social media The relationship between social media and channel marketing for the B2B marketplace is evolving. Just three or four years ago, social media would not even have been considered a viable marketing channel by most companies in terms of their relationship with their channel partners. But today it cannot be ignored.

Putting market hype aside, one reason that social media has become relevant to the channel, is that it helps build up trust and increases the value of a given brand.

When people learn something about a product or service through their preferred social media outlet, it feels like it’s coming from a ‘friend.’ That has a much more powerful emotional impact than a traditional advertisement. Beyond that, people target and limit what they see in their social media world, so someone seeing the message you and your channel partner have created is much more likely to be interested than someone who stumbles upon your site through traditional marketing efforts.

The question, however, is how to make social media as effective as possible when it comes to your B2B channel marketing efforts. The first step is to decide which social media platforms to use.

In general, if you are promoting trade shows, joint events, or want to communicate new marketing efforts, you should be using LinkedIn. Your messages will come off as very professional, and will be targeting decision makers in the industry you and your channel partners are targeting.

On the other hand, if you are trying to create viral buzz, promote a webcast, let people know about an event or jump-start a marketing campaign, you should probably be using Twitter. The way Twitter is constructed allows your message to be passed on quickly by interested parties, and is searchable.

When doing social media marketing for you and your channel partner, the most effective way to get people to pay attention to it is to create multimedia content. Whether they are videos, webinars or podcasts, having something that is interactive and not a ‘dry’ marketing message is likely to create much more buzz and have more influence on decision makers.

Now, the second step is to ensure that there is consistency between you and your channel partners. You both need to be working to spread the same message in similar ways. One way to do this is to create guidelines for your social media efforts, and then present them to your co-marketer. They can then use the guidelines you have provided to make sure both of you stay ‘on message’ and don’t provide conflicting or confusing messages to potential prospects in your industry.

Another approach is to use a social media syndication solution to deliver a library of valuable content that your channel partners can use when talking with their online communities. This lets channel partners easily push content to multiple social media sites. The end result is that channel partners are provided an environment to supplement their own social contributions with those provided by their suppliers.

Social media is about fostering communities; so helping to enable your channel partners to become influential voices around your solution areas can pay significant dividends.