Futuristic digital man, recovering PR guy, magic beansman, aspiring know-it-all. Chief Strategy Officer at Northern Army. More...

Third Tuesday with RichardatDELL

Richard Binhammer and Ian Ketcheson at Third Tuesday Ottawa

Despite the fact that Third Tuesday Ottawa was held on the first Monday of December, and despite the fact that 40cm of white fluffy pain fell on the city during the day, the night, which featured Richard Brinhammer of Direct2Dell fame, was definitely a successs.

To be honest, Richard was not what I expected from a living, breathing social media case study. Far from a utopian social media zealot, he’s a gruff, opinionated, and extremely intelligent communicator who is surprisingly pragmatic about the role of social media. That said, there’s no question that he’s a believer in what Dell is doing with Direct2Dell and Ideastorm.

A few things stood out at me in his recounting of his experience with Dell’s online reputation management. First, he mentioned that their methodology is still getting reports from Technorati and Google, and bringing them all together in an Excel sheet. Dell is mentioned over 4,000 times per day. What’s your excuse for not listening to what bloggers are saying about your company?

He also mentioned that when responding to bloggers, Technorati ranking is never considered. In his words, “we don’t know where the next perfect storm will come from.” Technorati scores are great for a lot of things, but it’s hardly a reflection of a blog’s true influence. If I have 100 readers, but they’re all named Scoble, Israel and Arrington, then I’ve got more influence than many bloggers with thousands of readers.

I think the comment that resonated with me the most was when Richard said that the main effect of blogging and interacting with the blogosphere was that Dell “started worrying less about transactional relationships and more about relationship relationships.” Given my recent post on the subject of transaction, it was nice to have my thinking validated.

It was nice to put a real face to the example we all pull out when clients ask us about blogging, because it reminded me of something that I think we all need to be reminded of from time to time – at the end of the day, social media is not about corporate strategy and ROI. It’s about people. From what I saw, Richard is good people.


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  1. Ryan,
    I thin you are absolutely right in your views about the need to transcend the focus on transactions. And it was great to hear them validated by a guy like RichardatDell, whose been at the heart of one of the most remarked upon social media efforts by a Fortune 100 company. We can use social media to build long term relationships that serve both company and consumer alike.

    Bringing this discussion into the real world at Third Tuesdays with speakers like Richard gives us a chance to establish stronger relationships. It also should help us to move forward with confidence knowing that we are up to date with the best thinking that the social media world has to offer.

    The fact that you that Richard validated a line of thought you already were developing just goes to show that Canadians are in the forefront of thinking and working through the potential of social media.

  2. I loved your description of Richard – “Far from a utopian social media zealot, he’s a gruff, opinionated, and extremely intelligent communicator who is surprisingly pragmatic about the role of social media.” I’ve found that to be true as well, and it’s one of the reasons I cherish opportunities to hang out with Richard and the digital media people at Dell — they’re not zealots but very pragmatic people grappling with incredibly disruptive forces in the way business is conducted. And “relationship” is not just a word to them, it’s a way of life. I applaud the way they’ve reached out to bloggers and the social media community in Austin.

  3. Hi Ryan

    Thats quite a post.

    Im not sure how to take that view of me as being not a social media zealot versus gruff, opinionated, pragmatic, intelligent communicator, and a believer in the potential to really build customer relationships, not transactions…..but Im taking it as a compliment :-).

    As I indicated, when I first started I was not sure where this was all going. WTF???? was how I felt….but I have come to the conclusion that the direct interactions, listening and learninig is the basis for really building meaningful relationships and understanding. Social media is the best tool to date to do that, even though it does not work in “isolation”

    And when I say meaningful relationships and understanding — that means they go both ways. People in a company to and from other people…. who may be customers, observers or from any walk of life.

    Thanks for adding your perspective on what was of value and meaningful to you …because I learned from that too.

    Thanks to all for a great trip home, by the way

  4. You should definitely take it as a compliment. There are enough zealots out there.

  5. Richard @ Dell is a role model, in my opinion, for a guy and his company engaging in social media.

    He’s commented on my humble blog with honesty and a sense of realism devoid of corporate-speak.

    Go Dell, and keep on Richard, as a trail-blazer for corporate best-practice integration into mainstream conversation.


  6. […] of my favourite passages, about Dell’s Richard […]