The Social CEO – How Michael Dell brought Dell back in the game
Every time I go to a meeting and open my Dell laptop, I get a few Mac eyebrows raised at me – a social media consultant, working with a Dell? Yes, I say, absolutely. And here’s why: Very few CEOs put themselves out there on social channels, and those that do, earn their customers and clients trust for life. One such great example is Michael Dell, CEO of Dell.
Dell is a self-made billionaire who has ruled his company for over 30 years, going through better and worst times. An interesting fact for the Israeli crowd – Many people don’t know that “Dell” is actually a “localized adjustment” of the Jewish name “Tal” done upon the family’s immigration to the United States (source: wikipedia).
It’s no secret Dell is struggling with competition coming from the cooler kids in the block such as Mac and Lanovo. In February 2013 Michael announced he is taking Dell private, in a $24bn buyout. Was that a smart move? Announcements by Michael Dell are that company is thriving since going private, Dell claims it is growing faster than its rivals Oracle, IBM, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard, much of it thanks to his “open door” policy not just to employees, but to his customers as well.
Dell is using Social full force as a company, where it’s CEO leads by example. Michael Dell’s activity in social is ranked among top 30 CEO’s on social – not something you’d expect from a CEO of a (forner?) “dinosaur” company, who’s been leading it for over 30 years. Michael is active on Twitter with 864k followers and an 84 Klout score (Obama’s is 92), has a Google Plus with 339k followers and a great LinkedIn profile which gets updated with new posts once a month. Using this smart move, of being “out there” and making a direct connection with potentially each of Dell’s customers, Michael Dell has managed to increase – and potentially save – Dell’s survival and success, using savvy and current presence and persona.
Shel Israel interviewed Dell for SAP Global Social Media Survey, I recommend any CEO who is against Social Media use, to read the full interview, and see succesful PR in action, for now, here’s an excerpt :
“Back in December, I interviewed Lionel Menchaca for this SAP Survey of Social Media’s impact on culture and business and was impressed with his passion, transparency and commitment to conversations with customers. I was left with the impression that “Dell gets it.” The company understands the fundamental changes brought about by social media and in so doing has transformed a recently hostile audience into one that is on Dell’s side, rooting for it in the marketplace.”
Michael’s answer to the question Why be n social, is simple – because that’s where the customer is, because you want to PROACTIVELY connect with them, not wait for them to leave or complain, to do that: “Well, when you look at the world and see that the number of people online will double from 1 to 2 billion in a few years, it makes a compelling case for understanding where this growth is occurring and what it means. Our goal is to join the conversation and speak directly and candidly with our customers. The more we engage, the more we learn and the better we can do for our customers….You know, people talk about social media programs but I just think about conversations with customers. We have hundreds of millions of them every year. We listen on the phone and in the offices of our customers. Why not improve our online listening skills and the number of ways we can do it?
We want our customers to walk the hallways of Dell. From our engineering labs to manufacturing plants to service and solutions teams. This means that when we’re making decisions, we’re always thinking about our customers.”