The Dell PartnerDirect EMEA team talks to Jon Beck, Strategic Alliance Manager at Dell Premier Partner Fordway, UK about how he has used PartnerDirect Social Media training to boost Fordway’s business engagement.

Jon’s Twitter handle is: @FordwayPartners

 

PartnerDirect: For the benefit of setting the scene, tell me a little about Fordway the company.

Jon Beck - Fordway PartnersJon Beck: I’m the Strategic Alliance Manager at Fordway, a managed services provider and systems integrator for public, private and third sector organisations. We’re one of Dell’s Leading Enterprise Partners in the UK, and also have a significant Quest business. Customers include Baker Hughes, Smith & Williamson, and the London Borough of Brent. In the second half of 2012, we ramped up our social media presence and made a concerted effort to increase our levels of engagement. We applied particular focus to increasing engagement via Twitter and LinkedIn. Earlier this year we launched a new company blog via our website and this month we’ve undergone a website refresh.


PD:
How did you end up coming to Dell for social media training?

JB: Towards the end of the summer, an interaction with Dell’s PartnerDirect team on the Dell Partner Portal made me aware of a social media training package available to partners. I signed up, and found the training really useful and insightful. The training was something of a Eureka moment; previously, we’d only really been dipping our toe in the water with Twitter and LinkedIn. The training demonstrated that a more structured approach was required. As a result of this we devised a social media strategy with a focus to increase engagement.


PD:
It’s not always obvious how social media could help your business, and the returns are not always easily measurable. The good news is that social media can be a huge bonus to your business – and you’ll find the returns, while not always as easy to present on a graph as traditional marketing methods, are there and are measurable. What did you see in it for Fordway?

JB: The biggest message for me was that of engagement – the need to engage with every person you’re working with via the channel that’s of most convenience for them. That may be face to face, an advertisement, marketing activity, by phone, email, or, as is increasingly the case, via other new media in the social space. A contact made via LinkedIn, in the right context, can get the right information to the right individual at the right time. A lot of people, of course, still use social media for advertising or push marketing, but that can be a little one-dimensional. It’s a long way from being the only thing it can do.


PD:
So, how did you use social media after the training you participated in with Dell PartnerDirect?

JB: Quite a few of us already used Twitter – it’s not just the company Twitter handle, but individuals having individual conversations with business partners, customers and colleagues. It takes time to build a following, but you can get wider exposure by working with larger partners – like Dell. Getting a retweet from Dell can expose your message to a lot more people. But on top of that, Fordway’s staff are well connected – we can spread a message pretty quickly to a strong network. Initially, we didn’t do this consciously, but it grew organically, the result of many of us being engaged. This really comes into play with LinkedIn – we use it to build groups with the right individuals – customers, partners and prospects. We can talk about challenges, topics and events, and build relationships that way. In addition, the Social Media Training has enabled us to engage in a more dynamic way with the PartnerDirect team.

It’s been a pretty eye-opening few months, and we’ve already learnt a great deal. If I had any advice, it would be to get involved and get stuck in. The Dell training was really useful, and well worth our time.

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PartnerDirect Social Media Training runs every month, and is available to Preferred and Premier partners in the UK and Ireland. The session is free; to date we have trained 211 individuals across 188 companies globally, 98% felt they learned how social media could be helpful to their business. For more information and to register for the training log into the PartnerDirect Portal: for the UK click here, for Ireland click here

As a valued Premier Partner, the Fordway team have immersed themselves in all aspects of the PartnerDirect program. They have partnered with us in the completion of a Partner Profile that is live on the PartnerDirect Portal Showcase area, and a video case study featuring their customer Intelligent Energy.

In addition, Fordway is listed on Find a Partner – a graphical search engine and lead generation tool easily enabling end-customers to locate Fordway and search its expertise and Dell competencies through the PartnerDirect Portal. Find a Partner is restricted to Dell Preferred and Premier Partners.