Case Study: Dell — live from Word of Mouth Supergenius

3:50 — Kurt Vanderah introduces Dell‘s Caroline Dietz.

3:51 — Caroline: Trying to tell a different story than what you’ve already heard in the past.

I’ve been at Dell for 7 years. For the last 4 years, I’ve been solely on social media and community teams. Social media is a journey — you learn along the way. We wouldn’t be where we are today without that journey.

We need a listening and engagement engine.

You need to know what it looks like when you open up your employees to listening and engagement.

Give the company bigger ears and be willing to take action and drive.

Help people, focus on customer needs, have suggestions, and work on brand reputation.

3:54 — We have social support channels — on Facebook (new app recently launched), on Twitter @DellCares (about 2 months old now), and listening across the web.

We use Radian6 to monitor conversations on the wider web.

3:55 — When we launched the blog, we realized many people just wanted to give ideas or suggestions. Michael Dell told us to think about how we could harness millions of people’s ideas.

We launched IdeaStorm in 3 weeks during early 2006. Michael Dell’s support was key for this. You need business and operational support. We reached out to 25 online influencers before we started and asked people to give feedback.

The day we launched the site, we didn’t put out a press release. We offered it to influencers and just told them to share with their network. We launched on a Friday, and by Monday we had 1000 new ideas on the site. It spread like wildfire.

3:58 — Within that first week, we had 2000 ideas, and we hadn’t fully figured out how to respond to them. Put together operational pieces as early as you can.

How it works: post an idea, and the community votes on the idea — thumbs up or thumbs down. Comment, discuss, and then decide what Dell is going to develop. We share what we’re planning to ask people what they think.

We have about 10 hard-core community members who vote on almost everything that’s posted.

We put up a “storm session” to get customer feedback about backlit keyboards, got the customer feedback, and got information for our product process without focus group expense.

4:01 — Caroline: We get about 80% improvements, 12% unusable, 4% innovations, and 4% other. The 4% innovations is where we’re really focusing. (We have done a lot of the improvements).

If you’re thinking about doing this, be prepared for the initial spike and then potentially lower steady state.

4:03 We provide regular updates on the Direct2Dell blog every 2 weeks.

Example: Linux community became passionate about having a Linux option for laptop purchases.

4:04 — Promoter engagement: not just people who are unhappy or having problems — we’re looking for people who are happy and are supporters. We engage by thanking, educating, encouraging, and participating. We take ideas and create smaller feedback loops.

We have a team of 6 and use Radian6 to monitor Dell promoters (after the Net Promoter score.)

Thank people. If they post about buying a Dell, we engage to give them extra information about their computer etc.

We Identify them, recruit them, and qualify them. Then we engage with them and activate them.

4:07 — Look into the data about the customers to identify who you want to invite to a small private community to get exclusive content — sneak peaks and VIP invitations. We also look at their social influence and reach. We look for amplifications. We create an ongoing relationship with this group. We can test announcements before we go to a wider audience. These people may come to the brand’s defense.

4:09 — June: CAP days — we flew our “ranters” (people who had problems) in and let them set the agenda. We listened to their issues regarding products, customer support, etc. At end of the day we asked what they thought. They loved it — no PowerPoint, all discussion. We admitted mistakes and let people rant. We had business leaders there to directly listen. We had a graphic facilitator and created a graphic we gave to all attendees to share through their social networks. “We helped Dell change.”

4:11 — For “ravers” — the real raving fans — we had the same kind of conference. We had different themes: environmental commitment, mobile space, and product ideas.

Results: We reached 2.5 million people in that first week. The intent wasn’t to generate buzz, but really to engage. We got the extra benefit of buzz online with customers telling people that Dell is listening.

1. Business was highly engaged — in the room, listening to feedback and following up.

2. Attendees had large social networks.

3. Third Party moderation by high profile outside bloggers.

We have a private community with a hashtag for follow-up and communications. The event isn’t the end — it is the start of the relationship.


Q: Liz Pullen: With your private communities — are those only for ravers or ranters as well?

A: We started with 2 communities. Two weeks into it, we realized the Ranters weren’t as angry. We merged the communities. Not all are engaged. Some stayed and participated.

Q: Coleman company: How did you set up IdeaStorm via the legal team? How do you keep competitors from taking ideas?

A: The legal team has been very supportive. We sat down with the IP team. There’s language on the T&C of the site — once someone submits an idea, it is Dell’s property. It is very clear to customers — they must agree before they get an account. There may have been a few things that stumped legal initially, but nothing recently.

Q: Melissa, Metro Health: Regarding promoters — Aside from airfare, were they compensated?

A: Air, hotel, transfer, meal and that’s it. We met with the legal team and worked out a disclosure agreement that they had to sign, saying that they would disclose to their audience what they got. None had an issue with that.

Some people were disappointed they didn’t get a product. But we felt this was more credible.

Q: Mike from Cymfony — You got 4% of innovative ideas-did they come more from ranters or ravers?

A: We haven’t done that analysis but we’re going to do that now!

Love this live coverage? It’s all thanks to the hard work of the very talented Howard Greenstein.

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