IBM Launches Global Boot Camps to Help Small and Midsize Businesses Build Social Media Skills

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ARMONK, N.Y. - 29 Feb 2012: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the expansion of a global skills initiative to educate clients and business partners on social media tools and techniques to showcase expertise and create new business opportunities. To join in the conversation around IBM's Social Media Boot Camps, visit LinkedIn.

With today's news, IBM is further investing in its clients and business partners across the world including emerging markets such as China, Australia and Saudi Arabia to develop the skills that will enable them to sharpen their social networking capabilities to build even stronger and more interactive ties with their clients. 

The IBM eight week social media boot camp is available to its business partners to provide the education and skills necessary to successfully engage in social media and begin driving the conversation around their brand.   This initiative provides IBM business partners and clients access to one-on-one social media coaches who set measurable goals for building and exercising social acumen.

This customized curriculum is designed for organizations to become more comfortable and effective in their marketing and sales efforts.  By using social networking tools and techniques participants learn to integrate social media into their daily business activities.

"Social media and social networking have greatly impacted the way we interact and communicate in our personal lives, how we promote our personal brands," said Ed Abrams, Vice President, IBM Midmarket Business. "But the real power of these concepts are still in its infancy in the business world. There are limitless opportunities for businesses to engage with their employees, business partners and customers over these social channels to help make better business decisions and reach new markets."

IBM Business Partners Gets Social

IBM Business Partner Starfire Technologies, Inc. was among the first organizations to enroll in IBM's Social Media Boot Camp. Prior to the program, Starfire's use of social media channels was limited. After enrolling in the eight week social skills program, Starfire is now leveraging social channels to re-architect the way it does business.

For example, as a result the tools and techniques offered by the Social Media Boot Camp, Starfire is reconstructing its company website, integrating social media tools and platforms to best interact with customers. The organization has transformed its business strategy by extending its reach through the social networks to create   significant interactions and two-way conversations with its customers.

"IBM's Social Media Boot Camp was instrumental in our understanding of how to effectively and strategically engage with our customers and business partners over social media platforms," said Mary Spurlock, Vice President of Marketing, Starfire Technologies, Inc..  "It also taught us enhanced ways to listen to our customers and engage in interactive conversations.  We learned to listen on the channels where our business partners and clients are participating, thus helping to identify and move opportunities faster through the pipeline. It's also helped us to create a valuable collaborative forum for marketing and client support."

Reaching Small and Midsize Businesses via Social

The amount SMBs spend on social media is set to almost double in 2012, according to recent market research. Almost two-thirds (64.4%) of SMBs currently market themselves via social media sites; however many still struggle in navigating the appropriate and relevant tools to harness business value for their organizations.

IBM Business Partner Key Information Systems serves SMBs in a variety of industries, encompassing 80 percent of the organization's client base, and agree that while social media is of profound interest to their clients, it is still posing a significant challenge. With Social Media Boot Camp, Key Information Services has not only better educated itself on how to better utilize social media resources, it is now sharing that knowledge with its clients and prospects.

"We're expanding and diversifying the way we connect with clients and prospects and honing in on what's relevant to SMBs," says Director of Marketing Pete Elliot, Key Information Systems. "We're hosting events where small and mid-sized organizations come together to learn about and collaborate on social media strategy. We're reaching new markets with creative social media marketing techniques. The IBM Social Media Bootcamp has helped take our efforts to a whole new level, further opening our eyes to the world of possibility and extending our ability to tap into new markets that we would have never reached without engaging over social media platforms."

After enrolling in IBM's Social Media Boot Camp, Key Information Systems has now integrated social into the work flow processes of every employee. Social has become a priority whether it's blogging or engaging with key constituents over Twitter, employees are dedicated to listening and interacting where their business partners, clients and prospects are talking.

IBM Business Partner  Profitecture has played a leading role in working with IBM to deliver their Social Media Boot Camps for Business Partners and their unique process is helping to extend IBM's prowess in guiding organizations' transformation into social businesses.

At IBM's PartnerWorld Leadership Conference, IBM and Profitecture will also host mini Social Media Boot Camp sessions on Thursday, March 1 where more than 100 IBM business partners from across the globe will participate to discuss the opportunities of social media on a global scale. Business partners can also continue to work with their IBM/Profitecture social media coaches after the Boot Camp program for more advanced training or to fine tune their social strategies.

For more information about IBM's Social Media Boot Camps please visit click here.

For details on IBM's social business initiatives, please visit or follow #IBMSocialBiz on Twitter.  

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