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Social Media Marketing at Dell: An Interview With Rishi Dave


I recently had the honor of meeting Rishi Dave, executive director of online marketing for Dell’s Public and Large Enterprise Business Unit, and touring the Dell Social Media Listening Command Center. (It was very cool!) I asked Rishi if I could interview him for my column and to my delight he said yes! So in this two-part column, you can get some insights on a topic I feel gets far too little coverage – tech/B2B social media marketing. However, please know that Rishi’s insight is universal and of course can be applied to any social media marketing effort.

HG: Who are you and what do you do?

rishi-daveRD: I’m the executive director of online marketing for Dell’s Public and Large Enterprise Business Unit. In this role, my global responsibility is to implement public and large enterprise marketing strategies for Dell.com, social media, communities, and Dell’s Premier portal. Prior to this, I drove Dell’s global web analytics strategy and worked on Dell’s CEO level strategy as part of Dell’s Corporate Strategy group. I’ve spent the vast majority of my career in the technology industry with marketing, business development, and consulting roles in startups to large corporations such as Bain & Company and eBay.

HG: How does social media marketing for B2B differ from B2C?

RD: B2B social media brings in two dimensions not in B2C. Namely, B2B social media focuses on orchestrating connections with multiple decision makers at a single company and working with them through a multi-step sales process. It also involves integrating social marketing efforts with a direct sales force and their account planning and execution processes. In order to succeed in B2B social media, companies must have the ability to create and amplify thought leadership content on a regular basis to keep high-level decision makers engaged and conversing on their brand’s differentiated value. The great thing about B2B social media is that single successful interaction with a single person who influences a multi-million dollar deal can often justify social media investments.

I think a great example of how we identified and targeted this market lies within Dell’s Public and Large Enterprise business. After years of driving technology standardization through its direct model, Dell’s Public and Large Enterprise business (which focuses on servicing public and large, corporate customers) had a strong reputation for providing affordable hardware. Dell realized in 2009 that we needed to revitalize the brand and increase awareness of Dell’s solutions capabilities. Dell learned that these customers valued a trusted advisor relationship, and launched the Dell Tech Center. This was an online community meant for customers who were primarily IT users, and gave them the opportunity to interface directly with Dell enterprise technologists, product developers, members of the CTO’s office, and each other to address their current trends and even personal, organizational needs.

HG: What are some of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of Dell’s social media approach and policies?

RD: Here are seven items:

  1. Start with your goals and strategies overall.
  2. Develop a content strategy to support your goals.
  3. Identify and listen to existing conversations.
    • At Dell, we have a Social Media Ground Control Center – a global operational hub that monitors some 22,000 online mentions – both posts and tweets – about Dell every day. This information is based on topics, sentiment, share of voice, geography, and trends. The goal is to track and understand the largest possible number of conversations, good and bad, across the web. Using this information, we are able to quickly answer customer questions, address their concerns, build better products, and improve the overall customer experience.
  4. Empower and encourage your internal organizations to participate.
    • At Dell, we have comprehensive social media training after which employees are encouraged to engage with customers in social media.
  5. Create and cultivate conversations and communities where your customers and employees are.
  6. Incent participants to create, and share great content.
  7. Measure your success and adjust your strategy.

HG: Are there any hard and fast social media do’s and don’ts (rules) you tell your team to follow?

RD: Sure:

  • Empowerment is key! With the right organizational design and training, employees can feel empowered, leading to increased contribution to social media efforts. For example, through a robust training program, Dell has made an investment in turning Dell employees at every level into frontline social marketers who engage in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, and more on the company’s behalf. The basic mantra that Dell uses is this: control what you categorically need to control, then free the rest. Some good examples of control mechanisms are simple; you need training, clear corporate policies, and centralized governance. For more information and clear guidance, you can visit www.dell.com/SocialMediaPolicy.
  • Some key rules:
    • Be authentic and don’t try to be something you are not.
    • Be completely transparent about who you are and the fact that you are a representative of Dell.

HG: How do you integrate what you do on the social media front with Dell’s more traditional advertising and marketing? Can you give specific examples?

RD: Sure:

  • At Dell, we use social media as a platform to support our campaigns – it’s hard to imagine an effort that doesn’t have a social media element to it. In this day and age, traditional and social media can be extremely complementary to each other when used correctly. One simple way of ensuring this integration is to add this element of social media into your collaboration and communication planning and roadmaps.
  • A few weeks ago, Dell announced Dell World, it’s first ever customer event. Promotion for this event goes beyond just customer invites, press releases, and a website. We are using social media like Twitter and Google+ to get the word out to our customers and invite them to join (follow us at #DellWorld). At the event itself, we will have social elements integrated with the physical event.
  • Dell launched an Efficient Enterprise campaign, and in support of this was the newly developed website, EnterpriseEfficiency.com. This microsite featured daily, topical blogs written by InformationWeek editors and writers as well as Dell executives. Building this community of people who subscribe has enabled Dell to gain significant insights into a specific group of users.

A special thanks to Rishi for being so generous with his time to give us all this information! In my next column, we will see how Rishi answers these questions:

  • How do you encourage people to engage in actions that benefit Dell (follow, fan, share, click, buy, etc.)?
  • How do you think social media marketing drives revenue or saves money for Dell?
  • How do you measure the success of your social media marketing – what are some of your main metrics/KPIs?
  • Are there any tips you can give our readers that would add to the success of their social media programs?
  • Is there anything you would like to add about social media that has not been covered in my questions?

Of course, please comment and share this column to spread Rishi’s wisdom!

If you want to hear more from Rishi you can follow him on Twitter @rishiatdell or check out his blog at www.rishidave.com.

This article originally appeared on ClickZ.

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