We are conducting a project to empower partners to participate in social media. The funding is done through MDF. The details are here:
Social media is a place where customers hang out and converse over products, best practices, service tips and more. The purpose to get partners involved in those conversations is a) to intensify or win back customer relationships and b) connect with new potential customers who are discussing and dealing with the same topics.
The benefit to the dealers and reseller to engage is an obvious business benefit in increasing sales and gaining back market share.
A) Channel partners have neither a good plan, nor the resources nor the education to launch such a social media engagement. It is not so much an investment in tools or equipment but in knowledge and time. More so channel partners don’t have the content they want like attractive video clips, white papers, ongoing new blog posts and more.
B) Channel partners are scared to death to expose any customer data. So what we needed to do is build a technology that allows partners to have a private customer community (with no access for vendors, unless wanted) but still provide vendors with relevant meta data to see that the communities are actually active and growing.
Vendors “sponsor” the partners social media engagement including three components:
a) The base education for the partners
b) Some vendor side resource allocation to feed content to the partners
c) An online community system that allows the partner to build their own social community, which in turn is connected to the vendors who feed content straight into all the connected partner communities (in our case 3,500 connected partner communities)
The whole project is funded through MDF – and it cost less than the typical but less effective local marketing events. The initial funds allocation is $800 per partner for training, a few dollars for the online community and more but only if successful for community engagement (see below)
Reporting and justification
The MDF funds per partner grow with the activities and engagement in the communities. In other words if a partner does not engage with their market – no more money. If the partner engages and their community grows – additional money. If a partner is REALLY active constantly grows the ecosystem and develops a vibrant community – even more MDF cash. The reporting system provides activity level that in turn controls the MDF flow.
So at the end of the day – social media and its transparency provides an even deeper insight into the effectiveness of the partner activities. Probably a bid hard to explain in words but once you see it you will get the idea.
It is a multi million dollar project but simply because the channel is a global channel. Cost is less than 0.5% of the revenue through the channel.
However the concept is scalable and will work with channels as small as 100 partners for around $25,000 to start with.