Twitter drives $6.5m global revenue for Dell, company plans to embrace the social web

delllogo News from computer maker Dell that attracted a lot of attention in the summer was their announcement that one Twitter account in the USA, the @DellOutlet handle, was responsible for driving over $3 million in sales.

Today comes more such news from Dell on what Twitter is doing for the company, this time on a deeper and global scale:

[…] Today it’s not just Dell Outlet having success connecting with customers on Twitter. In total, Dell’s global reach on Twitter has resulted in more than $6.5 million in revenue. In fact our Brazilian and Canadian accounts are growing rapidly too – and it was Canadian tweeters who asked to make sure Dell Canada came online to Twitter. Dell Canada responded because the team heard our customers. In less than a year, @DellnoBrasil has already generated nearly $800,000 in product revenues. Similarly, @DellHomeSalesCA has surpassed $150,000 and is increasing at notable pace.

If you want a benchmark on what’s genuinely possible with Twitter, look no further than Dell.

While the announcement of this financial milestone might get lots of headlines (like this post’s), it isn’t the most interesting news from Dell today.

What’s especially interesting is the prime focus in Lionel Menchaca’s post on Dell’s corporate blog that outlines a new strategy Dell is executing that’s about the company extending its presence in an integrated manner across the social web:

[…] Today, as more and more customers are embracing social media, our thinking about Dell and community has evolved beyond simply driving customers to our own sites to connecting those conversations where they happen on the web (and in the real world too). If you look at our aggregate presence on social media networks plus our own community sites, our worldwide community has grown to more than 3.5 million people across the social web, including places like Twitter, Facebook, Direct2Dell and IdeaStorm. That’s roughly a fan base the size of the population of Chicago. And at this stage is only a small part of the overall 2 billion contacts we have with customers worldwide every year via phone, e-mail, etc.

Read Lionel’s post for the details of how he sees Dell’s strategic approach to building closer and more effective connections with customers and others, including businesses within the Dell organization itself.

I imagine some observers will think that $6.5 million is pretty small beer for a company the size of Dell (annual revenue of $61 billion). I can already see the “Where’s the ROI?” comments, tweets and posts.

I would argue that this is a work in progress so you can’t yet do a final ROI calculus. In any event, what are you measuring?

Far more important, in my view, is seeing what a large organization like Dell is doing overall with social media, and how committed they are to engage in a long-term activity.

So the last word is from Lionel Menchaca:

[…] For Dell (or any company for that matter), isolated social media efforts won’t lead to long-term success in this space. Our long-term success depends on how well we execute on the key strategy points I outlined earlier in this post. My belief in the promise that social media brings combined with Dell’s commitment to our long-term social media strategy is why I continue to do this job.

The bold is my emphasis. We need more examples like Dell.

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. Rob Safuto

    The feel good story of the century! Alas, beware companies that beat their chests about “revenue”. Success for companies is determined more by profit and customer satisfaction than revenue. I’ve been a Dell customer for a decade and have recently been a bit disappointed with them. Dell has issues that can’t be fixed with increased interaction via social media. I hope that they are taking actions to fix those issues because good social media can’t save companies that fail to properly execute core business functions.

      • Paul Seaman

        Rob is right, Neville. Dell is hanging on rather than setting the pace – it is not an innovator, just a me-too. It is struggling. Dell ran into a dead with its myopic everything to the internet marketing strategy. It has now abandoned it for Wal-Mart, the high St and the traditional channel. But the market has shifted meantime and it no longer hungers for what Dell has to offer (watch the cloud). Innovation is a great thing, and little is sustainable on the Web and in IT – even IBM nearly bled to death on that truism once. But Dell looks like being nowhere near as robust. Its noise around its business on Twitter is a sign of weakness, not strength.

        • neville

          Rob has an opinion, Paul, with which I have part agreement as I noted in my comment. As for yours on Wal-Mart, mypopia, etc, I guess you know I don’t see it your way at all – my post makes my opinion clear.

    • Erika

      Ditto – I’ve been trying for days to get help through Dell and have encounter every problem possible! It is horrible.

  2. Ashwani

    This is a very interesting piece of news. Twitter has an exceptional power not only to drive sales but also for companies to come in close contact with its customers.

  3. nguyen

    Twitter drives $6.5m global revenue for Dell, company plans to embrace the social web | [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. Paul Seaman

    There is something of the mentality of the loser in making a big deal of this trifle. Dell’s total reliance on the internet proved to be a dead end – that’s why today you can buy Dell products at Wal-Mart. Moreover, the big loser GM loves SM, while today’s leading success stories such as Apple, Bloomberg and Ryanair do not give social media the time of day. Success in the marketplace equals real engagement with consumers through innovation, through delivering what audiences want (that’s not necessarily the same thing as what they say they want). I’m all for SM, but let’s keep it real.

    • neville

      What a disapppointing comment, Paul, expected better from you. You continue to make generalisms like “Dell’s total reliance on the internet” without substantiation. And “mentality of the loser”? Boy, you do have a very broad paintbrush!

      Dell is capable of defending its position if they wish to. All I’d add here is thank goodness for people like Lionel Menchaca in companies like Dell who are exploring aspects of organization communication and sharing their experiences that help others see what’s possible.

      More power to them.

  5. Paul Seaman

    Neville, the go to market strategy of Dell used to be almost entirely focused on the going direct via the internet; in contrast to HP and Compaq which both favoured a mixed model, The industry analysts were once merciless in praising Dell for its focus and in criticizing Compaq and HP for their mixed wishy washy approach. But Dell ran into a dead end and as a consequence it changed course dramatically. Today its go to market strategy is me-too. However, Dell is still behind the curve; it is still more Compaq (which no longer exists) than it is HP or IBM. Moreover, the cloud looms.

    • neville

      In the context of my post, I have little interest in Dell’s broad go-to-market strategy, whatever it might be. My interest is in what I see them doing in specific areas with social media and where it fits from a strategy viewpoint, as this post outlines.

      I suggest you take your points directly to Dell, see what they have to say. You could also take a look at this video in which Andy Lark, Dell’s VP of global marketing, explains how he sees the strategic value of social media –

  6. LionelatDell

    @Paul Seaman… I think both you and @Rob make some fair points.

    I’ll say this about the discussion about revenue in Twitter: we realize it’s not the only measure that matters. That said, it’s one tangible yardstick that means something to people at this early stage of social media ROI.

    I agree that social media isn’t going to save a company that doesn’t compete well in the broader business landscape. I get that all the social media success in the world won’t matter if Dell doesn’t make products and services that our customers want to buy. That said, while we are in the midst of evolving and building on some of the business fundamentals from our past (moving from direct only to direct via the web + direct + retail + resellers is one example), I’ll remind you that Dell has remained in a pretty strong financial position.

    T o me, it’s not about putting blind faith into social media ideals in the hopes that it wil lead to better business performance. It is about making connections to customers (through social media and a number of other methods) that ultimately result in better products and services.

    Social media is a tool, not the only tool. That said, I see huge value in integrating social media into how we do business with customers. This recent update is a small example of that.

    Lionel Menchaca

  7. Craig McGill

    One thing I’ve been dying to know: how do they know it comes from Twitter? Is it measuring the sales as coming from Twitter links? Is it Twitter-only discounts?

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