Companies have always focused on how to get new customers. A brand is only as strong as its number of sales. Marketing has developed so many sub components over the years and one of the biggest developments includes the rise of social media and its implementation into a company’s marketing strategy. It’s mostly used to target new consumers, but there is another audience that marketers should target: potential business partners. Although partnership marketing isn’t something new, collaborating with potential business partners has become a lot easier, thanks to social media as it provides new ways of communicating with each other.

Why this should be included in your social media marketing strategy? Because the benefits are worth it! If you do this right, both you and the partner company will reach social media marketing goals. These are just a few of the benefits:

–          Expanded network: There’s a very small chance that your partner company is reaching all of the people in your target audience, and vice versa. The goal is to expand your network; in both terms of target audience and professional connections.

–          Access to more resources: If the partner company is part of a different industry or niche market, that company is very likely to offer different products or services and therefore use different resources. In a partnership, you should also have access to these resources whenever necessary.

–          Creating concepts: Partnerships should equal new perspectives which lead to new concepts and ideas (e.g. Facebook promotions). This is beneficial to both parties.

–          Overall mutual winnings: Obviously, you should choose a partner that will boost your image and will gain mutual winnings. In other words: more profit and more brand awareness for both brands.

This brings us to the “partner criteria” part. An interesting process, but also very time-consuming. You should always thoroughly research the company you choose. No one can predict the future, but you have to be able to estimate possible consumer and media reactions and moreover, the pros should always outweigh the cons (if there are any cons). Potential partners should align with your brand values and be fully committed to honoring the partnership. It’s key to choose a brand that will add value to your brand and more importantly, your consumers. In return, you have to offer additional value for the partner as well. This is why you need to set up clear agreements from the start; it should be understood what type of content is meant for social media sharing.

Social media partnerships are often considered low-investment partnerships. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and is relatively easy to apply. Networks like Facebook and Twitter offer a few opportunities to reach different audiences. For example, you can use your partner’s Facebook account to promote your campaigns. You can also “share” each other’s content on Facebook and encourage fans to do the same. Furthermore, you can use Twitter to retweet each other’s messages in order to reach different followers, and once again, include a call-to-action: ask followers to retweet (RT).

Don’t forget to use the company blog to make referrals to your partner, but only if the referral is relevant to your blog; you don’t want to lose credibility or readers. And a quick tip: include winning prizes in social network campaigns, because everyone wants to win! The prize could be a product or service created by both partners.

It wouldn’t surprise me if social media co-branding will be implemented by more businesses in the near future. I think that along with the growth of social network users, social media will continue to develop. What do you think? Should more companies establish social media partnerships? Let me know by leaving a comment.