Dell & Social Media: A Social Success Story

Written by Bonnie Boglioli...April 22, 2011

This article is part of a series titled “Social Success Stories” in which we explore social media successes by platforms and organizations.

Case studies provide marketers and organizations with the data they have been craving in the social media landscape to effectively leverage the new medium. In this article, we examine how one of the world’s largest IT corporations chose to embrace the social web to drive measurable results. By streamlining, harmonizing, personalizing and selling, organizations large and small can learn from Dell’s innovative approach in the sector.

The DELL Case Study

True to its trailblazing ways, Dell was an early adopter in the social media space and leveraged blogs and community outreach well before the advent of social media. Today it boasts over half a million Facebook fans on its main account alone, and well over a million and a half Twitter followers on various accounts- two figures that have by no means come easy. By embracing social media and integrating it with its overall mission, Dell’s success in the space can be a blueprint for any organization, large and small.

Streamline:

Dell’s extensive work on Twitter reaches a broad consumer base and serves as a conduit for company information, special deals and consumer input. It wasn’t always this way, however. Just a few short years ago, Dell was not unlike other early adopter brands, attempting to quickly get involved in the space while sacrificing a definitive organizational structure.

Not satisfied with initial ROI results, the company streamlined and reorganized its multiple Twitter accounts. Dell scrapped the organic, ‘Wild West’ approach in favor of a carefully planned, managed and executed blueprint for success that works in harmony with the company’s goals. Today, Dell has over a dozen Twitter accounts that work together to symbiotically offer consumers what they are looking for. Accounts fall under tiers (much like departments) that include the inform, sell, engage and support categories to ensure that no area of Dell’s B2C relationships are left unattended to.

Organization’s social media needs differ greatly depending on size, market share, product and more. Not all organizations require multiple Twitter feeds, and many small to mid-size organizations can work well with just one or two. Determine the size of your business, staff and audience first, then streamline social accounts so that clients can easily gain access to information, support and conversation. 

Harmonize:

“Embedding social media across the fabric of the company is like having our customers walk the halls of Dell every day,” says Dell’s VP of Social Media and Community Manish Mehta. “We listen, learn, engage and act – enabling us to constantly be closer to customers and build a better business.”

Social media percolates every aspect of our society and is not simply a marketing tool to use on occasion. To take full advantage of the space, organizations must listen and be willing to engage with stakeholders. Dell is ahead of the curve on this fundamental concept, crafting a social media strategy that does more than cohabitate with its overall mission. It works seamlessly with other forms of marketing, advertising and support in a manner that today’s consumers are now expecting.

For mid-size and large brands, it is no longer enough to have a part-time staffer or intern address the growing demands of social users. For small companies and startups, this can be a particularly tricky element to grapple with as social media vies for both time and money. Yet in a recent McKinsey study, 69 percent of surveyed companies gained measurable results from social media (Web 2.0 McKinsey Global Survey Results). Embracing social media and the many benefits it brings is fast becoming the norm. By neglecting it, you will cast aside a lifeline that will soon be ubiquitous and lose out on forward-thinking, innovative strategy and measurable ROI.

Evangelize & Personalize:

Regardless of who is doing most of the social legwork in an organization, there is a lesson to be learned from Dell’s success in this area: employees are evangelists. Dell views employees’ social media participation as an asset rather than a liability and accordingly doesn’t restrict team members from utilizing mobile devices, apps or social media. Instead, the brand embraces it. Dell seeks passionate employees who recognize that the social web is a conversation from which measurable results can be driven while satisfying customers. Putting the human element into its varied social conversations, an otherwise stale account becomes a living, breathing and value-adding asset to the brand.

Uniquely, Dell puts their social experts’ professional photos and, in some cases, personal feeds front and center on the Dell accounts they manage. This brings some of the cozy brick-and-mortar psychology into the virtual space and underscores Dell’s commitment to conversation not only with customers, but within its own organizational ranks. It should be well noted that social training is crucial to ensuring employees understand company values, goals and the social space.

Finding the right person for the job will always be paramount to any tips or tricks available. Training those employees in the craft of social media and customer service is not just optimal, it is mandatory. Multiple employees managing social accounts also requires a definitive list of best practices so that everyone is on the same page and no one is navigating your social strategy blindly. Using a social media platform, such as HootSuite, ensures that parameters are in place for success and puts the entire lineup of social accounts and conversations at the fingertips of multiple team members.

Get Selling:

Dell is an exemplary figure in social commerce thanks in no small part to its Twitter initiatives. The @DellOutlet Twitter account, which links users to refurbished products from Dell’s outlet, drew in a whopping $6.5 million in revenue last year by direct links on Twitter alone (and a little help from its 1.6 million followers). Similarly, the company Facebook account offers the Dell Tag Team app, a personalized recommendation service that supplies product information, peer reviews, links for purchasing items and sharing purchases with friends. 

Dell did not set out to sell products on the social web, but it pivoted when it realized that consumers wanted access to special deals from its social feeds. Not listening to consumers would have denied Dell the opportunity for an additional sales outlet and growth in the space. Utilizing social feeds to link to products, reviews or discounts all serve to strengthen marketing and advertising with the added benefit of conversation, brand loyalty and- yes- the possibility of a new revenue source. 

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