Social media has forever changed the way we communicate, opening new channels and opportunities for those who seek to leverage it.

There are vendor managers, channel managers, marketing managers, and even product managers, who join and participate in social media groups. You’ll find them showing up in MSP-related groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks. You’ll find them active on Twitter. They are often seen answering partners’ questions posed in these groups. Some ask questions of the group, seeking insight into partner channel thinking. They announce upcoming events and other special news.

They also kid around. In the truest sense of the word, they become friends with their partners and others who will soon become their partners. They attract partners to their program simply by being there. Some partners feel they come to know these vendor managers through their interactions on social media.

Social Media as a Conduit of Communication

This is one of the most effective ways to use social media: as a conduit of communication between community members. This became even more pronounced during the time of isolation created by the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has long been there. As people have less and less time available to get on telephone or even video calls with each other, messaging to each other is the next best thing.

Many channel community leaders have seized the opportunity to create their own sub-communities to which other channel partners are attracted. This has helped propel some members of the channel community to positions of strong leadership.

Similar opportunities are available to vendor leaders if they are willing to get familiar with the medium and its tacit many rules.

Social media is a nurturing environment. There is no “hard sell” there. Participants don’t come to be sold, and they will quickly leave if they feel they are being taken advantage of. They want dialogue and discussion. Topics may be as diverse as “what’s the best platform for managing multi-cloud” to “what’s the best way to caramelize onions for onion soup?”

There’s also no rank in social media. When the CEO of one of the world’s most popular software platforms shows up, he is greeted much like anyone else. Any deference, or volume of responses, is driven by the fact that this leader helped so many people build their businesses and make their fortunes. What better reason to show appreciation and respect? When he falls ill he is treated to many good friends checking in on him to see how they can help. He’s a person to them, not a figurehead or a position.

How You Can Better Engage on Social Media

Channel chiefs and other C-Level executives have the same simple paths to the benefits of social media interaction as anyone else. You can go on to LinkedIn or Facebook or any other network you care to join and search for relevant groups. All you need to do is to click “Join” on those that interest you and you will either immediately be added or added after group administrators approve you.

An even faster path might be to ask your staff, your managers, or some of your partners to invite you to the groups they participate in. Most of these groups make it easy for members to invite new members.

Once you’ve joined, start visiting the group regularly to scroll through and see what people are saying. You’ll notice several things.

One is that some people are simply far more interesting than others.

Another is that some participate more frequently and more fully than others. These folks may be worth reaching out to directly using private messaging available on the site.

You’ll find that some conversation threads become lengthy as more and more people comment on the original post. Spend some time investigating these posts to figure out why they were so provocative. If you really want to bring value and obtain a response, bring these kinds of worthy discussions to the group. This is how to become a “thought-leader.”

Be realistic in your approach to all this. Social media isn’t the only means to communicate and connect with your community. Not everyone participates in social media. Leaders who are accessible and encourage community activity are usually those who are most respected, and most successful.