How Thought Leadership Can Help Customers Believe Your Marketing

If you’re a major IT brand, you may be tempted to conclude that if internet has replaced traditional media, then the solution is simply to move your advertising online. But an effective marketing strategy online demands that you diversify your strategies, notably by producing and sharing thought leadership content that looks fundamentally different than traditional advertising, both through digital marketing and social media platforms.

Just as important as producing quality content, however, is getting your partners to share it. Simply put, while vendor-led thought leadership can be useful, the same content shared by partners tends to elicit an even better response from buyers.

The Social Opportunity

Senior IT decision makers clearly view social networks as an opportunity to connect with vendors and resellers. A recent study by LinkedIn found that two-thirds tech decision makers say they are open to connecting with a new vendor on social media, while three-quarters say they are up for having a conversation with one.

The Social Bridge to the IT Committee
Source: Linkedin “The Social Bridge to the IT Committee”, Q3 2013

However, social media doesn’t pay off very well if you’re not using it tactfully. The same study shows that many buyers found vendor content on the platform to be self-serving and uninformative. Indeed, the top reason B2B buyers do not connect with vendors on LinkedIn is that they don’t want to be overwhelmed with marketing materials.

The Social Bridge to the IT Committee
Source: Linkedin “The Social Bridge to the IT Committee”, Q3 2013

Who Do They Believe?

But good content is only part of the equation. Just as important is who it’s coming from. That’s where your partners come in.

In a world in which buyers are looking for guidance from peers, partners are a vendor’s greatest marketing asset. Because resellers have credibility as experts and close relationships with buyers, the tech-oriented content they share on social media is more likely to command the buyers’ attention.

Indeed, in a recent test of a new social plug-in provided by OneAffiniti that allows partners to share content via posts to their LinkedIn page, we found that buyers are nearly four times as likely to engage with content posted by the reseller than the same content posted by a vendor.


Getting Partners to Engage With Buyers

Your channel partners represent the most powerful marketing tool at your disposal. Their experience and expertise in technology puts them in a position of trust with IT decision makers. Social media therefore represents a major opportunity for partners to engage with buyers on behalf of vendors.

Marketing thought leadership content at scale, however, is a major challenge if you are relying the partners to post articles themselves. The key to getting the greatest reach while reducing the workload on partners is to engage with a solution provider such as OneAffiniti, which can automate the process, freeing up time-strapped and under-resourced partners to be content “moderators,” rather than content creators. Partners are thus able to share content that can serve as a point of conversation and trust-building with buyers, much in the same way that everyday people bond over discussions of articles that their friends and family share via email or social media.

If you use the internet to shout slogans at buyers, they’ll tune you out. But if instead, you use it to facilitate conversations between buyers and the people they trust, they’ll not only listen, but they’ll likely believe what they hear.

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