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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

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

“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.