While other companies are still in the process of figuring out how to best utilize social media, it seems Dell has it all figured out. That is, if the sheer number of Dell Twitter accounts and its associated revenue of 6.5 million dollars are any indication. The company’s Twitter presence grew from a single account in 2008 with 3,071 followers and 11, 753 tweets to its current status of having thirty-five Twitter accounts, 3.5 million followers, and 22,091 tweets. For companies that are still unsure of how and why they should use Twitter, the Dell experience might be worth looking into.
Each of Dell's Twitter accounts are highly specialized and go well beyond routine customer service, sales, marketing, and technology updates. Instead, the company segments its forums by country, region and specific interests, some of which have very little to do with computer and electronics. Dell Lounge and ReGeneration are two such forums that come immediately to mind. That’s not to say that Dell does not use its Twitter accounts for outright sales. In fact, of Dell’s thirty-five accounts, twelve are sales accounts that tweet the latest coupons, exclusive discounts, and sales events by sales division and country. Others point back to blogs, video links, pictures and other social media sites featuring Dell.
A Balancing Act
What Dell seems to be doing much better than the average company, is striking the right balance in its approach to customer engagement while remaining focused on its real objective of generating revenue. A 2008 Business Week article entitled "Brands that Tweet" noted that many companies fail in this regard, as they either sound too formal or use the updates as a PR channel rather than a two way communication tool.
By having dedicated twitterers for each account, Dell is able to maintain an informal and personal approach even when the subject is coupons and sales events. For example, @StefanieAtDell is the face of Dell Outlet on Twitter and while co-tweeters sometimes respond to the community, Stefanie is the one to whom all questions and concerns are addressed. Another advantage is that with so many channels, the subject is more likely to stay focused. Dell’s main twitter page lists all of the company’s Twitter communities which further streamline the process of determining which forum is best suited for a particular question or comment.
The ABCs of Dell's Success
Dell Communication Officer, Richard Binnhammer , attributes the success of the company’s twitter campaign to three things: “a) being there on Twitter for people who are looking for us or our products. b) Offering sales opportunities that are meaningful to consumers, and c) interacting with people.” It has also been pointed out that adding to Dell’s success in creating such a strong presence on Twitter is the fact that the company is already well known. Although 6.5 million represents a much higher return on investment than other companies on Twitter, Dell is the third largest PC maker with a built in audience.
Although Binhammer’s comments are well noted, what can businesses without an established reputation take away from his remarks or from the Dell experience? In other words, if there is not already a demand for one’s product or service, how can Twitter or other social media sites be used to attain this?
A Balancing Act