The team at Dell really gets social media in its various applications for the enterprise. From monitoring the social media ecosphere for customer support issues, to creating $19M in revenue via sales connections made on Twitter. Blogging, micro-blogging, forums and online social networks are all part of the Dell toolset. There is no doubt though that the processes developed by the Dell people are firmly rooted in an ROI strategy that demands efficiency.
In previous episodes we met Michael Buck, who is the Director and General Manager for the Global Small and Medium Online Business at Dell, responsible for the overall online business and strategy for Dell SMB worldwide. He spoke with us from his offices in Stuttgart Germany and first told us about the Four Pillars of the online effort at Dell that are a part of everything they do.
In our last episode, Michael shared how the approach differs for a business-to-business (B2B) customer versus a business-to-consumer (B2C) customer and how they make sure the top Customer Value Drivers are embedded in their tactics. In that episode he also shares what the top five metrics are that they apply to their online marketing and social media efforts – all really great information.
In this episode, Michael declares that ‘Marketing is the New Finance’ because with the power of social marketing, Dell is able to affect both the revenue and the expenses of the organization. He tells us that eCommerce is not the beginning of a relationship with their customers – it is an outcome of the relationship they build via the online elements they deploy to connect to their customers. Michael goes on to share that they have been benchmarking social tactics versus traditional and find that social elements are so powerful that, in the SMB education they provide to their customers, in some cases social elements warrant a clear consideration to perhaps flat out replace some traditional components.
He explains that it is very important to start the relationship with the customer from a level of trust, a trust that is earned from customers; it is not a given for Michael that customers will engage with Dell online just because they produce a campaign to helps them do so. He suggests that without that trust, the customer will not engage regardless of the tactic used.
A campaign that he refers to in the interview is the ‘Take Your Own Path’ campaign that leverages actual Dell users from a variety of industries to tell their own story and how Dell has supported them in their computing journey. They encourage customers to share their stories and in this campaign, Dell has melded the online and offline components to present a consistent look, feel and message to the audience. What you see in airport signage, magazines, billboards and online all mesh to share the message that Dell is a good partner to count on for your business computing needs.
To encourage user interaction for the Dell team, consumer choice is key in the Dell presence and they strive to support a broad offering of community and communications options that lets the consumer dive into the Dell experience as deeply as they wish. An invitation to connect in social media though is not with out a caveat however, Michael suggests that if a company does adopt a social presence, they need to take the presence online seriously and to participate willingly; he suggests that if the online presence is perceived to be a gimmick to pump the same content and marketing message they can get offline and that there is no intention of engaging, elements of the audience will call you out and they 1) will not engage and 2) they will tell others that your presence is hollow.
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To support the work in uncovering the ROI question in social media, we’ve set up a Fan Page at Facebook, and a LinkedIn Group. Come join us and let us know what the pressing issues are in your efforts to determine an ROI in your social media presence!