SCORE Small Business Blog

Online Marketing: Twitter Lessons from a Tech Giant

I received the following article about how Dell is using Twitter to engage customers and solidify their brand. It had some good tips so I thought I’d share. (Reprinted with permission.)

Dell Demonstrates Twitter’s “Soft” ROI
Not many companies can boast a $1 million return on investment with Twitter. Dell can do that and more. Beyond driving sales through its 28 Twitter accounts – including @DellOutlet, @Alienware and @DellSmBizOffers – the PC-maker is driving a return that’s not as easy to measure but may be worth millions to the brand name.

Indeed, the value of connecting with customers and building relationships can pay dividends for decades to come. And that’s just what Dell is doing with its growing Twitter following. @DellOutlet has nearly 30,000 followers, and its other accounts combined total almost as many.

For Dell, it’s not about winning followers; it’s about starting conversations, fostering relationships and building communities. In doing so, the company is building a positive brand awareness in the social media world.

Of course, the return of investment of branding efforts is at best squishy and at worst nearly impossible to quantify. Add the social media element to the mix and it gets even more difficult to peg. Drill down to the Twitter level and some may say it’s impossible. But not for Dell.

Addressing Consumer Concerns
“We have resolved hundreds of thousands of customer issues through social media,” says Richard Binhammer, Dell’s social media guru. “People talk on the Web, and we’ve discovered you don’t have to wait until negative comments are reported in the media to address them.”

Binhammer offers product issues as one example. Every technology vendor has them, but many times you read stories in online tech magazines that include customer rants and lawsuit threats gathered from message boards and blogs.

By monitoring activity on Twitter, Facebook and blogging, Binhammer says the company has become aware of product issues quickly and can make moves to satisfy customer concerns before a tidal wave of negative backlash threatens the brand.

Gaining Share of Mind
Establishing a strong brand presence on Twitter also offers Dell payback in the form of staying top of mind with its followers. Dell posts tweets about twice a week to keep its followers informed of special promotions or upcoming products, as well as to launch surveys and offer value-added content.

But, as Binhammer noted, Dell also engages in conversation with its followers on Twitter every day. That ongoing conversation benefits the brand by breeding more familiarity, greater trust, developing a positive emotional connection and instilling brand loyalty. Although Dell has not gathered any specific metrics on these attributes, the company is convinced that its soft ROI on Twitter enhances its documented financial ROI.

How Dell Avoids Twitter Mistakes
Jeremiah Owyang, a social media analyst at Forrester Research, noted eight reasons why brands are unsuccessful in Twitter. He mentioned how brands were slow to the party and lost their unique brand name to some Twitter-squatter who thought it convenient to sign up for @disney or @marlboro.

Other brands, he says, have registered their brand name but sit silently on the sidelines. Still other brands fail to produce relevant content, don’t get personal enough or get too personal. Owyang also cites the ROI question and relates it to determining the ROI of a conversation in real life.

Perhaps Dell succeeds on Twitter because it doesn’t make all the mistakes Owyang noted. Dell’s objectives don’t include increasing the number of comments each month, or even driving up its follower numbers by a certain margin each week. Dell doesn’t obsess over tools that measure Twitter influence, like Twitter Search, Monitter, or Twinfluence. Dell doesn’t buy ads on Twitter users’ profiles and track the impact. Dell just engages with its customers.

“Our goal with Twitter and other social media sites is to gain share of mind and branding with influencers,” says says Ricardo Guererro, Dell’s Global Online Project Manager and “Twitter Dude.” “We are creating a channel of communication with consumers and that’s important from a branding perspective.”

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-Jacalyn Barnes, SCORE View more posts by Jacalyn

For 50 years, SCORE has helped aspiring and current small business owners achieve their dreams. Through a network of over 11,000 volunteer business mentors in 340+ chapters across the country, SCORE connects decades of business experience and knowledge with those who can best use it. | Facebook | @SCOREmentors | More from SCORE

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Discussion (6) Comment

  1. Ten Twitter Traction Tips for Entrepreneurs…

    A few months ago, I wasn’t sure if Twitter was relevant to my business of helping startups, or if it would be a waste of time. Now I have over 140,000 followers on Twitter as StartupPro, and the……

  2. stacyfayeVisitor

    What can be said? Dell is smart to incorporate Twitter into their marketing agenda. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

  3. J. BarnesVisitor

    Thanks for reading and for all the feedback.

    Twitter is an amazing tool to reach out to customers and increase recognition of (and respect for) your brand…if used properly. Look out for my upcoming posts on social media best practices, which includes a primer on Twitter.

  4. BeverlyVisitor

    Satisfying customers needs means happier and contented buyers. Every company should learn from Dell.

  5. business M.Visitor

    Dell is just is surprisingly good in utilizing today’s trend in getting contacts. They are just showing how they handle strategies in connection with the social media. I think this could be a wise move for big businesses nowadays.

  6. Twitter has become so huge. It’s easy to see more and more companies following Dell into this stream of marketing.


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