with you all.

 

You may have heard the term GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and if not you certainly will. As we approach May 25th 2018, when this becomes European law, the noise around this will grow.

 

Don’t stop reading now as the acronym seems boring and not relevant to you, it is and it is !

What’s happening is that a new law will come into play across Europe, yes the UK included too, Brexit or no Brexit it will apply! This law will effect organisations with operations in the EU, those that trade from one EU country to another or those that simply trade within territory.

 

This is not another year 2000 hype where there was no impact or pain. The impact is already happening and the pain is going to get greater!

 

If you’re not sure what the GDPR is or how it will affect your business, now’s the time to start paying attention.  This is all about company’s legal liability to protect data they hold on staff, customers and in fact anyone where personal details are stored and the impact (fines £) that are going to ensure if you don’t!

 

So this encompasses cloud, on premise, IOT and mobile, no matter where you store data, if it meets the criteria of personally identifiable and relevant information then you need to comply.

 

Ignorance will not be an excuse and in fact will put you in a far worse position. Better you can demonstrate your diligence of action and how you have tried to mitigate any risk as a defence. It is good practise to be able to demonstrate that you have attended training, acted on the process recommended from it and tried to do the right thing and you have a far better chance of being treated leniently and worked with rather than against it should the worst happen.

 

There is a wealth of information and articles on GDPR available, unfortunately they mostly quickly defer to complex detailed information and do NOT give clear and plain guidance as to what it means and what needs to be done, hence stats such as “96% of businesses do not fully understand GDPR (Source : Symantec 2016 – Global Security Mag).

 

Any firm operating in the EU will need to legally comply and demonstrate that they hold personal data securely and have strong processes around this for data holding, security and destruction.

 

So let’s make this clear and simple in 3 buckets, why it is, what it is and what you need to do;

 

Data is important and you have a legal responsibility to do certain things

Data breaches hit all-time record high in 2016 with an increase of 40% over 2015! (Source Help Net Security)

 

You may have already heard about some of the high profile names who had such breaches in the last couple of few years such as Three Mobile(UK), French naval defence contractor DCNS,  Vodafone (Germany), Tesco Bank (UK) , Bundestag (Germany), the Czech Ministry of Education, the Irish Department of Social and Family Affairs,  Kiddicare (UK) and we could go on and there will be more of these stories coming for sure!

 

Data Protection Laws are long due an overhaul. For example most Data Protection Acts have not been revisited since the late 90’s at best (eg Data Protection Act, 1998), since when the world has changed radically;  the internet, cloud, and mobile changing the volume of interactions and data exchanges taking place.

 

 

What GDPR is

GDPR is the new law that requires from May 2018 (source Europa), any business that operates in the EU or handles the personal data of people that reside in the EU must implement a strong data protection policy to protect this client data. It is the EU’s way of giving customers more power over their data and less power to the organisations that collect and use such data for monetary gain. Businesses that fail to meet the new standard will face fines of up to 4% of global turnover or €20m (whichever is larger) and businesses that suffer from a data breach without having adequate measures in place will suffer the same.

 

So this is a law, something mandatory you need to take action on as a Director of a firm with Director liabilities and something that your customers care about. See this not as a threat but as an opportunity to get your ship in shape and proudly state to customers you have been on GDPR training and are taking action with processes to be a good caring supplier. Consider putting a GDPR and how we care for your data section on your website, alongside contact us and about us.

 

What Action you need to take….  (and Don’t Panic)

You need to be prepared as a business to take action now and to mitigate the risks you face.

Do not assume you are immune from a security leak of data and that you can deal with it afterwards!  By taking action now you can help reduce the risk of it happening and by taking demonstrable action, it will provide you a defensive protection should the worst happen.

 

The May 2018 deadline may seem a long way off now, but businesses must act today in order to understand what it will take for them to achieve compliance. You need to have time to do it too, and to do it without panic, whilst fitting it in alongside your day to day running of the business.

 

You need to get the ball rolling and have a plan of actions for your journey to GDPR, so that come 2018 you have no panic, no worries and can assure your customers of your compliance.

 

There is already much scrutiny from customers on non EU businesses, such as USA cloud providers operating in the region and there will be increased expectation under GDPR as more customers promote their GDPR compliance as a comfort feeling for their own customers.

 

There is much talk for example that every organization will need to appoint a Data Protection Officer and that failure to do so will expose you to possible huge financial sanctions. In some cases, this may be required. You need to understand this now, so you can construct the most effective plan to ensure you are compliant in the most effective manner for your business.

 

The last Information Commissioners Office survey found that 75% of adults don’t trust businesses with their personal data (source Alphr) So as well as being legally compliant you can also utilize this in a positive way to re-assure clients dealing with you.

 

You will find many offering 3 day courses and/or complex expensive consultancy and whilst for some this may be appropriate; the majority will allocate someone in their business to manage this process. This will often involve a day’s awareness and process training workshop, which will get you on the way with plenty of time to implement this into your business.

 

 

If you found this article interesting and would like to know more, please do register for our webinar on the 8th March, where Ian Moyse will be talking about this very topic as well as answering any questions you may have. We hope to see you there.

16 February – GAME ON: Marketers versus Partners

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Imagine this.

 

You’re in a room with 60 technology vendor and partner representatives, with a no-holds-barred remit to make the deal of the century. What would you do?

 

It’s exactly what happened at our latest Channel Meet Up event, held in Google UK’s prestigious Town Hall.

 

Instead of the usual conference approach of presentations, we brought in Jim Wallman from Past Perspectives, a strategic gaming company, to create a scenario where our attendees could work together and explore possibilities that they don’t get the chance to in the real world.

 

The fun part? To make deals with competing teams in an environment where anything was possible.

 

The real deal? To create a platform for networking and conversation in a world where digital, mobile, and other technology advances – instead of connecting us – have in fact created a disconnect. Today it’s all too easy to hide behind social media, email and IM, but a lot of insight can get lost when we don’t get together in a room with our peers – and competitors – once in a while.

 

How our world is changing  

Kicking off the day was a talk by Yvonne Cheung, Industry Head for Business Technology at Google UK, titled ‘The New B2B Journey’.

 

Yvonne shared several startling facts. Among these were that 49% of IT buyers do their research outside of normal working hours. 41% do their research at the weekends, and 21% on their holidays.

 

Small insights that make a big difference to how and when we talk to our audience.

The days of marketing during 9-5 hours, Monday to Friday, may well be a thing of the past if you want to reach the B2B decision maker when purchasing decisions are on their mind.

It reflects on the importance of coming together as an industry and talking  – key to staying abreast of what’s working, and what’s not, in B2B marketing.

 

In addition to this, Yvonne made points about device preference, with 7/10 B2B decision makers using mobile devices to research their decisions. But actions, orders and purchases are predominantly made over desktop, so services need to be delivered appropriately.

With Yvonne’s insightful talk fresh in our minds and feeling inspired, it was time for the game.

 

Here’s how it went…

 

The purpose of the game

Gamesmaster Jim Wallman presented the structure and theme for the day: guests were put into teams, and given the task of creating a fictional company and strategy.

 

With this done, the teams had to go about setting up meetings and making (also fictional) deals with the other teams.

 

For the marketers in the room, it was about creating tempting offers to bring partners on board with. While for the partners, the objective was to get the most value from the vendors.

So, what’s possible in a room where anything is possible?

 

Amidst the laughter, joking and out-of-this world deals, some fundamental learnings became clear.

 

Remember the basics, reap the rewards

  • Trust | The importance of building an open and honest relationship between vendors and partners was clear. The scenarios where either party changed what they were asking for when the deal was near final, were those relationships that broke down.
  • Reliability | In close relation to the point above, reliability beyond the deal was also key. Staying fair and maintaining good levels of communications after the contract is signed is vital.
  • Strategic fit | In choosing the right partner, it was agreed that sharing strategic goals is key – with the same corporate vision and similar direction for growth.
  • Desired outcome | Deciding your goal before going into big deals is another critical step that can be overlooked. Do you want to go big with one company, or spread yourself wider and build lots of smaller relationships? This is where you can learn from your peers.

 

Strategies used on the day

  • Widen your view | Don’t just focus on the big fish in the partner world, or those established names. You could cut a more beneficial deal with the start-ups and smaller partner organisations which could reap dividends later as they grow. And because you helped them in the beginning, they’ll remember you later on (linking back to that important point of trust and reliability).
  • The right manpower | Make sure you have enough manpower to manage your relationships. Partners valued dedicated account managers, and the ability to keep face-to-face appointments – remember, communication is key.
  • Tiered benefits | It’s ok to offer bigger benefits and rewards to bring in new partners, and then reduce these in the second and third year of a relationship (as long as it’s not reduced to such an extent that the partner no longer gets anything from the relationship!). For example, a tiered MDF programme to kick-start new relationships (£50,000 in the first year for a key partner, £20,000 in the second year, and so forth).

 

Resources to offer

  • With a little upfront investment, you can create a platform of resources to help your partners get the most from their relationship with you.
  • Co-branded partner marketing portal to help partners sell your solutions, quickly
  • Marketing store for access to campaigns, assets and support
  • Deal registration tool to speed up the decision-making process when partners register opportunities
  • Marketing concierge service – bring in a third-party agency to deliver your partners’ marketing campaigns, funded by their MDF.

So, how did it go? Ok, so ultimately the game was a bit of fun. As Olivier Choron of purechannelapps said, “we wanted to create a platform for networking, where you could talk and set up meetings, but without the formalities of a traditional conference. This was a great icebreaker that’s truly served its purpose.”

Games master Jim Wallman commented, “these games are great at pushing boundaries, and allowing each side to play around with deals and scenarios that they don’t have the chance to in real situations. But in doing so, they can glean some insights that could be put to work in the real world.

 

“How do I know it was a success? When we came to a break, and nobody stopped what they were doing. They just stayed heads-down and working – it was great to see.”

 

One attendee commented on the day “The issue is, we all think our challenges are unique. It’s only when you come to a day like this and actually talk that you realise we all have the same challenges. We’re too isolated today, we need to meet more as an industry to work together on our challenges, share best practice, and move forward.”

 

For those that attended, we hope you enjoyed it and found it insightful. Our next event is planned for Friday, 6th October back at the Runnymede Hotel in Egham, so if you would like to attend, please register your interest here.

 

We also have a channelmeetup LinkedIn group, which I would like to welcome you to join. Here you can connect with other attendees and join in on the conversation.

07 December – How to expand your audience on Social Media

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Social media, there’s no denying, can be (when done correctly) a very effective method for reaching a wider audience. But how can you ensure you’re taking full advantage and are using the right platforms and methods to drive the best results?

 

I was recently joined with Ian Moyse,  a well-known Sales Leader who has a huge social media presence, being rated 2016 and 15’s #1 social influencer on cloud, and #1 on ITSM ,  featured in many social selling leaders reports and has even advised many businesses on how to play the social media game. Here, Ian shared his tips on how to expand your social media presence.

 

  1. What to consider

 

  • Influencing buyers – With 75% of b2b buyers using social media to research a vendor (IDC) and 57% of the buyers journey being done before a sales rep is contacted (CAB), the power of social really has evolved. Ian even points out that incremental decisions are being made, based on content shared through social media. ‘That wouldn’t have happened even 10 years ago,’.

 

  • Transparency – The buyer and influencer dynamic has evolved. Anyone now has the ability to find out everything about, you, your brand, your products, what others think of you, and from this make a decision. It’s therefore more important than ever to portray yourself in the best way possible, across any mediums where they may find you, to sway their buying decision.

 

  • What are your goals? – It’s not enough to just want to be a part of social media because you’ve heard at an event it’s ‘good’, you need to think about what it is you want to accomplish and where you want to go. As Ian says ‘If you don’t know where you want to go, I can’t tell you which route to take.’ Possible goals could be; to generate leads, to appear more established than you are, to gain a wider regional reach or to be seen as a thought leader.

 

  1. Who are your audience?

After you’ve identified your goal, you then need to consider who is your audience. Examples include:

 

  • Customers- End customers
  • Channel partners- Spread your message onwards to their customer base.
  • Analysts- To become recognized in your field
  • Journalists- To create an online buzz and get your brand out there
  • Influencers- To improve the reputation of your business

 

  1. How do you engage with your audience?

Social media is open 24 hours a day so posting once a day will not be enough to grab your audience’s attention.

 

What a lot of thought leaders do is they repeat their content. To do this though you need to have a wide content library. As Ian says ‘What are the chances your audience are going to see it 50 times’?  Social Media is a transient form, no one is sat watching you all the time. Like a TV advert the same ad runs on different channels at different time again and again!  You need to engage the same on social.  Have a mix of good content you can re-use and perhaps post a blog, twice a day, each day at different times across 2 week’s! You want to have as many people as possible to; see it, engage with it and share it on to their audiences! Using a social automation tools will allows you to schedule these in advance to go out at varying times.

 

Social media has the word ‘social’ in the title for a reason. It’s all about communicating with your audience and starting up conversations. By this Ian does not mean, sending them something one off. The relationship needs to be constantly nurtured to keep them interested, whilst encouraging engagement.

 

More than that though, it’s about sharing content that will be of interest to them.

 

  1. How do you grow your audience?

 

  • Focus- Do not be fooled into thinking you need to be on all social networks. If your business does not lend itself to visual display, why have an ‘Instagram’ account? Yes, it’s a huge player in the market, but perhaps not for your industry. Instead focus your efforts on a few social networks suited to your industry. Why not assess your competitors’ efforts and which ones they use?

 

  • Take advantage- Hashtags, keywords, Twitter lists, LinkedIn Groups, are all great ways of attracting your audience’s attention. Spend some time researching these and see how you can take advantage of them. I would highly recommend conducting social listening to see how others are using these effectively. If you can identify a relevant niche not yet served then consider creating a LinkedIn or Facebook group and adding connections/ thought leaders in that space to it. This is a method Ian has found particularly beneficial for starting conversations, engaging his audience and sharing content (Ian’s group now has over 33k members and is continuing to grow consistently!)

 

  • Social Selling- As Ian says ‘people talk to people. They don’t like to feel they’re talking to a bot. To do this you need to take advantage of your sales people and give them training on how to use their social media accounts effectively, for building and engaging with prospects. With 57% of the buyers’ journey occurring before a sales rep is contacted, building your employees online presence is a great way of influencing buying decisions.

 

  • Thought leaders- Do you have influencers, senior level employees or experts in your field that you could be leveraging on social media? This is also another great way of increasing your social media presence, building trust and adding a humanized element to your messaging as well.

 

  • Useful tools- Here are some great tools which Ian Moyse recommends using for improving your social media performance and efficiency:

-Fiverr- Creative marketplace for finding digital services such as creating great profile imagery and social animations cheaply

-Ezgif- Converts videos to GIF’s to make content and is a bit more social media friendly.

-Social media automation tools- To schedule relevant posts to your audience all at once.

-Commun.it- A tool to analyze engagement on Twitter & Facebook and to help you re-engage

 

The main trick is to constantly look for small gains and try to keep up to date with the advancements. ‘I am constantly looking for ways to make social media that bit easier for myself or ways to make me look a bit more professional. Its’ all about those 1% gains, they all add up.’

 

Ian shared some extremely useful tips in here, too many in fact for me to mention within this blog post, so here’s the full version of our ‘Expanding your Social Audience’ webinar. Please do follow us @purechannelapps and @imoyse on Twitter and feel free to ask us some questions.

24 July – My top tips on how to manage social media if you’re a channel marketer

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For those of you who operate within a complex channel, relying on resellers, distributers or other partners to promote your brand to end users can be a real challenge. So I have outlined below some of the common issues/scenarios faced in the channel, and have suggested some ‘Top Tips’ on finding a resolution:

 

  1. ‘My resellers don’t share my posts’

 

Let’s not forget, your resellers do not only work with you, but with your competitors, who like you, are fighting for their attention as well. It’s not surprising that your social media posts are probably not receiving the attention they deserve. Especially when sharing your posts is not the most straightforward task, nor top of the priority list!

 

TIP 1: MAKE IT EASY, USE A SOCIAL MEDIA PROGRAM

 

If it was simple and straight forward – and only took three clicks, then your resllers would be more inclined to perform this task. Not only will this benefit you through increasing your potential reach, but it also allows your resellers to be socially active. Let’s not forget it will also help them to develop their ‘thought leader’ status helping boost their sales potential.

 

There are a range of social media programs out there for you to try, each with varying levels of success. I obviously favour my own, socialondemand, but you could try Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social too. Explore this market further and see what works for you.

 

  1. ‘The post doesn’t sound like my brand’

 

So your resellers finally get around to posting content onto social media about, for example, ‘your new product launch’, but their post title does not portray your brand very well at all, and they do not include a crucial piece of information. This is an issue I hear time and time again.

 

TIP 2: CREATE PRE-POPULATED POSTS FOR ALL SOCIAL NETWORKS

 

I’m sure you’ll agree portraying a consistent brand message that cannot be diluted is highly important. As previously mentioned, a social media program is a great way to achieve this. Alternatively, why not create an email newsletter where articles can be shared to their social media accounts? The slight issue with this is your posts cannot be scheduled throughout the day, and instead will rely on each post being manually shared. A task that may be forgotten. But let’s not be pessimistic, it’s a step in the right direction.

 

  1. My resellers are sharing out-of-date content’

 

So by the time your resellers finally manage to find the time to share your posts, the content is out of date. This is a real bug-bare, particularly if the post was to, for example promote an event/ sale that has been and gone.

 

TIP 3: DISCONTINUE POSTS

 

To ensure this does not occur, by using a social media management system, you can discontinue posts that are no longer appropriate. If however the management tool you have adopted does not enable this feature, a simple approach of labelling posts with the end date could stop this from occurring. Simple but effective.

 

  1. ‘I want to reach a wider market’

 

Resellers, distributors or other partners, whatever channel it is that you sell through, you want to get your message out there to the widest possible market, so that it can be heard by all of your target audience, but how?

 

TIP 4: ADOPT EMPLOYEE ADVOCACY

 

If you have not attempted this before, this is a great way to increase your potential reach. Simply put, it’s the promotion of a brand through its employees. When done correctly, these key influencers, who have huge social networks, have the opportunity to sway potential customers’ decisions to buy or not to buy from a brand. This is a fantastic avenue that you must explore further to see how this could work for your brand. Read this article to discover more.

 

So if you are a channel marketer, there really is an easier way – but it does take time and effort. Try these tips, and discover an easier way to encourage your resellers, distributors and other partners – and maybe even your employees – to share your content, and reach a wider audience. It will all be worth it in the end.

27 May – A sneak peek into how F5 launched their employee advocacy program and are now making social selling rock stars

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‘Employee advocacy’ is one of those topics currently receiving a lot of attention in the social media world. But are you a bit unsure as to how this could benefit you? Let us discover together how F5 have so successfully achieved this.

 

Since 1996, F5 networks has assisted organisations in deploying cloud, data centre and software- defined networking, to improve the security of their applications. They have a global presence, with employees operating from around the world. And have alliances with brands such as Microsoft and HP.

 

Here is a sneak preview as to what you will learn in this webinar with F5 Networks:

 

First, what is employee advocacy? Simply put, it’s the promotion of a brand through its employees. When done correctly, these key influencers, who have huge social networks, have the opportunity to sway potential customers’ decision to buy or not to buy from a brand.

 

Sounds like a good plan, yes?

Sadly, involving advocates can be a challenge for brands, especially for global brands that are present around the world, with different business units, sales territories, supported languages and hundreds if not thousands of ‘individual’ sales staff.  Making it happen is not easy, or so it seems.

 

Employees need guidance and content

The tough part is that employees require a bit of assistance to truly make your advocacy program work. They need training, best practices and, more importantly, content they can share that works for them and their contacts. YOU NEED TO provide them with all of this plus lots of personalised/ relevant–to-each-audience content to share on social media.

 

Compliant, consistent, relevant and regular brand messages

If your aim is to get people talking about your brand, then you need to make sure others (your employees, but it could also include your channel partners) share YOUR content and do this regularly. Social media is perfect for this! The good news is that by providing your employees with a constant flow of pertinent (to their audience) news, you will be able to maintain a high level of compliancy and consistency of your messages, wherever the words get out.

 

How to do it, in a systematic manner?

socialondemand® makes this possible for F5, helping them amplify and provide a consistent brand message, through their global teams of hundreds of sales employees and to the hundreds of thousands of contacts they have on social media.

 

What F5 have achieved

The socialondemand-enabled employee advocacy program has allowed F5 to reach a much wider market of 25 different countries, with content being created in 5 different languages. F5 can now engage with millions of Twitter followers, Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts. So far, their 430 social media posts have been shared over 4,000 times and have generated over 18,860 clicks. What is even more impressive, is this is only from 167 employees. Want to know more? watch this free webinar.

04 March – Microsoft’s channel social media algorithm- sshh it’s a secret.

Social media can be a real challenge at times, especially when your organisation sells through a complex network of channel partners. Relying on partners to promote your products and services to end-users can be a headache. Not only do they have you on their backs but they also have your competitors.

purechannelapps™ spoke with Microsoft (Alex Beere, Social Media Manager) and Microsoft’s channel partner (Anna Nicholls, Axon-IT) to reveal how they have overcome this.

Microsoft blog

The issue
Recent studies show that IT buyers are spending up to two-thirds of their buying decision online or on social media. Essentially by the time they speak to a supplier or one of their partners, their decision has already been made! So if your channel partners are not posting your content, and influencing their customers or prospects, you have little chance in becoming recognised as a thought leader and being considered as a viable option.

60% of Microsoft’s partners admit they lack content to share and a further 80% confirm they do not have the time to get involved with social media; this highlights the full scale of the issue.

Microsoft partner lack

Microsoft’s secret
Microsoft use a social media amplification platform called socialondemand® to reach a much wider audience. It includes the followers and friends of their own employees and partners as well as other brand advocates.

Microsoft share their content onto the platform, and users are then able to edit, schedule and ultimately publish this content onto their own social networks in just a couple of clicks. Easy! As Alex Beere confirmed socialondemand has two major advantages: it enables Microsoft to amplify its brand messages to new audiences and it also enables partners to be socially active, and closely engaged with Microsoft.

Recent results from using the platform
1,094 posts have been created to date by Microsoft. Partners have published these 71,840 times and these reposts have generated 299,600 clicks and 5,873 retweets/ likes. This would never have been possible before so partners see this platform as a major advantage for both them and Microsoft.

In fact, 87% of partners feel that this has added real value to their business.

Microsoft's key stats

Microsoft’s social media strategy for socialondemand:
•Provide thought leadership content to partners
•Post content at least 8 times a day
•Post content at the weekend as this shows great returns (# of clicks)
•Expire posts sent to partners that are older than two weeks to keep content up to date
•Encourage their partners to use the lead generation feature on socialondemand to track engagement levels and make follow ups.

Anna Nicholls from Axon-IT, a Microsoft partner, confirmed that finding the time to source and produce then post content was a huge issue they previously faced. With only a small team, one post a day was hard enough. Their social media presence was very limited, with minimal reposts. But by using MicrosoftSocialOnDemand, this has dramatically changed. With Microsoft’s recognised brand on their posts, their online presence has dramatically increased. And with leads being generated on Twitter and LinkedIn, it has been a win, win situation.


The trick here is to make it incredibly easy for channel partners to repost your content. socialondemand is the answer. The professionals are using it, so why don’t you?

Click here to watch the full webinar.

25 June – Can FMCG and retail brands learn from IT companies and their social media strategy?

 

Often the retail or FMCG industries are seen as the pioneers of the marketing world. After all, it is generally accepted that the roots of direct marketing lie in the mail order and catalogue businesses of the early 80s, trying to find new, more effective ways of getting consumers to spend more of their disposable income on their products.

 

Direct marketing is all well and good, but it’s the IT industry which has innovated faster and further than arguably any other industry in the history of the world. With computing power evolving at a rate which is astonishing in its own right, its unsurprising that this industry is at the cutting edge of marketing technology.

 

Old problems new solutions

 

Having painted a picture of a fast-moving, innovative industry I am going to juxtapose that with this; the IT industry has had largely the same distribution model since computers and computing technology were first seen as commercial commodities. The model involved large networks of ‘channel partners’, selling products and services via a diversity of sales partners, resellers, PC dealers and distributors.

 

What’s interesting is that the internet, email and social media have all added new ways to market to customers, but the model hasn’t changed. The same problems exist now, as they did in the past; brands find it difficult to reach their customers because these are not directly engaged with the brands but with the brands’ partners. And these partners, who work with tens of suppliers, haven’t the time or resources to market the brands’ products and services effectively.

 

That’s where channel marketing comes into play; helping your partners and yourself by marketing your products through them. In the past, this was a time-consuming, expensive and a hard-to-measure exercise. With often thousands of small, partners often only the larger, more important partners got any assistance. This is obviously inefficient.

 

Whilst the internet, email and social media haven’t necessarily changed the sales model, what they have done is successively changed the ease with which channel partner marketing can happen, especially on social media.

 

How Retail / FMCG brands aren’t that dissimilar to IT companies

 

I want you to re-read my last section and replace the word “partner” with “retailer”. Suddenly, it becomes the retail and FMCG model; the brand at the top making the product, selling (often) indirectly through retailers (often hundreds or thousands of them).

 

Brands need to find a way to get to the customer, and find a way despite not selling directly to them.

 

They often run promotional campaigns with their retailers either in-store or via co-branded marketing campaigns, because their retailers are time-poor and lacking in resources to mount a sustained marketing campaign. Because of the complexity and expensive nature of these marketing campaigns, brands only focus on the larger retailers, leaving the majority of their retailer network out in the cold when it comes to marketing.

 

What do IT companies do and what can Retail / FMCG brands do?

 

A concept which I have worked on for the past 4 years has revolved around content syndication on social media, effectively allowing IT brands to amplify their content far further than they would otherwise be able to do.

 

The process sounds simple (and it is), but it’s incredibly effective at getting your content read by your customers, and it has many downstream benefits too. IT brands create and target content based on a range of filters and targets, so that the right content gets to the right partner. The partner than takes this content and posts it through the platform (and in less than 3 clicks from the email) to their social media profiles. There’s then a large analytics engine which gathers every interaction, every like, retweet and share.

 

Marketing on social media becomes consistent and because of its regularity and reach, become more effective. Partners are socially-enabled, feel confident on social media, and start to build up a presence in their own right.

 

As more content is seen and consumed by more people, more opportunities are created to sell.

 

The same can be true for retail and FMCG brands. In fact, we have recently released a case study on our customer, and FMCG brand, Mountain Hardwear, where we detailed precisely how social media syndication and amplifying content changed consumer behaviour, driving more sales for retailers and Mountain Hardwear alike.

 

Conclusion

 

My conclusion therefore, is that retail and FMCG brands can learn from IT companies in their approach to social media. How to make it work more effectively, how to get the best out of their marketing efforts, and how to use their retail network to positively affect consumer behaviour to drive sales.

 

If you want to find out more about how socialondemand and newsondemand could help your FMCG or retail brand, or even if you’re an IT company that wants to make the most of their partner network, please email me now.

 

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.

13 January – Social media and the enterprise: compliance mistakes

13th January 2014

 

Olivier Choron | CEO and Founder purechannelapps™

 

It may not surprise you to find out that I read an awful lot of news relating to social media. Yet I can’t think of a week that goes by without seeing some sort of corporate social media faux pas. At the very least, these mistakes cause embarrassment, but at worst, they may have a devastating impact on your brand and reputation.

 

Many of these mistakes are caused by overlooking possibly the most important element of social media; compliance. So here are my thoughts on the best way to control the compliance of your social media voice, in the hope that you won’t fall foul of the same problems.

 

1)      Make sure you have a dynamic approval chain and clear social media guidelines

 

A big problem for companies is that social media gets signed off in the same way as ‘traditional’ marketing, with long approval times, long delays and lead times. This completely misses the point of social media, which is meant to be quick, dynamic, and reactive. Of course by going completely the other way and delegating all control to social media teams can create other issues too. What is needed is a middle ground where social media content can be created quickly, approved quickly and posted quickly. The best companies at social media are the ones with a dynamic approval process which prioritises social media with approval times of minutes, and social media teams who have clear guidelines and ongoing training on what they can and can’t say.

 

2)      Understand how your brand is perceived by the wider audience

 

Companies who make mistakes on social media are those who confuse how they perceive their brand with how the wider audience perceives their brand. There have been numerous examples of where this has happened, mainly in industries where trust between consumers and companies is low. Take nothing for granted and listen to what people are saying.

 

3)      Always do a sense check on trends or hashtags before posting them

 

Never forget to sense check trends or hashtags before posting. This includes checking that the trend you’re commenting on is related to your company, or is appropriate. Care must also be taken to ensure that the hashtag is correctly spelt, and doesn’t contain anything unintentionally inappropriate within its content when formatted as a hashtag. Take Susan Boyle’s new album party ‘#susanalbumparty’ as an example.

 

4)      Make sure any hyperlinks within messages go to the right page

 

Nothing kills off a well-designed, well thought-out and considered promotional campaign through your Twitter feed quicker than a hyperlink which leads to the wrong page. This is not only bad for your immediate campaign, but potentially bad for any future campaigns.

 

5)      Be careful when you link to content hosted on third-party sites

 

Linking to third party content can be vitally important, either for sharing news, opinions or offers involving multiple parties. It can however also be a huge compliance risk for a whole host of reasons; you don’t control the content you’re linking to, and therefore the content you’re linking to might change, be altered or removed. Additionally, whilst the content you’re linking to maybe compliant, other content on the hosting site may not be, and could create a damaging association with your brand.

 

6)      When trying to create an association between your brand or products and something in the news, make sure it is appropriate

 

 

An age-old PR trick is to take a story in the news, and associate it with your brand, to create some inexpensive and quick interest, or buzz. Of course, this can back-fire if you choose the wrong news story, or a story that has no association with your products. Famously, a number of big brands in America tried to use Hurricane Sandy as a way of selling their goods. Needless to say, this was not a wise move causing, much reputational damage.

 

7)      Finally and you might laugh at this; but, check your spelling!

 

“It dont look grate if lotsofmiss-takes apear.”

 

Compliance is something which we at purechannelapps™ take very seriously and understand that it is paramount in the dynamic and fast-paced world of social media. In fact, when I first designed our platform socialondemand®, I made it crystal clear that the system must enable enterprise customers to ensure their message is totally compliant, with multi-level content creation and approval workflow built in. So with  socialondemand you can be sure that the message you are broadcasting through your partners is the right one.

 

Olivier Choron 

 

Over the last twenty years, Olivier has become an expert in the development and implementation of channel programmes in the high technology sector.

 

Olivier spent his early days developing industry-first SMB initiatives in EMEA and globally with IT players such as 3Com and Nortel Networks, at a time when all vendors focused solely on enterprise markets. He subsequently moved to the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) industry with Allegis Corp/ClickCommerce – the major force at the time – where he was responsible for key accounts including Microsoft Europe, GE Finance, Subway and BT Ignite.

In 2003, Olivier set up purechannels, which now operates as a full channel marketing agency across Europe. Current customers include Adobe, Avnet, Citrix, Jabra, Symantec and Trend Micro, among others. Olivier founded purechannelapps in 2011.