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Dell's Bob Pearson on the Future of Communities: Tips for the Fortune 500

Posted by Bill Lee on October 16, 2008 at 12:38 PM
Some takeaways from yesterday's mind expanding presentation by Dell's Vice President of Communities and Conversations at the Communities Exchange Summit.

The best community  builders will be students of this emerging  field.

Why is engaging with customers online critical? About 500,000 people go online every  day for the first time in their lives. Why is internet literacy in multiple languages critical? Most of them  come from  outside the US.

Only 12% of the Fortune 500 is blogging. Small business is blogging 3x faster.

You'll encounter1 million reasons in your firm to not  blog

"What if customers ask for what we don't have? What will we do with

customers' ideas?"

But there are 1.45 billion reasons TO blog. 75% of those "reasons"  trust  their peers, not advertising.

- Get the best monitoring software in the world. You need to understand how

your brand is being  redefined every day by customers. There are  about 600m

conversations going on every day online.

- 78% rank customer  recommendations as the most credible form of

advertising  Most companies are not thinking about  how they  can leverage


- Old marketing: how do we create great content? Then send it out. New

marketing: listen to what's being said by customers.

- Customers want to speak with us in their language of choice.  English

reaches only 1/3 of the world's population, on a good day. You need to be

fluent in 10 languages to reach 90% of the world. How many is your firm

fluent in?

- Facebook has 100 million members,  or more. If that was a country,  you'd

be planning to engage its members, big  time. What are you doing to reach out  to the Facebook community?

- The world's greatest brain is the web.

- People  spend less than 1% of their time online buying stuff. They are

doing other things.

Some Recommendations:

- Know where conversations about your  firm are going. Use tag  cloud to do


- Know where your first impression is formed. Your home page is really the

Google page people land on. Customers will  help "design" the landing page.

Are you in touch with them.

- Customers are unbelievably willing to help other customers. Not you. Your

customers. Partner with them. Listen to them.

- Why get involved with Twitter? It's not that widely used. But look at it

strategically. There are about 65 Dell related Twitter groups. They might

have members who want to be informed about  new products.

- Innovation. Would you rather do a focus group with 10 people for a  day?

Or  listen to 100,000 people debate ideas for months and ask them  questions

throughout the whole process?

- Check out Latitude, a customer generated laptop. Dell engineers became

obsessed with Dell's IdeaStorm community during design  phase.

- Your fans are often the unofficial  leaders of their communities. Treat

them  like family.

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