Findings from a Survey Conducted by Phoenix Consulting GroupWe asked twenty partner managers What is social media?

By far the most common response was Good Question! After a thoughtful pause, we heard social media were tools that enabled users to communicate, to build loyalty, to collaborate and to listen. Its an opportunity to have communities of like minds and interests.

Its a way of on-line communication that allows expansion of personal and business network and sharing of information between people and groups. There is a general recognition that social media is still early in terms of adoption and application, and still changing.Even those who purport to be experts acknowledge that we dont know all the ways these new forums can be used.

While there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of social media sites on the worldwide web, the most widely discussed were the Big Four public forms of social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. LinkedIn was widely used by partner managers to recruit new partners and to preview the profiles of colleagues working within their partner’s organizations. LinkedIn Groups have spontaneously emerged around partner communities, for example, a Microsoft Partner Group, hosted and moderated independently of Microsoft. Members share insights and information regarding how to partner with Microsoft. Facebook was used most frequently in partner marketing activities. Fan pages are created around events where attendees both partners and customers can be friended to follow event coverage in real time. We also found that companies were maintaining facebook pages to build visibility and a personal brand for key company executives.Twitter was again most frequently used in partner marketing activities and to communicate to partners, a kind of micro-newsletter.

However, some companies are recognizing the value of twitter to monitor partner sentiments about their company and products. This in an opportunity proactively manage your online reputation among both partners and customers. YouTube was a public library for product demos and other company news and messaging. Videos were commonly linked to company Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles. Proprietary social networking platforms were also in evidence in managing partner ecosystems, these would often have many features of the public forums or integrated them into the platform. Other tools and platforms were also part of the on-line experience in partner collaboration including webconferencing such as WebEx and GotoMeeting as were wikis and blogs.

Collaborative platforms such as Sharepoint, WebEx Connect and Lotus were also in use and were the preferred technology for strategic alliances.One interesting aspect of these platforms is they were moving to integrate many collaboration tools into a single environment and even some of the social media functions.As earlier stated, we don’t know all the ways these technologies can be used. There are quite a few intrepid innovators using these media in creative ways. Our next blog will explore some of the benefits that these pioneers are experiencing. If you would like the full white paper on the study or to discuss the implications for your partner organization, please contact PhoenixCG at