Social Media, Content Marketing, and Dell

You hang around the world of content marketing long enough (two, three days, tops) and you’re sure to hear something about computer giant Dell. Dell is well known for being incredibly active in their content marketing efforts, particularly across various social media platforms.

With that in mind, I decided to take a look at Dell’s use of social media and their content across five platforms and break them down a bit for you as I see them. To be clear, I viewed these channels as a casual consumer might as opposed to someone with an extensive background. Check out what works and what doesn’t, and see what you can apply to your own content strategy (there are plenty of takeaways!).

#1: Google+

Say what you want about Google+ always living in Facebook’s shadow, but it’s been difficult for brands to ignore it lately. Dell is no exception.

Dell’s Google+ page is complete and attractive, and if you weren’t familiar with them, you could learn quite a bit just from this source, which is typically updated twice a day. This posting schedule helps to reduce noise, and the content also differs from what’s posted on Facebook (so there is value to adding them on both sites). In other words, Dell doesn’t use Google+ to broadcast.

And what kinds of content does Dell share on Google+? They’re linking to blog posts (their own and others’, although it should be said that most of the content is Dell-centric), as well as sharing videos and photo albums.

The number of comments that their posts receive aren’t by any means too overwhelming, so, at least on this channel, it’s pretty easy for them to respond and interact with their followers.

Takeaways:

  • Pace yourself. No need to broadcast everything you do. Give your audience a taste and let them come to you for more.
  • Recognize the importance of a complete profile and its position to provide more content (in this case, Dell’s photo albums and videos).

#2: Facebook

The first thing that struck me about the Dell Facebook page was that the majority of the posted content is about them, their products, and their services. To be honest, I’m still not sure how I feel about that. Yes, that will educate me on Dell’s products, but if there’s one thing we’ve hopefully learned about inbound marketing, it’s that you should also educate in a broader sense and mix up your content a bit.

All that aside, the account is updating two or three times a day here, as well. And again, the content is different from what is on Google+. In terms of content strategy, that’s a smart move – mixing it up in general and across channels. That helps to get repeat followers since they know they can benefit from following Dell in both places.

As you can probably imagine, there is a much greater volume of comments on the Facebook page. As you can probably also imagine (because they are the group most likely to post anywhere, certainly not just on Dell’s page), many of them are disgruntled customers. Dell can’t respond to every comment, but they have made a pretty public commitment to customer service through social media with their Dell Cares efforts. Their replies to these comments are always professional, even with the angriest customers, and though they can’t respond to each person individually on their Facebook page, they make an effort to get in touch with people who seem particularly frustrated.

Which makes me wonder: would it be beneficial for Dell to promote some content that might answer questions or ease the frustrations of those who are having similar issues with the products?

Takeaways:

  • Consider what you know about inbound marketing and then carefully weigh the pros and cons when it comes to lots of self-promotion as opposed to general, industry-wide education.
  • Pick and choose your battles. You will never make everyone happy, and you’re sure to have disgruntled customers at some point, too. Decide if you will take a public approach to customer service, as Dell has done, and what your policies for that will be.
  • Can you promote content that will take care of some of your basic customer service questions for you?

#3: Twitter

By far, Dell’s most frequently updated social channel is its @Dell Twitter account, which tweets numerous times throughout the day. The tweets are spaced out, though, so that you’re not getting hit with too much information at once (this also avoids the spammy feel that some corporate Twitter accounts can take on).

So the Twitter account does a great job of promoting and sharing content.

But again, the vast majority of tweets have the word ‘Dell’ in them. They’re sharing company news more than industry news. They’re promoting company education more than education about computers in general. I just don’t know how I feel about that. Every business is going to talk about themselves to some extent. That’s expected. But nearly every post seems like a bit much. Maybe it’s just me.

Takeaway:

  • Space your tweets out so as not to inundate your followers with content. Remember that they can only read one thing at a time, and if you send them too much at once, they’re going to miss most of it.

#4: Dell Website

What I notice immediately when I arrive on Dell’s website is that there’s some content segmentation, which I like a lot. I can tell them who I am and what my purposes are, and I’m shown the products that are most relevant to me.

Products, though. Not really much in the way of rich content. The specs are kind of dry.

Still, there’s quite a bit elsewhere on Dell’s site. You need to scroll to the menus at the bottom of the screen, but when you do, there’s a variety of content there for you, including blogs, news releases, and other community initiatives.

While I understand that the product is what’s front and center here (and rightfully so), I would like to see the blog a bit more prominently featured. That was the first thing I looked for, and it took me too long to find it. A blog is such an important piece of a content strategy, and it should be centrally located.

Takeaways:

  • Content segmentation is a good way to make it simple for your visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for. Dell’s product/content segmentation is featured front and center upon arriving at the page, so it’s easy to get started.
  • If you’re serious about content marketing, you’ve probably spent a lot of time on your blog. If you have (and Dell has), you want people to read it. If they’re not reading, make sure it’s not buried somewhere on your site, and consider featuring it a bit more prominently on your site.

#5: Direct2Dell (Blog)

Dell’s blog is updated regularly throughout the week by a team of bloggers. I was happy to see that there were posts that weren’t solely about Dell products (though, to note, every post did make mention of the company itself in some capacity)

There are weekly news recaps that will fill you in on all of the big “Dell in the news” moments. I didn’t read those, honestly, because I didn’t feel like there was anything at stake for me. There was a whitepaper for download, though, which I thought was great – a nice mix of content.

I’ve got to be honest here, though. I felt a little frustrated by the posts that were devoted to specific  products. When I read them, I saw a lot of technical information that I didn’t understand, but the message was that I should be impressed anyway and buy that product. I want to understand though, because I want to make an informed purchase. I want to be educated about different technologies. What I wanted to see there was a post or two about what all of that technical jargon means (because Dell certainly isn’t the only computer company using this jargon on its site)

They have the opportunity to educate visitors about computers and make them understand what all those specs mean and what I should be looking for when buying. And the best part is that they can do that for as many different types of buyers as they want to imagine. There are so many content possibilities if a more general education is considered.

Takeaways:

  • Update regularly. This helps the search engines to show you some love, and it also helps to increase your traffic.
  • Keep in mind that while there are people who will be genuinely interested in your company news, there are going to be a lot of people who are not. Provide something for those people too. Seek to meet the needs of all of your visitors, regardless of their purpose or place in the funnel. Don’t feel the need to make the hard sell at every turn; instead, let the content speak for itself. That’s the key to content marketing.
  • Design some content with user questions in mind. How can you provide a solution to their troubles through a rich variety of content?

My Take:

I want to make it clear that, as the writer of this piece, these are, of course, my assessments. That being said, I think that Dell does a pretty awesome job with the social media side of content marketing. They’ve got a strong presence with various updates, and they’re interacting with their followers on a regular basis. That’s impressive for a company of that size and stature. I’d heard all the talk about Dell’s excellent use of social media, and, at least in my mind, they’ve absolutely lived up to that.

Unfortunately, the content itself left me feeling underwhelmed. On one hand, this might not be a big deal to them. Ion Interactive just released a case study  in which they note that Dell’s conversions (using LiveBall) are up 300%, so clearly they’re doing something very right.

On the other hand, on a personal level as a consumer, I find it kind of off-putting to feel like I’m constantly being sold to, especially when they have the opportunity to sell to me without selling. It seems as though they’re missing an enormous opportunity to educate – computers will always be something that will have people baffled.

I really liked the posts Dell did for Earth Day because they weren’t as product-specific and were therefore easier to relate to. Dell has shown me that they’re capable of a rich variety of content. I would just really like to see more of it.

Of course, that’s just my take. Maybe you’ve got it differently?

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Renee is a writer currently living in Central Pennsylvania (whatever you've heard is probably true). In addition to writing for CEM, she serves as the Managing Editor for Business 2 Community and pursues her dream of once again renting her own apartment (preferably in Philadelphia), if only to house her ever-growing collection of books. She received a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MA in English from George Mason. She's still waiting for someone to write a song about her life so she can just quote the lyrics for her author bios. Catch up with her on Twitter , LinkedIn, or reneedecoskey.com.

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