Tag Archives: Jeff Jarvis

“Dell Hell Freezes Over: A Great Example of Turning Lemons into Lemonade”

Last week, BuzzMachine‘s Jeff Jarvis wrote an article in BusinessWeek discussing Dell’s reversal from social media nightmare to social media maven. It’s been a pretty amazing adventure and, to me, it feels like the last chapter has finally been writtern. Let’s take a look at a few of the practices Dell has put into place to turn around its online image.

[For the full “Dell Hell” archives in reverse chronological order, click here.]

It all started on June 21st, 2005, when Jeff published a post entitled “Dell Lies. Dell Sucks.” To Jeff’s surprise, he amassed hundred of sympathetic comments and thousands(?) of trackbacks. Not necessarily a good form of publicity, but Dell’s “look, but don’t touch” policy didn’t respond to bloggers.

This interview with a Dell spokesperson from 2005 really represents the old notion of one-sided communication that still exists in most big companies today. Houston Chronicle Tech Blogger Dwight Silverman caught the contradiction:

“With our direct model, we feel like we already have a good, two-way communications channel with our customers,” Davis said.

Of course, it depends on what you do with the incoming communication. A two-way conversation only has value if you take action on the problems you’re hearing about.

Finally, Davis asked an interesting question: Did I know of any companies that do actively go out and respond to blog and forum postings?

In 2005, it was rare. Today, the idea of corporate blogs is not so innovative, but companies still have a hard time with blogger/community relations.

In April of 2006, Dell reached out to disgruntled bloggers in an effort to resolve their issues. In July 2006, Dell launched its Direct2Dell blog. These words from a post in November of 2006 on the Dell blog starkly contrast the above comments:

Every day, we receive reports from a search string in Technorati and other blog search engines, and we meticulously analyze the results. When we find someone who has an unresolved issue with their Dell computer or our services, we reach out to offer assistance.

Ok, great, a corporate blog and customer service people who listen. Where’s the innovation? Well, it gets better. Last April, Dell launched the IdeamStorm community.

IdeaStorm allows users to make suggestions and then vote (in a digg like manner) whether to “promote” or “delete” an idea. But this voting isn’t hollow. Dell then provides results, closing the loop with consumers by informing them what user-initiated ideas have been executed and what suggested items are forthcoming. One major result of the IdeaStorm community was the decision to package Linux on consumer desktops and laptops. I know of few companies that allow such active consumer input.

The biggest success, to me, was a change in corporate thinking. Look at these words from CEO Michael Dell:

“These conversations are going to occur whether you like it or not, O.K.? Well, do you want to be part of that or not? My argument is you absolutely do. You can learn from that. You can improve your reaction time. And you can be a better company by listening and being involved in that conversation.”

Yup, that pretty much sums it up. The conversation is going on without you. People are tired of not having a voice. Now that they have quick and easy tools through which they communicate, they are gonna make their own messages. Isn’t it better to be a part of that discussion and perhaps steer it, rather than let it explode into a “Dell Hell”-type wildfire?

Lessons learned:

  • Read and Respond
    • Know what is being said and thoughtfully reply in a timely manner, especially to complaints
  • Talk to your customers as a real person speaking to other real people
    • It might not hurt to have a full-time blogger-relations person
  • Create a forum through which customer’s can provide idea/feedback
    • They are gonna do it somewhere, why not on your site?
  • Allow customers to vote on feedback
    • Collaboration and democracy increase loyalty
  • Report on results that come from feedback
    • Show them their voice has been heard and that their input is utilized

In the future, Dell plans on creating wikis that users can edit together [not sure if these are more techinical, knowledge-base type wikis or more customer-comments style wikis, both will be interesting to watch]. I’d also love to see a page that aggregates everything that is being said about Dell in the blogosphere. Maybe it could be tagged and then quickly sorted so that customers could see the full-spectrum of the discussion.

What do you guys think? Did Dell pull it off? Do you know of any other companies that user similar collaborative techniques? What could Dell do now to improve/enhance its current social media campaign?

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Filed under Citizen Reporter, Marketing, New Media, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Jon Fine, BusinessWeek”

[Due to technical difficulties, this post is going up a day late. Sorry.]

Live from the Web 2.0 Summit, it’s another installment of our regular Thursday feature, “3Q’s in 3 Min.” In the spirit of citizen journalism, SocialTNT puts bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. In addition to helping PR peeps pitch these individuals more effectively, the videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters and communications practitioners on the future of media

This Thursday, socialTNT met with Jon Fine, Media Columnist from BusinessWeek. Not just covering big conglomerates, Jon’s column also focuses on the convergence of media and advertising. In today’s “3Q’s in 3 Min,” Jon tells us a little more about his beat, opines on the decline of traditional media and very honestly explains his view of PR.

After the jump, see the video and learn more about Jon…

I love reading Jon’s column. While other Media columnists at traditional pubs only cover, well, other tradtional outlets, Jon is always willing to hear what’s going on in the emerging media and music, especially if there might be an ad/marketing angle involved. Not a big surprise, since he used to write for Advertising Age.

I met Jon in the lobby of the Palace Hotel, the venue for the 2007 Web 2.0 Summit. Total New York (read: adult Williamsburg), he was rocking a pair of neon blue Nike SB Dunks, a pair of Gucci framed-glasses and some skinny jeans–not too surprising considering his blog post bashing Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s “Adidas man-sandals.” Jon would later tell me in our warm up interview that he was even technologically very New York; he doesn’t jump to the latest and greatest trend-tech and is too private to use Twitter. After my emphatic explanation of the applications beyond the “What are you doing?” aspects, he may quickly become a member of the Twitterati. 😉 He’s also been putting off incorporating RSS feeds into his reading habits.

Facts about Jon:

  • He’s married to MediaBistro founder, Laurel Touby
  • So deep into punk rock, he has his own band
  • HUGE politics fan (religiously reads The Kaus Files)
  • Typical daily media consumption
    • MediaBistro, BuzzMachine, Kaus Files, NYT (print version) , WSJ (print version), New Yorker, New York Mag, Advertising Age, Drudge, and Fortune (never Forbes)
  • He, too, is a member of the Jeff Jarvis fan club
  • He is on Facebook and LinkedIn
  • In addition to his column in BusinessWeek, Jon has a blog

When watching the video, keep in mind that Jon says he’s more of a traditional media reader. I don’t completely believe it, but it is nice to hear an East Coast perspective on Media. Pay close attention to Jon’s last couple of statements, he offers a completely candid opinion of PR industry and its future.

To me, Jon is absolutely right. There are more tools in the toolbox with less attention to go around. By utilizing these tools effectively, we can gain more attention. Isn’t that what our clients pay us for? The idea of attention economy is something I’d like to explore in a future post. Charlene brought it up in last week’s interview.

What do you think? Is the media slowly declining, or will it be a fast death? Is PR headed for the same doom?

Thanks for a great interview, Jon!

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Future of Media, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Video Interview

“It’s a Conversation, Stupid! Part 3: The Approach”

So hopefully you’ve had enough time to catch up with Part 1, a short introductory post, and Part 2, a brief history of the social aspects of the internet. Although very basic, Part 2 is particularly crucial as it gives us all the same frame of reference.

Today, we continue reminding our PR, advertising and marketing friends how to have a conversation. I would like to build on the last two posts by listing what I consider the keys to launching a successful social media campaign.

Yesterday at the Graphing Social Patterns conference, Charlene Li at Forrester outlined her best practices to approaching a Facebook campaign. (If you weren’t able to make it, check out the slide show from her presentation.) Surprise! She stressed “Facebook marketing is about communicating, not advertising.” I couldn’t agree more. (Charlene will be my interviewee this week for Thursday’s “3 Q’s in 3 Min” segment.)

To me, as the web evolves, our online world becomes closer to mirroring the way we interact and communicate in the real world by making our online experience easier to manage and use. You wouldn’t go into a private party and start shouting at random people; that would get you beat up and thrown out. Likewise you shouldn’t approach a social media campaign in traditional one-sided manner. The key to planning your social media campaign all revolve around this concept. Hopefully these 6 tips can help you out.

1. It’s a Conversation, Stupid!

The number one thing to remember is that it’s a conversation. (I can’t stress this enough. I mean, it’s the title of the series. You see it on every post. Hopefully it’s getting drilled into your head!).

The nature of the medium creates a very private space. Yes, there is a lot of sharing. Yes, the pages may be open to anyone on the internet. But these are members not users and they are involved in a community. To them, it maybe like a bar, private party, support group or private journal. In all cases, you wouldn’t go in and start shouting your message.

2. Listening: The most important part of conversing


Imagine stumbling upon a heated discussion in a park. A lot of people are gathered around watching while a few people talk. Ideas are being exchanged–some agree, some disagree. Before you can say anything, you have to listen.

Look at this quote from Wikihow’s article on“How to Have a Great Conversation

Listen. This is the most important part of any conversation. You might think a conversation is all about talking, but it will not go anywhere if the listener is too busy thinking of something to say next. Pay attention to what is being said. When you listen attentively to the other person, injecting a thought or two, they will often not realize that it was they who did most of the talking, and you get the credit for being a good conversationalist – which of course, you are!

While listening, you can learn a lot. What are they talking about? How do they use the media to communicate? What are they interested in? Maybe they’ve already started talking about your client. If so, what are they saying?

This isn’t market research and analytics. This is preparing to engage in a conversation.

3. Add to the conversation, thoughtfully

After you’ve gotten a feel for the conversation, then you can respond. Remember: It’s not a shouting match. You can’t come out swinging and you can’t just repeat messaging. Nobody likes the guy that’s always talking about himself. You have to offer some insight back to the community.

In Todd Defren’s hypothetical anti-depressant pharmaceutical campaign, he suggests the marketer not tweet commercials, but instead post things that “could change a sufferer’s life.” This is crucial. It helps make your brand or client a resource engaged in the community, not just another advertisement. You meet them in their venue, on their terms. They’ll respect that and gain loyalty.

4. “Why I oughta…”

https://i2.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/202/476387693_e63962cfeb_m.jpgNobody likes the guy at the party that won’t budge and acknowledge he may be wrong, neither do consumers. If you come across some negative comments, you can’t ignore them and pretend nothing is wrong. You have to thoughtfully (and timely) engage with them. Look at this tip from conversationtalk.com on how to handle “unpleasant conversations”:

To have a good conversation you need to be flexible and
be ready to handle difficulties that crop up. The art of having
good conversation does not mean everything goes smoothly
at all times.

If you can remain calm and fairly pleasant during the tough
talks you will improve and acquire good conversation skills. You
will also earn a reputation as someone who can easily be talked

Do you remember Jeff Jarvis’ “Dell Hell”? He had some problems with Dell and voiced them on his (high-trafficked) blog. Dell ignored the conversation as more bloggers continued dishing negative reviews of Dell’s products. When they finally did launch a blog, Dell blogged as if everything was ok. Finally, after it had gotten pretty out-of-hand, Dell’s blogger responded as a human to other humans, and it made a splash. It was a move that said: “Hey, maybe we’ve been out of touch, but now we are ready to listen.”

Consumers like to be taken seriously. If you think the negative comments will just disappear, think again. Remember the last post: Consumers can now share ideas at an alarmingly viral rate and people can search more effectively. When they google your client’s name and see a thoughtful response (whether on a company’s blog, response to someone else’s post or response in a user group) alongside the negative comments, it can significantly diffuse negative PR while also building loyatly.

5. It’s not all about you

Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” said “It’s much easier to become interested in others than it is to convince them to be interested in you.”

If you open up to them, they will open up to you. Give them insight into the company, product, behind-the-scenes, etc. Make the content easily available and let consumers share this content. Let them use your logo, your mascot, your videos.

Don’t be afraid to let go of a little control. If your brand message changes in the process, maybe you were wrong about your audience. Nobody likes having a conversation with someone who controls the conversation. It’s boring and participants become easily disinterested. If you let your consumers participate, it builds trust.

6. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”


Transparency! Yes, everyone at the party is a private detective. Any one of them can pull off your mask and then no one at the party will want to talk to you.

Take note of Walmart’s flogs or Whole Foods and the “Rahodeb” incident? It all comes out, so don’t even think about not disclosing your affiliations!!

What do you think?

That may have been a lot to take in. I’d like to know what you think. Agree? Disagree?

In the next post, we’ll take a look at the tools that are currently available.

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Filed under Future of Media, It's A Conversation, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Networking

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Jemima Kiss, The Guardian UK”



Jemima Kiss, The Guardian UKToday, SocialTNT debuts a new, weekly video interview series, “3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min.” In the spirit of citizen journalism, I will be turning my camera on bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s and any other brave souls with thoughts on social media. In addition to helping us pitch these individuals more effectively, I’d like the series to start a dialog between reporters and PR practitioners on the future of media .

My first victim guest, is the Guardian’s Jemima Kiss. As a New Media and Tech Reporter for the prestigious British paper, she’s perfect as SocialTNT’s first interviewee. I had the honor of meeting with Jemima last week while she was in town covering the TechCrunch40.

In the video, Jemima discusses her major focus/beat, the future convergence of media and technology, and the difficulty old media has with being “open.”

(see the “3 Questions in 3 Minutes” video after the jump) Continue reading

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Future of Media, New Media Masters., Video Interview