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Building Relationships With Tweets and Tags

By Shawn Cordner, Manager, Strategic Development, PAETEC

You have probably heard the term “Social Media” (SM) being thrown around a lot lately, and if Ashton Kutcher and Oprah are any indication, everyone is doing it and you should be too. The term refers to a number of platforms on the Web where people congregate, communicate and interact with each other, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Its wide acceptance by the mainstream begs the question, should your business be participating?

Like many other businesses, we in PAETEC’s agent channel saw an opportunity to communicate, build and reinforce relationships with our agents, prospective agents and customers. After all, that’s what SM is all about; connecting with people.

We knew the rise in SM popularity was an opportunity for us, but it took some time and creativity to figure out how it applied to our business in the channel. We focus on two platforms. The first is LinkedIn, where we manage a PAETEC Authorized Agents group and are active on the Q&A boards. The second is Twitter, where via a PAETEC Agents account and my personal account, we talk to people about PAETEC, the industry or about issues they may be having with us. These efforts have led to accounts being saved, new leads being distributed to agents and the recruitment of new agents.

You can have similar success. The question is how you, as an agent or master agent, can capitalize on the opportunity that SM presents. Here are some ideas:

  • Prospect for new leads – Search for people talking about technology, telecom or looking for expertise. Use Q&A boards or blog to lend your expertise. Use your network to meet decision makers in companies you want to do business with. Find people in your target verticals.
  • Communicate with your customers and agents – They likely are using SM for work or personal use but they are there and this is an opportunity to reinforce relationships and get your message out.
  • Recruit new subagents – Searching keywords like VoIP or PBX on Twitter, for example, will lead you to new prospects for your subagent network. Just be careful to genuinely contribute to the conversation, don’t just pitch them.
  • Hiring – A lot of recruiters are using LinkedIn and Twitter to find talent, and you can too.

Once you decide there is a fit, here are some things to think about before you jump in head first:

  • Have a strategy. Know your market and choose the medium or media most likely to reach your target audience. You don’t have to be on every platform, just the ones that make sense. Know why you are there and stay focused. Know who will be the face of the campaign, what the messaging will be and what the “voice” will sound like (be personal, not too corporate).
  • Have quantifiable goals. Just because a Facebook or Twitter account is free, doesn’t mean there is no cost. I mentioned before, SM is about building relationships with your market. This takes time. Time is money. Know that the time you spend is costing you. Define the metrics that will indicate success and a timeframe to achieve them, and then track them meticulously. Make adjustments along the way, but stay true to your strategy.
  • Be interactive. This is not the place to talk at your buyers. The culture of these communities is such that they will reject any blatant advertising or thinly veiled overtures to solicit their business. Start or join conversations where you can add value and connect on a personal level. If there is a mutually beneficial business relationship to be had, it will surface naturally. Think of it like networking at a live event; don’t be the person who is pushing business cards, be the person who is making real connections.

Overall, common sense and the fundamentals of traditional marketing prevail when it comes to SM. Once you have your strategy and are ready to execute it, take some time getting used to the nuances of the culture of your platforms of choice.

Good Luck!

Editor’s Note: PHONE+ Magazine, in conjunction with Channel Partners Conference & Expo, has created a LinkedIn group exclusively for the Channel. An online extension of the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, this group is dedicated to the indirect sales channel for communications products and services. Please join us on LinkedIn to become part of the network.

Shawn Cordner is manager of strategic development at PAETEC, where he does business development for the channel, including managing the carrier’s efforts in reaching the channel through social media.”

Looking for More? Check out “Sorting Through Social Media” at the Fall 2009 Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Sept. 23-25, in Miami. For more info, visit www.channelpartnersconference.com.


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