It was great to have Rishi Dave, Executive Director of Online Marketing for Large Enterprise and Public (B2B) at Dell with us for the final session of the conference. Not exactly the best speaking spot of the two days which is why it needs to be a dynamic and inspirational presenter that ends the conference experience - and Rishi did not disappoint.
Being in the "virtual era" as we are today, the way in which companies do business has to transform to meet the new demands. And the demands on virtual experience are not just from the younger generations. Did you know that the average age of the social-networker is 31? And that the average social-gamer is a 43 year old woman called Beryl? (That's a joke about the name - but the age and gender is correct.) And another type of network in the virtual world is the dating network - 12.5% of all couples in the US who got married in 2010 met online.
Customer opinion has moved to be a driving force in this environment. Companies cannot hide from their customers, or their customers feedback and views. Today’s audience of "influencers" is much broader - it's not just about advertising and media spend. It’s the power of the individual. We can all reach thousands of people with our opinions through the communication channels available today. FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace... What we chose to communicate can reach a world of potential purchasers online.
Dell are working to stay ahead of the curve. Bitten by social media in the past, they are not going to be found sleeping on the job. They work on staying connected with their customers in a number of different ways.
- Dell’s "Ideastorm" website - where customers can share ideas on how Dell can improve. More than just a virtual suggestion box it allows the company to listen in a structured and innovative way
- Social Media Command Centre - akin to something from NASA. Approximately 22,000 online mentions are tracked every day.
- Driving peer to peer support through forums where ideas and resolutions are shared and validated by the best engineers
- Top rank electronics bods - working on specific problems even for those contacts who are not yet customers
And what makes a rock star at Dell? Someone who goes the extra mile to support their customers - and who visiting clients ask to meet when they come to Dell HQ.
Sometimes I wonder about the real impact of social media. But looking at the tweeting, blogging, facebooking and other virtual noise that this conference alone has created - I am pretty sure that we will continue to see the impact grow.