Dell Tries Social Media Strategy

NEW YORK After weathering a storm of criticism from bloggers about being unresponsive to customer concerns, Dell is continuing its efforts in conversational marketing with the launch of twin Web sites to gather consumer feedback.

At Dell IdeaStorm (www.dellideastorm.com), users are asked to post ideas for new products and feedback on current Dell offerings. Users can rate ideas, using a voting function similar to popular social news site Digg.

Dell said it would use some of that feedback in developing new products. Current popular ideas include a “plant a tree for me” promotion and adding a “quick access” feature to laptops for quickly getting to certain programs.

The computer maker has also rolled out a YouTube-style video function at StudioDell (www.studiodell.com). The site has channels for IT professionals, small-business owners and consumers.

“We’re at our best when we’re hearing directly from our customers,” said company CEO Michael Dell. “We listen, we learn and then we improve and innovate based on what our customers want.”

Dell is the latest marketer to turn directly to its customers for ideas about how to improve its products and services. Yahoo earlier this week introduced a Digg-like site where users can submit product feedback and vote on what is most important.

As a sign that it is open to all manner of feedback, the initial videos at StudioDell include one clip featuring a customer named Rich Peluso, who recounts his negative experience with Dell. Peluso details how he went through multiple representatives from different departments to correct his problems. He goes on to tell of a subsequent positive experience with Dell’s customer service department, adding, “I think Dell is lucky they got me back.”

Dell’s customer service woes were the topic of heated discussion in blogs last year after popular blogger Jeff Jarvis wrote a series of “Dell Hell” posts.

Last March, the company began an effort to rehab its image, making contact with those who detailed problems in their posts. In July, Dell began its own blog, Direct2Dell, as part of an effort to appease to critics.