Dell has been an early adopter of social media tools. Other than Apple that uses them for creating hype Dell uses social media in the direct business sense: They use Twitter to make money via direct sales among others.
In 2008 Dell managed to earn 2 million in revenue on Twitter which is a considerable amount unless you compare it to the overall revenue. In 2008 the Dell revenue was 61,1 billion dollars. So at the end of the day it’s not much for such an international corporation.
I’ve been following Dell’s engagement with social media for quite a while. Also I don’t like the rather sneaky approach of Apple to create publicity behind the scenes. Dell in contrast is straightforward and truly democratic in some of it’s social media outreach campaigns. Just yesterday I linked to their Ideastorm website as a great example of such outreach.
Dell Ideastorm is a huge project though. What’s by far easier to accomplish is using twitter as the so called “social media phone”. In case you follow me on Twitter you noticed that I use to complain all the time in spite of preferring positivity. In a way I test the companies reactions. Just recently I complained about Dell once again. After stumbling a blog post about a very affordable business notebook by Dell for 299$ I want straight to the Dell page, the US page. I’m from Germany so I wanted to see whether this laptop is available here too.
Dell offers a drop down menu on this page where you can choose from a plethora of countries. Now while choosing I noticed Tanzania as one of the options. As a former media activist I rejoiced at the thought of the digital divide being bridged by a high profile corporation like Dell. I wanted to check out what their offer in this African country looks like. All I got was an ugly error. I later checked the Germany option to see an error there too but before I complained via social media phone about the “Dell FAIL”.
Later on that day I was contacted by a Dell employee via Twitter though. He wasn’t angry or something he just inquired about the actual URL the error happens. He did a few times as the first URL I send him was just the error page so he couldn’t deal with the original problem. So obviously Dell employs diligent social media phone operators. You just complain into the social media sphere and the person who is responsible replies. That’s by far simpler than me looking up and calling a service number indeed.
Now you probably think that in 2009 every corporation does that. Well, they don’t. I complained about ASUS.com earlier this week. Why? ASUS.com refers to Gemany and Poland (and all other European nations) as being in Asia which is an insult. Europeans are somehow proud not be Asians which might be eurocentric but it’s still a stupid looking mistake. You can still see it right on their homepage. So while this ludicrous issue still persists at ASUS.com Dell managed to deal with their issue which was hidden somewhere on a product page. How can I trust a computer company like ASUS to build a good hardware when they don’t even get the difference between Europe and Asia?
OK, most of us are not corporation and their representatives. We can learn though from these two. Listen and reply to the social media phone like Dell does and don’t mess it up like ASUS. It should be known by now that the social media conversation is going on all the time and people are talking about you. On Twitter you need just very simple tools to track it successfully. Do it and don’t FAIL.