Richard Binhammer On The Social Media Scene At Dell

05/20/2008

In prep for my 400 word page in Age of Conversation book #2 - Why Don't People Get It? I asked a couple of corporate "non suit" types who do get it (Tony Hsieh, ceo - Zappos and Richard Binhammer, corporate group communications - Dell) for their insights into how social media is supporting marketing/business strategies at their companies.

Girlfriends, Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan are swell guys but they are really holding tight to a 400 word limit so I could only include a bit of Tony's and Richard's feedback. Too much good information in those interviews with Tony and Richard not to share with y'all. Catch Tony's post on Diva Marketing about how he is using Twitter to support Zappo's corporate culture.

Sidebar: Ryan Barrett has little teases from many of the author's pages. Quite fun .. check it out!

For your reading pleasure .. I give you ..

Dell_logo_4Mr. Richard Binhammer Dell, Corporate Group Communications fondly know as Richardatdell

Toby/Diva Marketing: What influence has social media had on how you conduct business? How has participating in social media influenced Dell's internal processes and customer communications?

Richard Binhammer: I believe social media helps us:

1. Learn from conversations with customers every day. That has influenced internal processes as we have identified issues sooner than we might otherwise have, learned to respond faster and generally

2. Listen and be in touch…the fact that customers talking online are heard and their voices are now inside the halls and walls of Dell every day, even if we are not out there meeting face to face every day…it brings a customercentric focus inside the business

3. That also leads to connections and relationships…there is an intangible of connectedness and relationships with people online.

4. All of that adds up to being a better company by listening and being involved in conversation with our customers.”      

Toby/Diva Marketing: Does Dell have a system or process in place to respond to the concerns/complements from consumer generated mentions about the company? And to respond back to the blogger, tweeter, etc?

Richardatdell_computer_2 Richard Binhammer: Absolutely, and since early 2006 we have been responding to concerns, complements and other peoples’ perceptions of us as they express it online.   

The system is still evolving, and it’s not perfect.  Its tough to get a perfect search every day and so we miss some.  In addition, we don’t respond to everything being said about us.  I'm sure people have seen I dropped by because of mybloglog photo or ip address.

We make some judgment calls about whether we need to respond, or simply digest the perspectives being expressed or go away and act on the information, or perhaps, in some cases, especially media and aggregator sites our customers may  already be responding sort of on our behalf. And on those latter occasions I say WOW and thank you! ... our customers are standing up for us ... that’s better than me saying anything. So I shut up.

Just as social media tools and outlets are still evolving, so are we.  For example, you cant search Facebook and contact people like you can with blogs on the web, so in Facebook we set up Dell Embassy, a place for customers to reach us if they have issues and want to connect.

On Twitter, we have a group of Dell employees there, all ready to reach out and work with folks, which may be a little confusing but Twitter is all about people conversing and connecting, so how do you have a conversation with an inanimate object? 

I don’t know that any of this is the right or even final approach ... it’s the current approach

Toby/Diva Marketing: What advice would you give on how to incorporate social media and the feedback from social media into an organization?

Richard Binhammer: Roll up your sleeves ... search and get out there. 

Don’t be afraid and be prepared to make mistakes, learn from them (that’s OK and will be accepted)

Listen hard, learn, act and keep go/growing.

Enjoy!  Interacting with people who care enough about your business/company to write about you and say things about you is a great experience, offers valuable and important information/perceptions and are ultimately great connections and relationships.

Catch Richard blogging and tweeting! Yes,those are really Richard's fingers. Photo taken in Atlanta while we were chillin' drinking martinis after the AiMA meeting about social media.

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Comments

Excellent interview, Toby. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Gavin Heaton on May 20, 2008 9:19:02 PM

I agree! Great questions and answers. It's refreshing to see how a big company has embraced social media and is really trying hard to use this tool to communicate more effectively with their customers.

Excellent post!

Posted by: Nancy Arter on May 23, 2008 1:28:34 PM

Toby,

hey now....we said you could have 405 is you needed it! ;-}

Excellent insights and a good reminder that we don't have to have it all figured out before we wade into the water.

Drew

Posted by: Drew McLellan on May 26, 2008 3:59:39 PM

While I agree in principle to what Richard says it is important to note that Dell has more resources (time/personell) than a lot of small businesses do in order to utilize Social Media to engage customers in conversations and feedback. A good question would have been what ROI have you been able to measure from this type of program? How does a small business allocate precious resources?

Posted by: Steven on May 27, 2008 11:56:53 AM

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