Social media sites and applications cheat sheet

This cheat sheet has SearchITChannel.com's top 10 picks for news and blogs on social media sites and applications. See why VARs and vendors alike have jumped on the social networking bandwagon.

Check out SearchITChannel.com's top 10 picks for news and blogs on social media sites and applications that should have the most value for you. In a down economy, finding free ways to gain exposure is difficult.

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Social media in plain English

Solutions providers can use social networking sites to market and promote their businesses and services, to solicit input from peers and even prospect and recruit new employees.

This cheat sheet has a variety of resources, including expert interviews and podcasts that can teach you about the advantages of using social networking sites and applications to further expand your business.

1. Mainsoft opens SharePoint blogs, wikis, My Sites to IBM developers
Mainsoft has come up with new software that joins competing IBM and Microsoft development worlds while taking advantage of SharePoint's social networking perks. Mainsoft 2.0 for SharePoint and IBM's Rational Team Concert lets developers use the blogs and wikis in SharePoint's My Site portal to share team development artifacts. Developers can also incorporate SharePoint's Personal Profiles into analogous user profiles in IBM Rational Jazz.

2. IBM to business partners: Why don't you mingle a little?
Channel Marker blogger Heather Clancy has noticed no hesitation from VARs about jumping into social media sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo. And the biggest high-tech vendors are also jumping into online social forums. IBM launched its PartnerWorld Communities -- a social network in which IBM business partners can gain access to IBM experts in order to develop leads or follow up on client requests.

3. Do social networking sites deliver ROI for channel partners?
The previous blurb notwithstanding, not everyone has jumped on the social networking bandwagon. But current social media users can't seem to stop singing praises over the many advantages of social media sites. Users claim that they are able to reach more small business partners and customers than before, and the return on investment for using social media sites and Web 2.0 is nothing to complain about either.

4. VARs tweet, meet up to drive business
VARs find that sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are not only new channels of communication, but also powerful marketing tools. With the economy struggling, VARs use social media to win exposure for their business and advertise their services. The only problem is that social network sites are also vulnerable to purveyors of malware.

5. Channel Chat: Using social media to reach customers
The power of Twitter is evident in the highly publicized battle between Ashton Kutcher and CNN. But what is the best way to use Twitter for your business? In this podcast, you'll learn how Twitter can increase customer trust and how using social media can market your company's brand and vision. You'll also find out how to "tweet" properly so that you can attract the biggest audience to your Twitter profile.

6. IBM helps SOA partners with SEO and social net tools
IBM is using social networking tools to help partners become more self-sufficient and profitable in a tough economy. The company stresses the importance of using social sites, including Facebook and LinkedIn, through live social media training sessions in New York, London, San Francisco and other locations. IBM trainers are showing partners how to optimize their businesses through their Facebook pages, and the company is hosting an online business catalog.

7. The silence of the tweets
If Twitter is a business application, then it's time it acted like one, according to Channel Marker blogger Barbara Darrow. This blog post came after two consecutive weeks of Twitter outages and lots of complaints from Twitter users. Darrow also notes that Twitter might want to consider charging for interruption-free service if businesses are going to rely on it for marketing exposure.

8. Web 2.0 sites help IT solution providers make sales
Companies are setting up internal blogs, wikis and social networking sites to promote communication and collaboration among employees, but it's the use of public Web 2.0 sites that holds even more promise for solution providers. And there's no right way to embrace Web 2.0. Spending a few minutes a day updating Twitter can have just as much value as hours spent writing blogs.

9. Partner News Podcast: Dell partner outreach uses social media
Dell sees benefits in using more than one social networking tool to reach partners. The Dell Channel Blog is used by current and prospective partners to learn more about the Dell PartnerDirect program and to interact with executives. The company also uses Twitter and is considering Facebook for building trust with its partners.

10. Partner complaints hit Dell channel wiki
With PartnerStorm, the channel version of Dell's popular IdeaStorm forum, users can post their ideas about the channel program, which is called PartnerDirect. PartnerStorm is the latest social media initiative from Dell's channel program. Although these social media sites allow Dell's problems to be publicized, they also allow Dell to address issues and complaints as soon as they arise.

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