• Social IT Marketing and the Channel

    As more and more tech buyers turn to social networks to share and research information on IT products and services it’s having a significant impact on the technology distribution models born out of the 1980’s and 90’s. The typical way tech brands reached IT buyers was to recruit distributors and VARS and then hope they could sell products to as many customers as possible. In fact, manufacturers had no direct marketing initiatives of their own in place, relying solely on partners for marketing and sales.

    The channel is obviously still an important part of the go to market strategy for IT vendors. However, with the rising influence of social networks on the technology research and buying process the linear, command and control mentality is gone forever.

    Without the ability to participate in social discussions about their products and services vendors are taking a big gamble thinking the ”channel” will simply do the selling for them.

    A great example of this shift can be seen among 1.7 Million IT professionals in the Spiceworks social network. They constantly tell me, “We want to engage with the technology vendors on our terms and turf. We will happily purchase products, services and solutions from resellers but it’s nice to ask the vendor a direct question every now and then.

    If you are a vendor or reseller looking for ways to ensure your properly engaging IT buyers in social networks to complement and support your existing channel sales , here are some simple steps you can take:

    • Have a real, ongoing presence in the social networks where your customers and potential customers hang out and do their job.
    • When engaging customers in social networks be authentic and helpful.
    • Engage customers and potential buyers on their terms whether that’s providing a whitepaper or answer a question in a forum.

    For the channel relationship to prosper in today’s shifting social media landscape, both technology vendors and their resellers have important roles to play. Both can participate in the customer – driven conversation, which will help ensure their meeting customer’s needs in the new social buying process.

    Kenny Madden works in market development at Austin based Spiceworks, the fastest growing IT social business network. By combining free IT management software with a Facebook-like community, Spiceworks helps over 1.6 million IT professionals to discover, buy and manage $260 billion worth of technology products and services each year.  Kenny can be reached at kenny@spiceworks.com.

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