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In the new program, Unitrends will reward partners for promoting their partnerships on social media platforms, said Dante Gordon, senior director of channel marketing at Unitrends, based in Burlington, Mass. Unitrends will capture and assign value to a partner's social media output, which can include blog posts, tweets and podcasts.
The more a partner participates in social media marketing, the more opportunities it has to progress through the Unitrends partner program, Gordon explained. To help partners participate, Unitrends will provide "various snippets of information that partners can use for creating their own tweets, articles or things they want to share on LinkedIn," available on the Unitrends partner portal. The company has ready-made social media content available on the portal, as well.
Gordon said Unitrends is placing importance on social media in recognition of the influx of Millennials into the workforce and its impact on professional interactions. Additionally, social media gives the company another channel for connecting with its customer community and partners to establish closer relationships.
Rewarding the blogging community
The partner types Unitrends seeks to engage with include bloggers who will use or reference Unitrends content in their blogs.
"We recognize the importance of influencers in the market," he said, referring to the blogging community. "We wanted to be able to, within our program structure, to cultivate relationships with some of these influential people."
Among the bloggers Unitrends is looking to connect with are subject matter experts working within traditional channel partner firms, such as value-added resellers. Typically, they are solution architects or presales technical resources -- "people who have leveraged social media and blogging as a platform to establish themselves as subject matter experts."
“Anyone within our partner business [who] in any way promotes or is connecting with customers and prospects, we wanted to make sure we had a way of capturing and recognizing the value of that type of activity," Gordon said.
Unitrends is also looking to connect with professional bloggers and thought leaders who are not affiliated with any resell outlet, including consultants who write about the data backup and recovery space. By joining the partner program, these bloggers can access relevant content Unitrends has crafted. Bloggers who use Unitrends content in their blogs will have access to financial rewards, he said.
Using principles of gamification, Unitrends structured the new channel program so partners will earn points by engaging in social media marketing and other types of activities. Partners can accrue points to unlock "stars," which give them access to benefits within the program, such as market development funds and leads. Partners can unlock up to five stars in total.
"The stars equate to the level of engagement in how high up you rank within the program," Gordon said. "Ultimately, to unlock the fifth and final star requires that a partner achieve a 95%-plus customer-satisfaction ranking."
Unitrends also allows partners to use points for financial payouts. For example, using the company's traditional UniRewards program, partners can register opportunities, conduct campaigns and complete training certification to earn payout points. Other ways to earn them include providing customers who are willing to be public references.
Find out more about gamification in the channel.
Learn about sales and marketing for managed service providers.
Read about using social media in business.