Social media hype is everywhere. We are deluged with it on-line. We see it on TV. Our kids are absorbed by Facebook. The State department even requests that Twitter delays maintenance to ensure continuity in the information flow from civil unrest in Iran. Even as we are coming to grips with Social media – socially, we are becoming aware of how this new media is infiltrating all aspects of human interaction. As the Iran elections show and indeed in President Obama’s campaign would indicate, social media has become a political media. Businesses are now adopting these forums to manage and monitor customer relationships. As a business that focuses on collaborative B2B relationships, PhoenixCG conducted an informal study by interviewing 20 partner management professionals to understand how partner managers are leveraging Web2.0 and social media in building partner relationships.We wanted to get beyond the basics of what’s a tweet and how often do you tweet? We wanted to understand how partner organizations were deriving business value from the use of social media. Most of the individuals we spoke to were in the technology sector. Though we did speak to two who were not – a control group if you will. These two were in the pharma sector. What did we learn? While there is huge momentum and adoption, as a business tool, we still don’t know all the ways in which social media can be used. There are few proven practices on how to optimize and measure impact especially in enhancing business relationships. Yet many of those we interviewed are using these new tools for productive use if not clearly measurable use. It is fair to say that we are still in the early adoption phase, where the first entrants are engaged in a process of invention and creation in developing applications for these media. Only one of the respondents had developed a social media strategy and metrics for optimization and they had not yet deployed. The others, even those who characterized themselves as leading edge users, were at various stages of trying formalize their use of social media, making the transformation from experimental to strategic use.Since a single blog is not going to cover the ah-has of twenty interviews, we will be posting our findings, observations, and recommendations in a series of blogs.

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