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Corporate Blog Review: Dell One2One Blog
This corporate blog review has three parts: my conclusion, which I'll put first for the impatient readers, and then a quick synopsis of the buzz about the Dell one2one blog and my nitty-gritty review.

Conclusion: On a 0-10 scale, I give the Dell one2one blog a 4.  Yes, that's somewhere between paltry and miserable, but there are some fine redeeming qualities at this blog.  Remember that things can change very quickly.  The one2one blog still holds tremendous potential for the good or ill of Dell's corporate image and financial success.

Dell, you're at a very big microphone with thousands of spotlights trained on you.  Many of those shining the spotlights have sizable microphones and audiences of their own.  If you are wise, then seize this mic right now and start doing three things fast:
1) TALK to people about your company,
2) LISTEN to how they respond, and
3) ANSWER them with care.

Now then, for you patient readers: my detailed thoughts on Dell's newest corporate blog and the buzz surrounding it.

Part 1: Big Buzz Surrounds New Dell one2one Blog

In a nutshell, most notable bloggers don't like Dell's new blog for various reasons, but are generally willing (e.g. Jeremiah Owyang, Steve Rubel, Mark White) to allow Dell some time to improve its blog before completely discounting it.  Some excellent posts covering the new blog and the buzz about it are by Robert Scoble, Jeff Jarvis, Shel Israel, and B. L. Ochman.  Many have talked about Dell's blog, but few (if any) have analyzed it in depth.  I'll give that my best shot right now.

Part 2: My Qualitative Review of the new Dell Corporate Blog

URL: http://www.dellone2one.com/

Title/Tagline: "one2one: Direct Conversations with Dell."  I like that.  It's clear and direct and it promises two-way, open, honest talk with Dell.  I'd love to be able to use this blog not only to know what's going on at the company that made my computers, but also to feel connected, to feel validated, for having bought their products.

First Impression: Ho-hum.  It's okay.  If you told me this was the blog of the computer fix-it company down the street, I'd say it's not half bad.  But this is DELL'S BLOG (yes, I know it's not their only blog - but it is their most buzzworthy by far right now so most people consider it to be *the* Dell blog) - an official production by one of the world's biggest computer production and sales companies.  So I'm disappointed.  Nothing catches my eye at first.  In other words, nothing's very unique, so my brain says, "So what?"

Author(s): Several authors have posted at the one2one blog so far - that's encouraging.  In fact, only one person can claim to have authored more than one of the 11 posts published so far.  I say to Dell, great job spreading the posting responsibilities around, but make sure you can still project a unified voice on your blog.  If you need to, add more blogs (hint hint) and split them up by product line or topic, for example.

Layout/Design: Very bland and uninspiring.  Granted, content is far more important here, but the design still needs a lot of help.  Spice up the colors and add some more functionality, Dell, please.  And for some reason, the comments are messed up - that is, clicking on a commenter's name redirects you to the one2one main page rather than to the commenter's site.

Content: So far, it's okay.  Not awful, but not great.  The content is certainly relevant and useful, but it's also sparse.  After all the buzz this blog has generated, I would be shocked if Dell didn't immediately start posting either much more frequently or with much more intensity to one2one.

The "about page" has a nice explanation of the blog's creation, inspirations and policy.  I like the human touch to this about page.  I just wish that the link to it wasn't buried at the bottom of the blog.

The "contact" page is like the about page - well-written, if somewhat plain and bare.  Dell, please make it easy for anyone to contact you via your blog.

I must say that absolutely love the most recent post, by Laura Bosworth (Dell's director of "WW Customer Experience" - I assume "WW" means Worldwide, but there's no link to Laura's profile anywhere that I can see, so I'm left guessing).  Here we get a real human being sounding like a real human being!  I can almost hear her speaking, sharing her feelings about Dell and assuring us that Dell is striving to improve.

Let this be a lesson to all corporate bloggers: People who visit your business blog will most likely base their opinion of your company on the feelings they get while at your blog, not on the information you offer at your blog.  It ain't fair, but it's true.  So try your best to make 'em feel welcome, important, respected and listened to.  I'm not talking about the Dell blog right now; rather, I'm referring to corporate blogs and bloggers in general.  Okay, off the soapbox and back to the review.

Post Frequency: About 2-3 posts per business day since the first post was published on Wednesday, July 5 (see the full archive).  That's a decent clip for a small business, but I would expect a giant computer maker and seller like Dell to publish much more frequently.  I say, tell me more!  From the ground floor all the way up to the boardroom, I want to hear your continuing story, Dell, and I want to be able to talk to you about it easily.

Conversationality:  The blog does allow comments, but the last three entries haven't published any yet - probably due to a long moderation queue.  Two entries from this week have garnered dozens of responses.

My conclusion is at the top of this post.

I welcome any and all comments.  Please help me dissect this and other corporate blogs so we can encourage companies to communicate better with the world!

10 Comments/Trackbacks

Excellent, Easton. You make a very articulate argument. I hope Dell is listening (but won't be on it).

Thanks, Tom! I'm glad you enjoyed reading my post. I love doing these blog reviews and I'm sad that few others are even trying to do them. We have many bloggers who are great at telling the world that a new corporate blog exists. We need more who are willing and able to evaluate those new blogs.

I just get the feeling Easton that they are a "day late and a dollar short" with this - nonetheless, thanks for keeping them honest in the meantime. All the best.

Thanks, Starbucker. I hope Dell turns it around fast - if they do, it could influence other companies to start blogs the right way. Well, either way they're going to be a notable object lesson!

If they're flexible, they should have no problem adapting. At least they're trying.

Great post, Easton. I'd refine the process even further as I'm currently writing a thesis on customer listening and how it is going to be changing organizational structure and behavior and that this needs to be driven by a new breed of c-level executive.

I think Dell should:
LISTEN - to other blogosphere posts
ACKNOWLEDGE ISSUES - by linking to the post and talk only about how that issue is being addressed
LISTEN AGAIN - to all feedback
ANSWER - include a we hear you and are working on the problem if it can't be immediately addressed

On July 11th, I wrote a post (link is in my name below) talking about how they should run the blog and linking to my post regarding my pointing out the flaw of not enough USB ports in my recently purchased Dell Dimension 9150 and not instructing UPS to treat me as a customer who is paying for this shipping. If they followed the policy above, engineers would be notified of my concern and future customers would be more satisfied.

Dell is indeed trying, and you can sense their effort through their latest posts. I'm pleased to see them continuing to post frequently right now. I think it would be a tremendous waste of opportunity to not do so.

David, great comment and I'll follow up on it at this blog next week.

Good luck on your thesis!

David, my follow-up post is up! Thanks for prompting it.

» Dell One2One Blog Progress Report: Small Signs of Improvement from BusinessBlogWire
After my review of the Dell one2one corporate blog last week, David Dalka suggested five key steps for Dell to follow in order to improve its relationship with potential and actual customers.  Listen to David: "Dell should: LISTEN - to... [Read More]

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