Today’s marketing session—How Social Media adds Value to B2B Marketing—is one that I looked forward to. Curating great answers and cases from Microsoft partners who are seeing business success through word-of-mouth engagement is far more valuable for partners, I think, than if I presented a bunch of slides on strategy and tactics.

 
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Participants in the session were:
  • Liza Sisler, National Sales and Marketing Director, Perficient – @lizasisler
  • Dr. Petri I. Salonen, Chief Executive Officer at TELLUS International – @DrSalonen
  • Dux Raymond Sy, Managing Director, Innovative-e – @meetdux
  • Tiffany Ingargiola, Business Development Manager, New Horizons – @TiffanyWI
One thing I’ve learned is that the word ‘expert’, when used in the same sentence as ‘social media’, creates an oxymoron. In this space, there are no experts—there are practitioners. As a practitioner there is experimentation, gleaning key lessons, commitment, and the willingness to work at it. This is exactly how I am approaching social media with our community of Microsoft partners, and certainly how partners need to approach it with their customers. Ultimately, my goal is to facilitate engagement through storytelling—whether it’s a Microsoft partner sharing a case study, or a Microsoft brand ambassador talking about the potential of Microsoft solutions for improving the way people do things.
 
Is social media right for all Microsoft partners? No. It’s right for the partner who thinks it is right for their business strategy. Social media as part of the marketing mix is one of the most ‘personal’ modes of marketing you can invest in. But with the right investment you can see great results for your business, your company, and even your personal brand. The value of social media is directly correlated to the insight you have into your audience and what you can provide of value to them.
 
The takeaway that I got from the great group that presented today is:
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Listening allows you to understand what your customer thinks, and provides you with insights on how to engage, and even on how to improve your solution set. If time is limited, invest in one tactic and do it well. Be consistent—do it regularly and be disciplined even when it appears that you’re not seeing results. Engage by being relevant to your customers, transact with their currency: If they want information, give them information. Or if they would like stories, then share stories. At the end of the cycle, measure what is resonating and optimize your plan.
 
Finally, remember that social media allows for a communication loop; let your community share their stories with you. Ask them to give you feedback. Allow them to co-create the experience.
 
And one last piece of wisdom that I took away from the group was this: Learn from others, and be teachable. I learned quite a bit from the group today.
 
I invite you to leave your commitment in the Comments below. If you decide that engaging in social media to connect with customers is right for you, what is the one thing you plan to commit to?
 
Here are some additional resources:
 
Dr. Petri I. Salonen:
Dux Raymond Sy: