Last week, I had the pleasure of being one of the speakers at Blog Potomac, an event that was well-organized and driven by Geoff Livingston and Debbie Weil. It was an honor for me to be part of such a strong group of social media folks. Simon Heseltine wrote a wrap up post and also summarized each of the keynotes over at EndlessPlain.com. Or take a look at the Blog Potomac site for all kinds info—videos, photos from the Flickr feed and more.
Since I still get broad questions about how Dell's social media strategy has evolved over the last two + years, I figured it made sense to begin my part of Blog Potomac by providing a framework for our external efforts:
- Listening: Originally started from a pure customer service perspective in April 2006. I've blogged about this in the past.
- Launching our own blog: Direct2Dell went live in July, 2006. Now we blog in five languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Norwegian and Japanese. We've also rolled out several additional standalone blogs: DellShares, Cloud Computing, Small Business, Inside IT, Dell Channel, Your Blog, and ReGeneration.org. A University Relations will be coming soon.
- Brand presence in the blogosphere: Started in August 2006 as natural extension from the listening we had started earlier. Outside of customer service issues, we found lots of bloggers who were commenting Dell from a brand perspective. It made sense to have conversations on that front as well.
- IdeaStorm: Launch date, February 2007. Click here for a background on what it's all about.
- Our latest phase is Microblogging: Twitter, Friendfeed, YouTube and Flickr comment threads.
I know this was familiar territory for folks that have followed Dell throughout our experience in social media. In fact, Technosailor called our blog outreach efforts old news, and asked me what we planned to do moving forward. My answer was that we've combined our outreach strengthen our focus. This combined team is a mix of our Digital Media Communications team, the Dell Community Forum team and our blog outreach team. I went on to add that we're also beginning work to better integrate our social media properties. More on that in a bit.
I failed to mention the concept of accepted solutions will play an even greater role in the future. Essentially, any customer who creates a new thread on the Forum can mark a response as an answer to the question or issue they raised. Take a look at Natalie's blog post for a better understanding what they're all about. Accepted solutions have taken off quickly—we've recently surpassed 7,500 accepted solutions since we introduced them in the Forum. We need to bring that functionality to the blog, and longer-term figure out how to pull useful information from accepted solutions into wikis.
That's where Integrating our properties comes in. We're really just getting it off the ground, and it's going to take us a while. We're aiming to have Dell Community Forum, Direct2Dell and wikis on the same platform. May seem easy on the surface, but it's pretty complex thing to solve. In my view, all of our social media efforts should revolve around connecting our customers to information that's helpful to them—whether they are looking for product support or trying to educate themselves on new technology or the latest Dell products. Lots of work to do there, but I think if we can get it right, we'll reach a more mainstream set of customers. We need to make it easy for all our customers to have conversations with Dell employees or other customers, and most importantly, to find the information they need.