This is a guest blog post from Richard Binhammer is the Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs at Dell. Richard might be best-known simply by his Twitter handle, @RICHARDatDELL. Some of my A-List podcast guests described Dell’s early efforts to deal with the advent of social media discourse as ‘ignoring it,’ while still others said they had their ‘head in buried in the sand’ – but all point to them as an example of a company who has course corrected and is now reaping the benefits of doing social media ‘right.’ Richard is at the heart of shifting perception of Dell from ‘hate’ to ‘great’ (case in point: Richard’s T-shirt in the photo, left). Join the conversation at Dell here.
It used to be that brands were based on presumed or understood values. Our interactions with a brand were not much more than an affinity based on transactions we made. Today, brand affinity and values run much deeper. Social media is bringing those formerly “static” brand values and promises to life.
Social media opens the doors for companies and their brands to have more lively and active relationships with customers, ones that allow us to interact in real time and breathe life into the brand. By connecting people in business with the people who consume our products and services, customers are closer than ever to what were thought of as far-off distant corporations. More than bringing a customer-focus to our businesses, connecting online is like having customers as colleagues and walking the halls of the corporation every day.
Whether it is a customer blog post, comments on a company blog, interactions with Twitter followers or Facebook fans, social media not only empowers the customer, it brings the focus for any business right where it should be… the connections between it and its customers.
Dell’s heritage in terms of the Web is a rich one. Dell was one of the early pioneers in e-commerce, and in 1997 announced it was making one million dollars a day through its online Web site. People today talk about customer support communities. Again, Dell launched its original customer communities back in the late 1990s, observing that our customers wanted a place to connect, share and learn as it related to their technology. As a company, Dell has always seen the Web as an asset to be used to help us build a better business.
Not surprising, therefore, at SXSW in 2007 folks from Dell started experimenting with Twitter as a new tool to sell refurbished units on @DellOutlet. People from Dell began connecting with customers on Twitter and soon other parts of our business were also using Twitter – surpassing one million followers and $6.5 million in revenue to date. Not surprising, in some countries, like Canada, customers asked Dell Canada to start using Twitter – and we did.
Listening to customers is a powerful tool to improve business and connect with customers. Whether it is changing a photo of a product on dell.com because customers expressed a desire to have a better point of view of the product; altering the layout of the keyboard in the Dell mini, or offering a full range of Dell (PRODUCT) RED™ signature products in which part of the proceeds go to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa, social media brings customers inside our business. Over at Dell’s IdeaStorm (@ideastorm) we have implemented more than 400 customer ideas.
In many ways social media is one of the most significant advances in communication since the telephone or email. And just like those tools have allowed people to reach out and connect with each other, social media takes this connections to new levels. As social media surpasses email adoption with 66.8% of Internet users having used social networks and only 65.1% have used email, our complete understanding and realization of opportunities to take advantage of its value are just beginning.
Fundamentally though, just as the phone or email enabled us to connect more and more broadly with friends, family and for business, social media is breathing life into once static brands and humanity into formerly far off businesses.