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How Dell uses Social Media

Webinar am 19.10.2011 10:00 Uhr

Talking to Michael Buck, Director Online Marketing from Dell explains how his company actually uses Facebook and Twitter.

Due to the effects of social media companies have to re-organize marketing, public relations and customer service. This is only one of the experiences gathered by Dell Computer, a global pioneer in online marketing. had an exclusive interview with its Director of Global Online Marketing at one of the world’s largest online marketing fairs dmexco at Cologne, Germany. Michael Buck explained how this multinational company actually uses Twitter and Facebook.

What are the main difference between Twitter and Facebook?

Twitter is a great platform when it comes to service, support, and giving customers quick responses when they have a problem or they are looking for information. Customers don’t want to call Dell; they’re looking for a quick thing.

Facebook is more about fan-engagement and brand. You can display and launch products differently. It’s more about how you engage with your fans on an ongoing basis.

What both don’t yet have is the sustainability of a forum. In a forum, you can search the history of the site. All social media don’t have that in a good form. It’s really the moment that counts. Not each customer has a different question. Queries get repeated several times, and if you have the sustainability of a forum, customers can find the answers to their problems faster than having to wait for an employee at Dell to answer them within 24 hours.

How do you use social media in an efficient way?

Social media can be a blessing, but if the company does not know what to do with it, it becomes a curse. Following are a number of steps on how to make the Facebook-Page and Twitter-Account of your company as efficient as possible:

1- Determine your objective for social media usage:

What do you want your pages and accounts to achieve for you? Who are you targeting?

2- Find the right support in the company:

Put resources behind the social media, otherwise it will die very quickly.

3- Have a plan on how to structure your social media outlet.

Have a clear plan how to structure your Facebook or Twitter-page, based on your objective.

4- Listen to your customers:

It’s all about listening. Listen to your customers before you act. What do they want, what are they interested in, what are they talking about, where are they talking about your company. Follow your customers in the web. When you see that there is a critical number of masses interested in your company, start to engage. Engagement starts with a topic and a platform, which is really interesting for your customers.

You also need to know what to do with feedback. Are you just actively responding? Are you learning something from it? Are you bringing it to decision-makers to make decisions with it? You need to be sure of what you want to do with it. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of conversations.

In Dell, we talk about this as “managing the noise”. There is a lot of noise out there, and Noise in this case doesn’t mean only negative noise, but you need to sort out what positive, neutral and negative noise is for your company and your objective. You need to actively work with it.

How do you fill pages and accounts with relevant content?

You need to have people who are actually listening and actively participating with customers and keep this content fresh. If you don’t, you will watch your platform change, and that is when you will have to adapt to your primary strategy. Otherwise, you’re maintaining either a dead platform or your customers are taking over completely and you’re just in the receiving-mode. Keeping the balance between supporting it well and taking the feedback from your customers is really important.

How to set up and develop your Facebook-page?

We’ve been in this business now since 2006 and we have earned the respect of a lot of customers on the web. That allows to sell through Twitter and Facebook. Is this the channel for the future? Absolutely yes! The question is how fast you can scale it and how much your fans are allowing you to sell to them over your platform.

In order to come to the point of selling, you need to follow a series of steps through the Facebook-network first:

1 – Find your audience.

2 – Bring your audience in.

3 – Engage your audience.

4 – Gain the trust of your audience.

5 – Set up an online shop.

Selling is an end-result of these steps.

When talking about the amount of pages a company should have on Facebook, it is best to customize the pages by subject. For example, we have a gaming hardware platform that is customized to the need of the gaming community that uses our hardware. A generic Dell-page would have a lot of people with a lot of interests. Customizing a channel for smaller businesses is the key for us. It doesn’t matter how many fans you have, it matters how engaged they are and this is where the value lies. Engagement means either you learned something or you have the opportunity to sell something.

You use Twitter for customer care. What is your experience?

We have a Twitter-account (@DellCares) that is specified to answer customers’ questions and to respond to their concerns.

We have a service level agreement that we respond to a question in less than 24 hours. You have to be able to respond to customers.

For a company, it is time-saving and cheaper to have a Twitter-customer-service. The beauty of it is that we have so many customers on Twitter. In 40 – 50% of the cases the customers answer other customers faster than we do. In that respect, if you think about staffing for Twitter-responses, you don’t have to staff 100%. We have so many knowledgeable customers who know our products as well as we do and they are very quick in responding. The balance between things means that you have a very active platform, you have very satisfied customers because their problems get fixed very quickly, and you have other customers who are actually positively helping.

Our customers who get their problems solved via Twitter are more satisfied than those who get their answers through call-centers. Not every customer likes to use Twitter of course – there’s the matter of age for example.

How do you staff your company’s Twitter-account?

We do have several Twitter-support departments. It started with a handful of people, but it’s growing because the traffic itself is increasing. In a global company, you have to have Twitter-support in different countries, because those people have to understand the language of worldwide customers. So it’s difficult to say exactly how many people we have only for the Twitter-service; several dozens in Germany for sure, since it’s already a business-channel for us there.

We hired call-center-people when we started our Twitter-platform, but that did not work well. The reason was because call-center-people typically have a different way of responding over the phone and also one needs to be able to quickly turn a piece of information around. We have to have people who are knowledgeable about what the company does. You cannot just outsource people to do the job.

Michael Buck

Executive Director, Global CSMB Online Marketing & Marketing Strategy at Dell Computers.