Dell has taken a beating in the marketplace (both the commercial marketplace and the reputation marketplace) over the past few years. When founder Michael Dell took the reins again, you had to wonder whether his presence back in the CEO chair would really mean something, or would Dell slip into permanent stall mode like so many PC makers of the past (remember Gateway?).
So it's notable that Dell has distinguished itself among consumer electronics companies for embracing the capabilities of web 2.0 to engage with customers and influencers. According to the excellent new book "Groundswell," by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, Dell used a PR crisis created by a blogger to jump-start its participation in social media, by 2006 was monitoring blog posts on the company, proactively seeking out problems and responding to posts, if necessary reaching out to users with technical support.
That effort has expanded to include sensing problems by monitoring Twitter (as well as using Twitter to communicate with end-users and others).
Today's Wall Street Journal points out that Dell has mastered the art of energizing the "groundswell" to build publicity for its products:
Dell Inc. hit a viral-PR home run last week when photos of a not-yet-released computer -- a candy-red miniature laptop -- swept across the Internet, creating excitement in advance of the release.
The buzz wasn't an accident: It was the payoff from a year-long effort by Dell to engage more directly with bloggers and others who write about the company online....
Engaging with blogs isn't just a defensive move. It has also changed the way the company promotes its products. Chief Executive Michael Dell brought the buzz-generating candy-red computer to The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference with the goal of showing it off to some of the bloggers in attendance.
A writer from Gizmodo, a popular gadget blog, saw the new computer and snapped a few pictures, which he posted on the Internet. The company then posted some official pictures on its own blog, and the story took on a life of its own. Dell's blog post says Gizmodo "caught" Michael Dell with the new computer.
I own a Dell computer, a beige minitower from the old days. It's a nice, boring computer. Dell's efforts in web 2.0, however, are the opposite of boring.
Is your marketing department confused about web 2.0? ("Groundswell")
Twitter and "Every Minute Accounted For"
Companies stall because they don't listen to customers
social media, information technology, web2.0, marketing, blogging, communication, Wall Street Journal