Social media has truly broken down communication barriers to offer a liquidity of information exchange unlike any other medium, but how can this often unruly medium be harnessed by resellers and vendors to its best advantage?

If your organization uses a tiered route to market – be it via franchisees, dealers, distributors or channel partners, one major challenge you undoubtedly face is how to effectively reach and influence your end users with relevant social media messaging.

The initial hype around social media has resulted in many vendors taking a scatter gun approach to social media, akin to the direct mail antics we were mostly all guilty of in the 80s and into the 90s.  Now is the time to rein in the mishmash of content being published to all and sundry and to take a more targeted approach with content of relevance and value… but how?

Here are six guiding principles to help you add finesse and effectiveness to your social media strategy by leveraging the presence of your channel partners:

1: Use age-old pyramid methodology
Many sectors deploy a channel route to market: automotive, IT, retail, estate agents to name but a few.  Invariably, there’s a big player at the top of the chain in such channel models, and each wants to ultimately get its messaging out to end-users at the bottom.  By giving your channels relevant social media content to publish on your behalf, you can propagate your messaging and proliferate its delivery via multiple sources.

2: Segment your audience
Vendors often lack a way to segment its content and target it to the right audience. To guarantee success, vendors should follow one simple rule: get the right content to the right people at the right time.  We’ve all been doing for years – segmenting our audience, and communicating with them using content that is as relevant as possible via direct marketing.  Why should social media be any different?  Social media needs to be approached just like any other marketing effort if it’s going to be worthwhile, through segmentation and relevant targeting.

3: Close the sales loop with your channels
The one thing a vendor often can’t do is offer a closed loop of call to action on its valuable marketing communications.  So here’s a thought.  I believe any interaction via social media should link to a centralized hub of information and interactivity – in other words a website that continues a buyer’s journey to its ultimate conclusion.  Your partners are familiar with incorporating your marketing messaging into more traditional marketing mediums such as direct marketing and events – why not publish your content via your channel who can offer ‘the next step’ interaction?

4: Deliver content of value
Since channel partners often don’t have the resources to generate social media content, they might just bite your arm off for a regular and relevant stream of content – be it news items, customer case studies, new solutions, whitepapers, etc., that’s pre-targeted to their audience.  For example, a security reseller in the SMB space wants to immediately get malware alerts out to its customer base– using new social media tools available, vendors can now automatically link to their channels social media sites, and publish content in real-time.  The result?  End users get highly valuable and timely messaging, from a trusted source.

5: Give your partners control
For the very same reason that you use a channel in the first place – to augment solutions and services – the same principle applies to social media content.  Yes, give your channels valuable content that is relevant to your audience, but give them the tools and control to augment that messaging with their own relevant spin.  This will give end-users more relevant content, and give your partners the kudos they deserve when interacting with the ultimate audience.

6: Educate your partners
I believe that channel partners are tomorrow’s social trusted advisers.  But many are only just starting out on the social media path, and have a long way to go before believing in the medium and using it to its full advantage.  For vendors, spending more time working with their partners and making it easy for partners to represent them in the social world will guarantee that their content goes further.  By enabling partners to become their ‘social trusted advisers’, vendors will ensure their partners have what they need to drive more social interactions and ultimately more business!