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19/08/2008

Dell: social media most important element of marketing

If you are working with social media and need a boost today, need a pick-me-up, a morale booster make sure that the next thing that you do is watch this video from Uberpulse.

It's an interview with Andy Lark, Vice President Global Marketing at Dell.

And you're as excited as I am by what Andy Lark says in it then hang around for a few moments, I've a couple of things I'd like to say (before I run the video again with a broad grin on my face). First up the headline quote from the interview:

“The social media stuff is probably the most important we do today, from a marketing stand point. The other elements of marketing mix has sort of become more and more transactional and more and more tactical in nature. Social media stuff is much more strategic… Use social media to power the fundamental of the business. That’s what we’re focused on”.

Understanding social media and its significance brings a point of view which changes everything about how marketing - and wider business - strategy is conducted.

Social media is key to developing a native digital strategy, that is an approach to marketing that is borne out of the the way that open networks on the web work as a medium, as a place with dynamics, possibilities that are utterly different to the channel media of print and broadcast.

So much digital strategy that I've seen is non-native, is imported, models and approaches borrowed from advertising or mass media. This kind of strategy begins with the wrong values, a channel media world view, that means that it will always be still born. They shift from strategy about media doing things to people, to "transmedia narratives" which still means media doing things to people, just online as well.

There are the same flaws in the idea of 360-degree or multiplatform commissioning by broadcasters or traditional media - so often what is meant by these phrases is that digital is the bolt-on to the legacy channel media approach of conceiving, designing, creating and then measuring the impact of content.

It's why we always return to our three values as a starting point and as reference points throughout a campaign: understand your networks, be useful to your networks, be live in your networks.

Social media gives us a perspective on the web that shows as it really is: a human network, massively complex, always shifting and evolving. It's not a machine.

These are raw thoughts, in need of crafting, and shaping - so let me finish this post with some more articulate and concise points/quotes from Andy's interview:

  • "[social media] changes everything"
  • "The risks and the downside are really insignificant when compared to the rewards and the upside."
  • He notes that Dell has taken flak from journalists for holding NDA briefings with a thousand customers, one of whom may then submit the screenshots to Engadget.
  • The vast majority of Dell's marketing will be online in future.
  • Check out the crowdsourced creative for advertising around Dell's Regeneration.org - this is the sort of thing that has gone badly for other brands so often, but Dell's learnt so much about social media (see the Chevvy Tahoe story for the classic example of this) and earned the right to connect in this communities (by understanding, being useful and being live in them). This started as a Facebook group that Andy says they expected to be small but really took off.
  • Andy says he sees BBC reporters as being from a organsiation that is adapting well to social web, illustrated by the fact that the first question he often gets from a BBC reporter is: "Can I podcast this?"

I am massively impressed by both Dell's execution and its strategic thinking in this area. The team there has really gone beyond understanding the tactical opportunities that social media might offer and are realising its potential to inform the company's strategy.

: : Via Strive PR's blog. Thanks a lot, Sherrilyne...

Comments

Hi,

Your blog is very informative n helpful about Social Media Optimization .. thanks…..keep it up.
www.seostep.net.

Thanks for the kind words. Completely forgot I did this interview...

You're very welcome, Andy. Thanks for popping by.

Anthony,

brillaint video and thanks for finding and sharing it. I spoke at lenght to a number of Dell people for the book - http://www.sixtysecondview.com/?p=734 - about their journey from zero to hero but managhed to miss Andy. this certainly fills in the gaps. The key quote we got from Michael Dell was that social media means that "the customer is always walking the halls at Dell". This fleshes that out brilliantly.

Very much looking forward to reading Crowd Surfing, David - thanks for the link.

You'll have to forgive me, but my sinister-radar beeped when Andy said that the regional journalists "don't get it" when they turn up with a notepad and pen. "The content is in what I'm giving them, not the translation of it."

I don't entirely buy that line. I would suggest that part of the value of journalists is in analysing and questioning the corporate line, not broadcasting it verbatim. Dell can buy advertising to do that.

And this remains a question mark over the wonders of disintermediation and social media. On the one hand, there's clearly lots companies can learn about their customers and their own products and services. On the other, taking the media out of the loop can also mean less scepticism, questioning and analysis. Brands will attempt the latter course, without question.

No forgiveness required, Mr D: that's a very interesting perspective.

I took it as meaning that one type of journalists were missing opportunities to make mroe of the content opportunities. I'm sure he didn't mean that critique / analysis should be absent from the process... though it might sound that way.

Thank you for the information regarding the elusive and sometimes obscure world of SMO .

I was not aware Dell had the largest ecommerce site.

Chris

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