Direct2Dell Three Years In

Today is the third birthday for Direct2Dell. In some ways, it seems like yesterday when we jumped into the blogosphere. What was supposed to be a "soft launch"  turned out to be a sprint. I'm thrilled to be here doing this job three years later… Like I've said many times before, this has been the most fun I've had in a job during the 15 years I've been here (or anywhere else).

What are some key things that happened in the last year? In November, we rolled out an updated version of the Dell Community site that combined blogs forums and wikis onto a single platform. Soon after that we rolled out a unified login process between both and community, which is the first step to allow us to share information between community and both ways.

The Dell Forums existed way before any of our blogs, and that's where many of our most active participants and contributors came from. Some of our most active community members have participated and helped each other in the forum for years. Lots of those you did not like the initial changes, and you told us so. In May, we introduced an update to address some of the concerns of our core community members tomake the forums look and function like a forum. While that update is an improvement, we're know we can do more and we will. Also, know that there will be improvements coming later on the search front as well.

As for blogs, while growth is generally a good thing, there is a limit. At one point last year we had 17 different blogs. Our readers told us that it was too many, and it made content too hard to find. Since, then, we've been working to consolidate our main blogs and will continue to do so.

Your feedback continues to shape this blog and Dell's social media efforts in general. Thanks to all of you who take the time and effort to share your thoughts. Your comments, perspectives and points of view make us a better company.  Listening and engaging customers here at Direct2Dell, on Twitter and around the blogsphere is something that I've always believed is the most important aspect of our social media efforts.

So what does the road ahead look like? In the next several months, we'll be rolling out an updated version of our community site based on Telligent Community 5.0. With that update, all blogs, forums and wikis will continue to be on the same site (just as before). But this time around, we'll have a lot more flexibility in terms of:

  • Content Syndication – We're working through how to share Dell community content both to and from various places on and beyond Dell properties altogether.Creating a two-way content pipeline between our Dell community content and is the first step. Then comes the process of extending that two-way pipeline between the Dell community and social networking sites.
  • Content Aggregation – We're producing content in lots of places beyond blogs in places like Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and several places on Facebook. So are our customers. All that content is driving a need for us to unify fragmented conversations. To that end, we're working to figure out pull a mix of Dell-generated content and non-Dell generated into central locations.

For us to really move things forward, I think we have to nail both aspects above. We're intrigued by the Lifestreaming buzz that Steve Rubel kicked off recently as well as other things like FriendFeed's implementation of real-time search. For Dell, I agree with Jeremiah's take-it's really a question of aggregation. Several of the folks on our team think topic-based activity streams (streams of related information pulled together in centralized locations where our customers want to consume that information)  will be key building blocks of community in the future. Lots more work to happen there.

Note: Click the image below to see a larger image of it.

Add it all up and it looks like we've got some interesting times ahead. Thanks again  to all of our community members and to customers who engage with us through different social media networks. We couldn't do it without you.

About the Author: Lionel Menchaca