Chronicling the Dell Social Media Saga
I’ve been watching this Dell story for quite a while, even been on a panel with blog expert Shel Israel, author of Naked Conversations discussing it.
[Dell has come so far, they’ve learned to listen, converse, and lower the corporate walls. While this saga is not over, this is becoming a classic case study of a corporation making a 180 degree turn using Web Tools]
Gone to Hell, Cursed, and Exploded
Dell’s taken a freaking beating in the past years due to social media bloggers. you can do a search on Dell Hell, and at one time, if you did a Google Search on the term “Dell Support” bloggers not happy with their support come up. (Today’s Google results show it’s still on the first results page)
Joining the Conversation, Cautiously, then with Gusto
Dell launched their One to One blog, which was met with mixed feedback. While some didn’t think they did an authentic job at joining the conversation, others supported them for the effort. A few weeks after the initial launch, Dell started to publically recognize their faults. At CES, I had the pleasure to hang with Michael Dell himself, (thanks to Lionel) where Dell said they were going to start embracing Social Media, watch the video yourself.
Turning it up with Customer Collaboration
Just a few days ago, I helped to announce IdeaStorm, the idea was for Dell to create a Customer Feedback/Collaboration web tools that will let customers and employees create products together. Marshall Kirkpatrick at Techcrunch, wasn’t sure if I was completely right that employees were fully onboard. Engadget cleverly modifies the tagline as they state that Dell Wants You to Make It Suck Less with Digg Clone.
Acknowledging the Voice of the People
Well it appears that Dell corporate (which I hope includes some employees) that they are on board and that they are taking IdeaStorm seriously. On this summary list, Dell demonstrates they are listening to what customers have been saying. A very strong meme is leaning towards open platforms (or none at all). It’s even moved it’s way up Digg, a popular user voting site. Not sure if the solution is worked out, as the costs may be even higher to get a wiped hardware machine.
Blindsided from ignorance
Learned how to listen
Built tools to join the conversation
Learned the right way to interact
Reached to community
Acknowledged customer requests
Next Step (and most important) For Dell:
This is the most important part, the final leg of this cyclical journey is to get Dell to give the products that the people ask for.
Document and Measure
It will be very interesting to see if there’s a reduction in Product Research costs from these tools. Could be a very insightful case study on Social Media ROI for corporations, I hope Dell shares this info with me. Keep at it Lionel Menchaca (the Community Manager), Michael Dell and the rest of the Dellions. By the way, if this whole concept is very new to you, I recommend you read the Cluetrain Manifesto.
Update March 2: The saga continues with IdeaStorm injures scores at Dell — “sounded like a freight train”. Apparently, Dell will not be building what the people asked for in IdeaStorm. Ars Technica speculates the many reasons why it doesn’t make sense for Dell. For what it’s worth, either way, the market knows what the market wants, and it’s documented, in addition for great buzz for Dell.
Update March 13th:
Dell has made an announcement that it plans to offer Linux to customers, the flavors will depend on how users answer the survey. I met with Lionel yesterday, and knew about this in advance. I was able to interview him for my video Web Strategy Show, he’ll be up soon.
Update March 29th:
After reviewing over 100,000 survey submissions, Dell is now offering it’s Linux flavored offerings. The company is listening.
Update April 3rd, 2007:
Lionel Menchaca visits in person with Jeff Jarvis, who first coined the business blogging case study “Dell Hell”. This community relations in real life was a success.
Update May 24th, 2007
Ubutu, a flavor of Linux is finally released as a product. Lionel uses video to tell his story.
Update June 16th 2007
The consumerist releases an ex-employees 22 tips on how to buy the best computer, although Dell demands a retraction. Jeff Jarvis sympathizes with Poor Dell, Lionel of Dell responds from the Dell one to one blog.
Update October 18, 2007
Dell’s continued push to reach to customers has paid off, relationships, communication and conversations are starting to be the very fabric of their company. Business Week runs this story, praising Dell for all that they have done. A few times people have told me they are tired of hearing about Dell as the case study of success, the problem is, few or no other companies have moved this far in such a short time. The deserve our applause.
I’m hoping to start this meme, that others will join in and share their media consumption diet, in hopes, that we’ll start to learn how they get information or be entertained. I’ve sort of mixed up mediums, and media types, but after some thought, that’s the best way to organize it.
My Media Consumption Diet (most used at top, least used at bottom):
Web: This is primarily where I get most of my news. I get my news from my Feedreader, I’m plugged into 160 subscriptions, but some of those are news feeds, techmeme, digg, and scoble’s shared feed (an incredible filter). I rarely go to ‘news sites’ like CNN, MSNBC, NYT, like I used to, although for a while, I was subscribed to Al-Jazeera and BBC to get other perspectives.
Music: I listen to Pandora at work, sometimes at home. I play CDs in the car most of the time, rarely listen to the radio. Used to have XM radio but canceled it in my car as the sound quality was crap. (I have ‘dog’ ears, after playing music starting at the age of 4) Sometimes I plug in the iPod while driving (but haven’t done that as much as the sound quality is not that great)
TV: I rarely turn on the TV, in fact, I only watch it if my wife has it on at home. I’d prefer to turn it off and turn on music (rarely radio, most often MP3, or Pandora, as I have my computer hooked up to my PC). We recently got comcast ondemand at home, that’s interesting. We don’t have Tivo. I really don’t watch TV, it was just last year that we got cable. Like most Gen Y (I’m Gen X) I use the computer in the foreground, and the TV is on in the background.
Communication: I access my email via my laptop. I have a 3G card now (thanks PodTech), or wifi at home. I have a LG phone where I check techmeme and personal mail while mobile. I’ve removed IM from my life as much as possible. I’m experimenting with Twitter but don’t think to use it all the time.
Update March 15, 2007:
I’ve starting to use Twitter more and more, and it’s cutting into my feedreader consumption.
Movies: We sometimes like to watch movies at theaters, which I tend to focus completely on, as they tend to be higher signal to noise, minus the ads forced during a theater experience. We used to rent movies from netflix and even the in-store blockbuster, but now that we have ondemand, we may just shift to that.
Magazines: I get Business 2.0, Wired, Forbes at home, and like them as they help to give summaries, and sometimes in-depth stories. I sometimes like the ads, as I can determine who’s got budget (A marketing hunt trick). I rarely find the news as ‘breaking news’ but often a symbol that the buzz I’ve already been reading about for a month or two is actually getting traction.
Books (Just added this as an update)
Yes, I read about 6-12 books a year, most are web or business related, I rarely read fiction. Yes, I find these books enjoyable, and many authors send me copies, which I often review from my blog. Often, I read these books while on travel.
Newspapers: What’s that? I was in the New York Times two days ago, and I didn’t even buy the physical paper.
What’s your Media Consumption Diet?
I’m signaling to Calacanis, Loren, Scoble, Martin, Pirillo, and all my contacts at the Media 2.0 workgroup to share how they get their information. Or if you don’t have a blog, leave a comment to your media consumption diet.
Update: Quick Analysis by Peter Kim shows that our diets are void of advertising dollars, does that mean that web advertising is efficient, or that I’m avoiding it?
Update Feb 27th: Folks are sharing their diets, you can see all of the blogs linking to this post from Technorati. Not a surprise that bloggers consume most of their content via the feedreader or the web, and overwhelmingly, most have newspapers at the bottom of the list. Over time, we should be able to see some real patterns in media consumption, this really will help those in the web and media industry to deliver the right tools.
Technorati Tag: Media Consumption Diet
Many viral video networks
I know some companies that are deploying viral videos, the challenge for them is that they’re releasing them on more than one video network. There’s quite a few, from Revver, Blip, YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe, Grouper, and quite a few others.
I created a list of video sharing sites back in August, it’s already way outdated. If you’re not sure which video site to use, you could always compare all the video sites in this side-by-side comparison.
Measuring still a challenge
The goal in today’s distributed web marketing strategy is to get your content to go far, and have ‘legs of it’s own’. With that come challenges in measurement and tracking. It appears companies like VidMeter Tracker can aggregate instances of all forms of media, aggregate total views, as well as comments, making the job of a marketer a little bit easier. Although they track 32 video networks, I’ll suspect that only about 5 really matter, and at the end of the year, only 3 will really matter.
Also, If you’re just using YouTube, check out TubeMogul which apparently has robust reporting features.
A friend of mine wanted a list of Social Media Applications that he could rebrand and use for his clients. I gave him a list of 7 or so on email, then decided to start a blog post on it. Within the hour, I had about 10.
I count over 30 White Label Social Networking Suites
Now, a few days later, the submissions have slowed down. Check out this list of 37 Social Networking Applications that one can download, or use a hosted version to rebrand.
Remember the CMS and Portal Craze?
This reminds me of the first web movement when everyone was crazy over CMS systems from late 90s to early 2000l, and then how everyone went crazy over portals (I myself worked on one at Exodus, called MyExodus, which even got awards). Now, many web managers have expressed their frustration with CMS systems never working, either they’re too complicated or inflexible. The portal strategy is dying, the new way is distributed content networks. I’m sure like all things, it will swing back over to centralized.
Google and Yahoo could play
I’m waiting to see if a company like Google can figure out how to white label such a tool, they already did it with Blogger, so why not take on a social networking tool. It would seem that Yahoo has a lot to gain, as they have one of the top viewed sites, tons of IDs and registered users, Yahoo Groups is antiquated and Yahoo 360 is irrelevant.
In the end only a few will matter. Some will get swallowed by large web or software companies, their features integrated or dismantled. There will be a some mergers and partnerships. Some will cease to matter, as they fall off the map. Others will evolve into something else. Will be interesting to see what happens.
This is one of those posts to send to your field marketing team in Asia.
This makes me want to start a China division for PodTech in Shanghai, Beijing, and HongKong. 43% of the Global internet users in the world are in China. Jennifer Jones interviews Sam Flemming in Shanghai.
If you’re seeing this in a feedreader, here’s the podcast player.
(Left: A scribe at the conference was capturing the big “Aha” ideas and sharing on the screen, photo by David Parmet)
It was fascinating for me to observe as an outsider looking in to the world of journalism and traditional media at the WeMedia conference in Miami this week. My notes from day one are the same as my summary, now that I’m back at home. Social Media is impacting them in ways that some are having a hard time grasping while some have already figured out advanced adoption models.
I noticed frustration and during some of the heated conversations. There was certainly conflict there was in how the industry was trying to figure out how they fit into this new model. Questions of we vs me, lack of fact checking in social media and bloggers, time to market, first person reporting, local vs hyper local, and of course, how the hell does one make money?
I heard some executives from large media companies stand up and really speak in the ‘command and control’ voice, they used terms like audiences and messages, rather than communities and conversations.
One lady made frequent complaints that her voices was not heard from her hyper local neighborhood. She blamed media for only covering her community when something bad happens. I was confused, why doesn’t she start a blog and be her own news creator?
Towards the end of the conference I finally grabbed the mic and introduced myself. I made it clear I was a blogger and I help corporations figure out how to stay relevent. I told the conference how they’re not alone, (in fact I think the media industry is ahead of the general marketing industry) and that they should look towards the Tech Industry as a model for success.
The Tech Industry is unique, we’re early adopters, and most of the time (but not all) we collaborate online sharing and arguing ideas. I told them to check out the beautiful playpen of TechMeme, where traditional media and selected bloggers already coexist in harmony (and sometimes in dissonance, and that’s ok too, as we do it together).
As I said that, several folks at the conference went to the site, only to see a meme on the WeMedia conference already taking place.
In the end, it’s pretty simple, the big media folks that figure out how to co-exist, to me an AND, more than an OR will be a thriving part of the community which they serve.
Lastly, I suggested to several folks that the next conference have an ‘unconference’ style, this WeMedia conference was not how I thought it was marketed (PDF) as an ‘audience’ driven conference. Several complained about the $1000 price tag, which is more of the element of a top down event.