Delling with Bloggers: A Reprise

‘Tis the season to reflect on social media, New Marketing and perception triggers in a Web 2.0 world.

Three weeks ago, in Delling with Bloggers: Listening, Engaging and Delighting the Users, I posted about a session with Dell’s Richard Binhammer on Dell’s experiences and some outcomes as a result of Dell’s change in approach 18 months ago to dealing with the blogosphere. At the time I mentioned I had also had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times Lionel Menchaca, who is responsible for Dell’s blog Direct2Dell. The initial months of Dell’s blogging relationships were also reported in Shel Israel’s and Robert Scoble’s book, Naked Conversations.

Shel recently told me that the Dell case has become a "classic" in his presentations and discussions on the impact of social media on enterprise operations. Yesterday Shel, in his ongoing series of interviews for his SAP Global Report on Social Media’s impact on culture and business, reported on an interview with Lionel that provides more insight into Dell’s blogging activities, getting internal buy-in as well as rebuilding credibility with the blogosphere audience.

Recall Richard’s comment: "You don’t lose control by joining the conversation – you gain it. Not engaging online is when you lose control". In the interview Lionel talks a lot about managing control through blogging [author’s bold]:

6. As you know, many enterprise decision makers are fearful of being shouted at, lack of adequate measurement tools, loss of message control, leaking secrets and of course–no clear ROI. How would you address each of these?

I think all of those issues are reasons why corporations stay away from joining conversations. I would argue though that the benefits of being part of the conversation outweigh all the risks. In my view, it’s really about facing the reality of the changes that are happening in front of us. Companies need to admit that control is shifting toward customers. More and more customers are talking about companies they either like or dislike. Those conversations happen with or without companies being actively involved. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that those conversations have more influence over perception than much of the marketing material and PR messages that companies produce.

We wrestle with measurement tools and ROI all the time for a couple of reasons:

• This is a new, but maturing field, and that means it will take time to develop tools and metrics that mean something on a broad scale
• Proving ROI in social media almost always involves looking at a topic over an extended period of time

In my view though, the real value in social media is that it has the potential to change customer perception in ways that just weren’t possible before. Just because that’s hard to measure doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Time will tell, but it seems to me that not being part of the conversation is a far riskier proposition.

The entire interview is definitely recommended reading. But then take the time to read two other thought provoking posts published today on the topics of New Marketing, passion, control and social media.

Hugh McLeod: "So What’s All This New Marketing Stuff, Anyway?"

And Richard Binhammer: "Food for Though at Christmas".

Tags: Dell, Direct2Dell, Lionel Menchaca, Richard Binhammer, Shel Israel, Naked Conversations, SAP Global Report on Social Media, Hugh McLeod

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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