Social media marketing tips for VARs

The advent of email and electronic communication changed the way both B2B and B2C businesses marketed. Overtime, direct mail postcards and cold calling became a practice of the past while sending out mass emails and invitations to webinars was the new “it” way to reach your target audience. Today these methods seem passé and are often ignored. While email marketing still has its place and can be effective if done properly, marketing methods have evolved along with technology. Today, marketers can reach a more targeted audience through social media. But how can VARs who often have limited marketing resources make the most out of these new platforms? The key is to understanding the type of audience that each attracts and creating content that appeals to these audiences.

Possibly the most ‘professional’ of all the social media sites, LinkedIn offers VARs some unique ways to reach your target audience. One way would be to start a professional group within LinkedIn that encourages members to initiate discussions and post news about that particular topic. For example, there is a marketing professionals group on LinkedIn where members share ideas about new marketing techniques, share stories and even pose questions about their own ideas and ask for opinions or suggestions for improvement. Creating this type of group would position your company as an expert in your area. If a group already exists which is a good match for your company; join the group and become an active member. Have a designated person start discussions and respond to others. It will only help elevate your company’s profile.

Many business people view Facebook as the toy of the social media world. However, even business to business organizations like VARs can use Facebook as a marketing tool. Facebook is widely popular so why not use a tool that people are already using?

One way is to start a “fan page” that Facebook members can “like”. Then post links to industry news, post company news and events and again start conversations about topics you customers would find interesting. This keeps your company connected to your customers, potential customers and industry enthusiasts. Your company can also “like” the fan pages of the vendors you work with so your information is linked to theirs, increasing your exposure.

A second way to use Facebook is to create highly targeted pay-per-click ads. These ads work much like Google AdWords but instead of targeting keyword search terms they target a person’s profile information. So if you sell network infrastructure technology you can have your ad shown only to people who have IT in their job description. If you only operate in a certain area you can add qualifiers to better target your demographic using information supplied by the potential customer. Ads are relatively inexpensive and can run as long or a short a period as you desire. You can use Facebook to drive registration for an upcoming event or advertise a new product that you now offer.

Many businesses have a difficult time finding the appropriate way to use Twitter. The character limitations along with its social nature lead some to believe the tool is better left to celebrities and teenagers. Once again, with a proper strategy Twitter can be successfully used for marketing and PR campaigns. The key is to use key terms people are following or trending terms.

For example, if your company is attending a tradeshow, tweeting about what is going on at your booth and using a hash-tag (#) along with the name of the conference will alert people looking for information about the conference you are there.

As your company’s account gains followers you can post links to new blog posts, promotions, news stories and so on. As long as your twitter feed doesn’t become overly promotional people will continue to follow you.

At one point 75% of all searches on Google brought back video results from YouTube. These videos are often entertaining but they can also be informative. Posting short videos about your company’s services or products they offer can be a great way to get to the top of the search pile for a particular term. Also, you can link to these videos in marketing materials and embed them in your website create a more interactive experience for those looking for information about your company.

One caution: many companies salivate at the idea of creating a viral video and hold focus group and brainstorming sessions to come up with the corporate version of “squirrel on a skateboard” video. This is against the nature of viral videos, they tend to be spontaneous, entertaining or even gag inducing. If you are trying to make a viral video that is really an advertisement ask yourself if this is something you would normally forward to your friends.

With a little creativity, patience and thought any VAR can use these tools to help improve their marketing and increase their organization’s visibility.


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About the Author: Shannon Lewis

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