Learning from Dell’s experiment with Twitter

Dell certainly pushed the envelope yesterday in a press conference to launch a new line of Latitude laptop computers.

The event took place in San Francisco, linked to media events in London and New Delhi, and with people online following the live webcast – and commenting and asking questions in real time via Twitter.

There’s plenty of reporting and commentary already about the new Latitudes as well as a detailed post on Direct2Dell; what I’d like to focus on in this post are some initial impressions of the press event and especially the use of Twitter.

The press event I followed live via the webcast in the early evening UK time was the kind of professionally-done event you’d expect from a company like Dell, with plenty of smart communicators and marketers involved.

Andy Lark, Dell’s VP Global Marketing, led the event with a scene-setting presentation that introduced Dell’s concept of the digital nomad, key to the positioning and marketing message for the new Latitudes, and announced a new but related presence on the web: DigitalNomads.com. (I have a few thoughts about this for another post at another time or, more likely, a discussion topic in the next FIR.)

Then followed Jeff Clarke, SVP and GM Dell Business Products Group, who went into the detail about the new Latitudes. (Up to 19 hours battery life, backlit keyboards, always-on USB ports and Dell Latitude ON are some of the product features that have stuck in my mind.)

Both Andy’s and Jeff’s presentations are available on Slideshare.

Right from the start of the event, Twitter was a hotbed of activity. Digital_Nomads, the Twitter account Dell had set up for this event and managed by three of Dell’s community team, fielded questions and comments coming thick and fast throughout both presentations, right up until the press conference webcast ended after about 45 minutes.

I found the most effective way to follow all discussion on Twitter was via Twitter Search, shown in the screenshot above.

In my browser, I could see every tweet marked with ‘@Digital_Nomads’ in real time, literally as tweets were posted as the search service constantly pushed out updates to the browser almost instantly.

This made it easy to quickly spot comments or questions you might want to reply to, as your focus was on just this conversation. So even though I made my own tweets and replies via Twhirl, I could zero in on the Dell conversation in the browser without too much distraction.

Overall, I think including Twitter in an event like this is a very good idea as it enables both the event hosts as well as the people connected to the event wherever they are – whether physically there but especially connected remotely over the net – to be part of that event in the fullest sense, interacting with others wherever they happen to be, and so contribute to the overall conversation.

I’m keen to know Dell’s thoughts about this experiment which I expect they’ll post on Direct2Dell.

I have just two suggestions for Dell:

  1. Next time (and I’m sure there will be a next time), create and publicize a hashtag or other Twitter search-friendly keyword that would make it simpler for people to tag every tweet rather than use the Twitter ID as the tag: that’s a bit unnatural as well as presenting some difficulty when you want to see only conversations relating to a specific event like this one.
  2. When the webcast presentations end and the Q&A starts at the event location, why not keep the webcast going so folk connected to you on Twitter can be part of that too? That’s the only time I saw some critical tweets during yesterday’s event as others felt as disappointed as I did. Or maybe it’s about setting expectations: I had expected everything to be in the webcast, not just the formal presentations.

But as I mentioned, I think the overall event yesterday was very well done and a great example of integrating communication channels, embracing the now-traditional (event and webcast) with the new (Twitter).

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Lionel Menchaca

    Neville: Thanks for the post and glad you could join us for the event.

    You’re right… I will be blogging about it soon, and I definitely agree with your suggestions. #1 is easy to fix and we’ll address #2 the next time around.

    Off to bed now, I swear :)

    Thanks again,

    Lionel Menchaca
    Chief Blogger, Dell Inc.

  2. neville

    Thanks, Lionel, it was a thrill being part of a great experiment.

    By my reckoning it’s now about 3am where you are. Sleep? Why not keep going :-D

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Direct2Dell.

  3. Brendan Cooper

    I think it’s very interesting that Dell has ‘closed the circle’, having elicited feedback from its core audiences through IdeaStorm and Direct2Dell, acted upon it, then presented back to those same audiences while encouraging interaction.

    Since the webcast I’ve noticed that I’m now also being followed by Digital Nomads, which is very slick – they now have a core set of Twitters to follow and, from that, other social media they can monitor such as the Twitterers’ blogs etc

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