For Conversations in China – Dell Talks Through Sina and Renren

Forrester Groundswell Award Submission

Category: Business to Consumer – International, Talking


The Chinese social media
scene is unique compared with those of most other technologically advanced
international markets.  The estimated 385
milllion users participate in an online world of animation, pop-culture
expression and humor.  And, they are not
using Facebook and Twitter but rather platforms unique to the Chinese marketplace:
Sina, an infotainment and mini-blog platform, and Renren, a social networking

Dell recognizes that global
markets are unique and require unique approaches and channels for engaging with
customers.  So, following successful
social media programs like Direct2Dell,
IdeaStorm, @DellOutlet and as the first company
to start a Chinese-language corporate blog in the computer industry with Direct2Dell Chinese, the company assessed
how to leverage its existing social media best practices for China's unique social
media marketplace and in a manner that would relevantly engage with existing
and potential customers there.   

Dell's Vice President of
Social Media Communications Manish Mehta spoke about the differences in China's
online audiences in a recent Huffington
article stating, "People online in China communicate in a less formal
manner, one that is very creative – full of mash ups, fun and what we might
consider 'pop-culture' expressions, sarcasm and humor. In many cases the
chatter about products and brands is more prominent and powerful online than
offline. In fact, online conversations in China are among the most powerful
influence on what people buy."

Implementation and Results

Dell launched corporate
accounts on both Sina and Renren to build awareness and affinity among key
demographics: student and young professionals. Dell's goal was to share
relevant information and acquire fans through interactions and product

Dell created a mini-blog on and, in just six
months, became the third most followed international brand on with
20,000 fans and transformed the way an international brand talks to its customers
on this platform.  This timeline is summarized
and depicted in an image below.

  • Dell was the
    first company in China to offer exclusive Sina mini-blog coupons which caused a
    spike in the number of people following the Dell account on Sina.
  • Dell was the
    first company in China to implement customer surveys on which offered
    existing and potential customers the opportunity to provide feedback on existing
    products and services and allowed Dell to gather new ideas for product designs.
  • Dell formed a
    team of Employee Ambassadors to represent Dell on and interact with
    customers. These Dell specialists share news and information regarding Dell
    products and services, technology trends, and proactively reach out to
    customers to answer their questions, help solve customer service issues and
    thank customers for choosing Dell.
  • Dell integrates
    content being shared on with its audience via widgets and
    with its smartphone audience using an application.

Dell also joined the online community Renren and,
within four months, became the most followed corporate brand on the platform
with 300,000 fans. Other notable achievements include:

  • Dell created a
    virtual city to serve as a platform for talking with customers. This is a
    practice other technology brands now imitate.
  • Each Dell post on
    the fan site receives an average of 280 comments.
  • More than half
    (53%) of Dell's fans in RenRen are college-aged, an important audience for the
    company's future success in the consumer electronics arena.

presence on Sina and Renren has generated buzz from customers, influencers and
media. Notable coverage includes placement in Sina Tech, CNET, Business
Management Review
, Sohu, Advertiser, and China
Business Journal

About the Author: Lionel Menchaca