The Increasing Relevance of Social Media in the IT Channel

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Over the past 2 years we’ve held a number of Marketing Advisory Councils (MACs) with our top channel partners to help us evolve and steer our channel marketing programs.  One topic we’ve regularly brought to the table is that of social media.  I think it’s fair to say that in our first MAC there was considerable scepticism about the relevance of social media in the channel.  The widely held belief was that Facebook was for kids and consumers, LinkedIn was primarily for job hunters and Twitter was for people with too much time on their hands.  Social media and B2B simply didn’t seem to fit together.

Fast forward two years and everything seems to have changed.  Everyone gets it, everyone sees the relevance.  In fact a lot of partners were telling us that many of their sales people were using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on a daily basis.  CXOs are regular Tweeters, commenting on industry news, following developments at key vendors and competitors, and of course providing updates on their own organizations.  And of course the sales guys are all following their CXOs. 

At Dell we are big proponents of social media and although the IT channel has been a little slow on the uptake we always thought the time would come.  But I guess it’s also fair to say the tipping point came and went somewhat quicker than we might have dreamed!

So now we’re going into overdrive.  We already had the PartnerDirect LinkedIn group for Preferred and Premier Partners open (with over 650 members to date) and we’ve just launched a sub-group specifically for the channel marketing community.  We’ll use this group to continue to solicit valuable input and feedback from channel marketeers and vendor managers in between the face to face MAC sessions.  We’ve also launched a similar group for partners on Xing in Germany.

Next up is Twitter (@DellChannelEN).  Don’t worry we won’t be using it to update you on what we had for breakfast.  The target audience is twofold.  On the one hand we’ll be encouraging resellers to follow us and hear about the latest program updates, product launches, marketing campaigns, tools and resources.  But the power of Twitter, of course, is that we can reach a much wider audience.  So we also plan to use Twitter to promote our partners’ capabilities to potential end customers.  We will tweet each time we release a new case study involving a partner and we’ll also encourage partners to tell us about any forthcoming events and training sessions they are planning to run so that we can help to promote them.

Suffice to say you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from the PartnerDirect team via various social networks from here on in!

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