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Direct2Dell Turns 2

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Wow… it's been another year already. Lots has happened on the blog front since this time last year: we launched in Norwegian and Japanese. Beyond languages, we've also introduced seven new blogs as well: an Investor Relations blog, ReGeneration.org, Cloud Computing, Inside IT, Small Business, the Consumer blog, and the Dell Channel blog.  Earlier in February last year, we introduced accepted solutions in the Dell Community Forum and since that time, our community has volunteered over 8,500 of them.

To better support some of these new sites, several months ago we combined what used to be the blog outreach team and the Dell Community Forum to be part of our communications organization. Last night, I blogged that Dell employees worldwide can access many social media sites through the Dell firewall. Dwelling on past accomplishments is one thing… but in my view, it's more important to talk about the future. Put simply, I think the most important work we'll do remains ahead of us.

Most people know that we started monitoring the blogosphere in 2006 a few months before we launched the blog. I've said on many occasions that listening was the foundation for Direct2Dell. We need to keep it that way, and that's a more challenging thing these days since there are more places for our customers to have conversations about Dell. It's true on two fronts: both on our own expanding list of properties and in more types of sites outside of Dell. This recent story in the Boston Globe touches on a lot of it. Besides blogs and forums, more customers are using sites like Twitter and Friendfeed. We're also seeing discussions about Dell products in the comment threads like this one on Flickr or in YouTube.

Regardless of where the conversations occur, we have to remain focused on supporting our customers and connecting them to the conversations that are important or helpful to them. This concept is critical to all of our social media efforts, and I know we need to improve in this area.

How are we going to do that moving forward? Integrating our social media properties is the first big step. Dig a little deeper and that means shifting from a tool-based focus like we have now to a topic-based one. I talked a bit about what this means at Blog Potomac last month. Some of our customers know exactly what systems they own down to the brand and model name, but there's a lot who don't. A topic-based navigation model should help those customers who may not remember they have Inspiron 530—they can start with a desktop and work their way in. Lots more to discuss as this evolves. At this point, I can say that lots of folks within Dell are working to combine Direct2Dell, the Dell Community Forum and wikis onto a single platform.

Two years in, I think we've done a decent job reaching the tech-savvy customers who regularly interact on blogs or forums.  But there's a lot more of our customers who don't understand the difference between blogs, forums and wikis, and frankly, they shouldn't have to. Integrating these tools is a big undertaking and there's much work for us left to do on this front.

Thanks to our customers and to all the people at Dell who continue to support our social media efforts on a daily basis. Just like last year, it seems like we're just scratching the surface of what's possible.

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