IBM Launches Social Media Training Initiative for Channel Partners

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

A new survey of channel partners by IBM shows that 45 percent are already using social media to help drive revenues, but 74 percent are unsure about the best way forward. So IBM has launched an initiative to help.

If you are looking for ways to generate revenue from social media, you aren’t alone. Forty-five percent of IBM business partners are experimenting with a social media business strategy to do just that, according to a new survey released today by IBM of 1,000 partners worldwide. However, 74 percent of those partners said they still were unsure of the best way to apply social media as an effective sales tool.

To help partners close that gap, IBM has launched a new skills initiative, according to Sandy Carter, vice president of IBM Software Group Business Partners. The initiative includes training sessions, a social media guide and social media guidelines.

For example, Carter says, it includes recommendations on what partners should do on social media versus what they should consider doing in another venue. It includes information on how to set a plan and stick to that plan.

IBM’s survey showed that partners’ number one concern about using social media was around privacy and security. The second concern was lack of time and the third was concern was about how to measure its effectiveness.

"One partner wrote about twitter that he’s found there’s no worthwhile business thing I can express in 140 characters," Carter tells Channel Insider.

The top social network tool leveraged by IBM partners was LinkedIn, with 80 percent saying it was their tool of choice. Second was YouTube, which partners were using to virally transmit information about their companies or educational material. Facebook was used by 68 percent of partners, and only 50 percent of partners relied on Twitter.

IBM partner, the Zobrist Consulting Group, which builds web sites for customers including retailers such as The North Face has also been experimenting with social media, initially to drive traffic to its own web site.

"We knew we needed to be on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, do email marketing campaigns, and webinars," Teresa Zobrist tells Channel Insider. "Those are the five components we created a strategy around."

The initiative began in March 2009 and each month Zobrist says the company saw an increase in web site traffic of between 100 percent and 150 percent. By the end of the year web site traffic had increased by 700 percent.  

IBM’s new initiative includes the following, according to the company:

  • training sessions and a social media guide available via the IBM PartnerWorld website;
  • a webcast and podcast series on Web 2.0 social media opportunities and successful strategy implementations;
  • a live session on "Leveraging Social Media for your Business" scheduled for partners at the October 2010 IBM Information On Demand Conference in Las Vegas, NV; and,
  • virtual and in-person workshops at the IBM Virtual Innovation Center and 40 IBM Innovation Centers worldwide on LotusLive, IBM's online collaboration and social networking services in the cloud.


Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com