I’m attempting to do something I have lately been doing solely via Twitter – that is, live blog content from an event. In this case, it’s the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) New Comm Forum being held this week in Sonoma.

This morning’s keynote was a conversation with Richard Binhammer (aka Richard at Dell). In case you’ve never heard of him, Richard is

part of Dell’s Conversations, Communities and Communications team with responsibilities for listening and learning online. Basically, [he] listens to bloggers and engages in conversations about Dell.

Dell has been doing this – officially and consistently engaging, since 2006 and so have considerable expertise and wonderful information to share. Here are some key points – if there’s something you’re particularly interested in, leave a comment and I’ll expand on the topic.

  • When identifying posts, Dell does a triage – urgently requiring a reply, something to watch, not requiring a reply.
  • This is an often-repeated statistic, but very significant. Prior to their blogging/outreach strategy Dell online conversational stats were 49% negative. They have now dropped to 21% negative (about 4000 daily conversations overall). I asked Richard whether the overall volume had gone down withe reduction in negatives, and he said no (which is very interesting).
  • As a result of being exposed to all of this (i.e. market forces), Dell.com is moving from a purely ecommerce site to a social/ecommerce blend (and they are not the only ones heading this way).
  • Richard stresses that this is not a thought leader outreach strategy (which presents the interesting assumption that the majority bloggers are not thought leaders, though I would argue that they are micro-influencers). He says he has relationships with more “joe” bloggers than “A-listers”.
  • This is critical: by catching issues in the blogosphere, Dell gets 2-3 week lead time before they hit mainstream media, though this lead time is by no means standard. It depends entirely on the vertical and the publication, i.e. WSJ would be expected to take that long, and in our experience with automotive, for example, the lead time is far less.
  • Richard is trying to figure out if when you engage with people who are positive, does it encourage positive conversation to increase?
  • Also in the experimentation vein: because of participation on Twitter he has sold 15 computers. What are the implications for business as the reach and impact of this tool increases?
  • Blogs are the fundamental voice of the customer in Richard’s view, and his “AHA!” moment was during the battery recall in ’06. They decided they were going to respond to every post about the batteries with a comment and a link to where recall info could be found. He responded to a blogger who had made a snarky sort of post, and the blogger updated his information, thanking Dell for coming by and noting that, by the way, the batteries were made by Sony. I was a powerful thing that impressed upon Richard how, if you do it right, an outreach strategy can have major positive impact on your brand in a very credible way.
  • Richard, since I know you’re going to find this – please let me know if I’m off the mark/have missed anything you think is key!

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    6 Comments

    1. Thanks maggie

      You got it. Mostly anyway. Two little things.

      I didn’t get on twitter to sell computers but being on twitter has resulted in my actual contribution to sales.

      My aha moment actually came as a result of a post by colleague and partner johnatdell.

      And Thanks for sharing the info

    2. Wow. That was fast.

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