THE BLOG

Isn't the Value of Social Media What Business Is All About?

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Today's corporate leaders are struggling to figure out how to use social media to further their business strategy. At Dell, we believe this is backwards thinking. Social media isn't a means to further a corporation's strategy, it's a means to help determine it.

The "Mom and Pop" businesses in our neighborhoods have always followed sound and pragmatic business practices, rooted in developing, maintaining and strengthening relationships with customers. The customers and the businesses valued those relationships because "Mom and Pop" offered convenience. They listened to their customers and used their suggestions to improve the business. They provided great service and found ways to thank their clientele. Social media is really nothing more than the simple application of these business practices in a digital form.

So if you are wondering about how to leverage Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, and the company Web site to achieve your organization's goals, perhaps you are starting from the wrong point. As with the corner store, if your business uses social media to engage in conversations on a human level, you strengthen your business and allow your strategy -- both corporate and social media -- to evolve based on customer feedback.

At Dell, we have a longer perspective on the social media conundrum than most. We've been an active leader in the space since 2006, with a depth and breadth to our social media presence that has earned top billing among brands using social media to engage stakeholders.

What we've learned is that social media has transformed the large corporation of the millennium into the Mom and Pop shop of the old days. The emergence of social media simply makes it more possible to connect directly with customers every day. Dell's community goes well beyond our own forums -- it now extends to direct contact with more than three million followers worldwide. Even during a historically difficult time for businesses of all stripes, Dell has generated nearly $7 million in global product sales on Twitter.

"Mom and Pop" knew that their business was only as successful as their relationships with customers could make it. That's the value of the direct connection to your customer, and that's how every company can achieve success using social media -- by facilitating the conversation. No strategy necessary.