Wednesday, September 8, 2010

SERIES: Social Media Lessons for Brand Marketers

The power of social media lies in the fact that everyone can contribute, converse and connect over something they're passionate about. Whether it be a cause, product, brand or celebrity, there are devoted fans who relentlessly advocate and promote their passions. In the eyes of brand marketers, this represents untapped potential that can help raise brand loyalty and generate a devoted legion of fans. At the same time, it's also a risk that brand marketers must be willing to take, as stepping into social media is not a simple task.

There are many different ways brand marketers can use social media, and depending on their tools and approach, many can succeed. In this series of articles, I’ll explore some of the successful (and not so successful) cases and what brand marketers can learn from them. As an introduction to this series, we’ll have a look at Dell Computers, who has over the course of two years, netted $6.5million dollars in profit via social media.

As one of the largest technology corporations in the world, Dell also happens to be one of the most active in social media. Its Dell Community features a unique mixture of social media that ousts its rivals in both its breath and quality. For example, the community has a range of blogs that reflects its business segments and key channels; this includes blogs that specially discuss education and enterprise IT. The range of such blogs ensures that Dell brings news, information and discussion that cater specifically to target audiences, and with this definite structure of blogs, it also means that conversations can be easily managed. In the eyes of brand marketers, this makes managing a brand easier, since the blogs thus act as direct channels to key audiences.

In a similar fashion, Dell organizes its Twitter channel so that there is a clear structure to marketing and generating conversations surrounding their brand and products. In total, Dell has over 35 different Twitter accounts, each reflecting a different brand and marketing purpose. For some, the purpose is to act as a channel to market products, such as @Biz_Dell_AU, which talk to business owners and provides updates on sales and discounts. On the other hand, there are Twitter accounts which are more community-based, like @Dell_Insights which communicate latest news and information on the technology sector. To a brand marketer, these accounts demonstrate how Dell has intentionally broken down its branding strategy so each Twitter account reflects how Dell wishes to be perceived by certain audiences. In the Twitter channels targeted to small businesses, Dell is seen as the brand that provides the latest tips and news for business owners; whilst for those targeted to technology professionals, Dell is seen as a thought leader and filter of quality technology news and information.

When we see the bigger picture, it's clear that Dell’s use of social media reflects its size and resources. Naturally, not all companies will be able to manage numerous Twitter accounts and blogs. However, in this particular case, the important lesson for brand marketers is to understand the underlying strategic approaches to branding using social media. What it also demonstrates is that social media is overall, an extension of Dell's existing brand marketing strategies. It's incredible ROI, however illustrates how social media can help raise not only brand profile, but ultimately, company revenues.

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