How social media work

We are all inundated by talk of social media...user generated content about what you want them to talk about. Blogs are one of the earliest examples of social media in electronic form...but gossip is the original social medium. I have marveled for years about people who post highly intricate technical questions to one or more of the Internet discussion lists devoted to automation issues...instead of just calling their local tech rep. Sometimes, though, it becomes pure gossip. Here's something snitched from one of those lists...
I attended a training class on a non-AB product last week and heard from several local systems integrators that AB was now giving their distributors commission on services sold through AB, thereby cutting out the local SIs. Is this true or was it just a bunch of the competition blowing smoke? Anyone know? I just can't see how this would benefit AB or their current System Integrator network.
Vendors need to be very aware of the fact that they could be in serious trouble in the marketplace, and yet not even know it. Anybody can post stuff like this, regardless of whether it is true or not, and such posts (thanks to Google) have a permanent life of their own.