Forrester Groundswell Award Submission

Category: Business to Consumer – International, Talking

 

Opportunity

The Chinese social media scene is unique compared with those of most other technologically advanced international markets.  The estimated 385 milllion users participate in an online world of animation, pop-culture expression and humor.  And, they are not using Facebook and Twitter but rather platforms unique to the Chinese marketplace: Sina, an infotainment and mini-blog platform, and Renren, a social networking site.  

Dell recognizes that global markets are unique and require unique approaches and channels for engaging with customers.  So, following successful social media programs like Direct2Dell, IdeaStorm, @DellOutlet and as the first company to start a Chinese-language corporate blog in the computer industry with Direct2Dell Chinese, the company assessed how to leverage its existing social media best practices for China's unique social media marketplace and in a manner that would relevantly engage with existing and potential customers there.   

Dell's Vice President of Social Media Communications Manish Mehta spoke about the differences in China's online audiences in a recent Huffington Post article stating, "People online in China communicate in a less formal manner, one that is very creative - full of mash ups, fun and what we might consider 'pop-culture' expressions, sarcasm and humor. In many cases the chatter about products and brands is more prominent and powerful online than offline. In fact, online conversations in China are among the most powerful influence on what people buy."

Implementation and Results

Dell launched corporate accounts on both Sina and Renren to build awareness and affinity among key demographics: student and young professionals. Dell's goal was to share relevant information and acquire fans through interactions and product discounts.

Dell created a mini-blog on Sina.com and, in just six months, became the third most followed international brand on Sina.com with 20,000 fans and transformed the way an international brand talks to its customers on this platform.  This timeline is summarized and depicted in an image below.

  • Dell was the first company in China to offer exclusive Sina mini-blog coupons which caused a spike in the number of people following the Dell account on Sina.
  • Dell was the first company in China to implement customer surveys on Sina.com which offered existing and potential customers the opportunity to provide feedback on existing products and services and allowed Dell to gather new ideas for product designs.
  • Dell formed a team of Employee Ambassadors to represent Dell on Sina.com and interact with customers. These Dell specialists share news and information regarding Dell products and services, technology trends, and proactively reach out to customers to answer their questions, help solve customer service issues and thank customers for choosing Dell.
  • Dell integrates content being shared on Sina.com with its Dell.com.cn audience via widgets and with its smartphone audience using an application.

Dell also joined the online community Renren and, within four months, became the most followed corporate brand on the platform with 300,000 fans. Other notable achievements include:

  • Dell created a virtual city to serve as a platform for talking with customers. This is a practice other technology brands now imitate.
  • Each Dell post on the fan site receives an average of 280 comments.
  • More than half (53%) of Dell's fans in RenRen are college-aged, an important audience for the company's future success in the consumer electronics arena.

Dell's presence on Sina and Renren has generated buzz from customers, influencers and media. Notable coverage includes placement in Sina Tech, CNET, Business Management Review, Sohu, Advertiser, and China Business Journal.