You might call Dell a Twitter rock star. The PC maker is attracting thousands of followers every week to its 28 Twitter accounts.
Collectively, Dell’s various Twitter accounts – including @Direct2Dell, @DellTechCenter, @DellSmBizOffers and @DellOutlet – boast about 50,000 followers.
Sure, that may be a drop in the Web 2.0 bucket when you look at the sheer millions surfing the Internet. But in the grand scheme of things, few tweeters have more followers than Dell.
Is Dell a Twitter Superstar?
According to Twitterholic, an analytics service that scans the Twitter public timeline for new twits to tweet, President Barack Obama is the Twitter king with more than 250,000 followers. Of course, he’s President Barack Obama.
Other Twitter superstars include Britney Spears, CNN, the New York Times, Lance Armstrong and Shaquille O’Neal. You’d expect celebrities and news outlets to have a large entourage of followers, though. What you might not expect is for a PC maker to draw so many loyal fans.
As it turns out, Whole Foods, Starbucks, JetBlue, Apple and Dell are among the product and service icons on Twitter. Admittedly, Twitter rankings are hardly an exact science, but one thing is certain: Dell is watching its list of followers grow by the hour.
On Tuesday, for example, @DellOutlet had nearly 19,000 followers. That’s an impressive number, considering it only launched in June 2007. Today, @DellOutlet has nearly 27,000 followers. Richard Binhammer, widely known as the face of Dell’s social media efforts, has more than 5,000 followers of his own.
Dell’s celebrity status on Twitter begs the question: How did a PC maker attract so many followers so quickly? And why does this following keep growing exponentially? In a word: engagement.
Engaging with Twitterers
Binhammer surfs the Internet and taps into RSS feeds that help him find people who are talking about Dell – then he engages with them in cyberspace. Binhammer is sort of like a fly on the social media walls, listening for mentions of Dell and reaching out to tweeters, bloggers and Facebookers that are discussing the brand.
“We don’t put @DellOutlet on our e-mail signatures or on marketing materials to try to get followers,” Binhammer says. “We are building relationships, not just building a big list of followers. That means engaging with people at the point of conversation, answering their questions, being a resource. When I do that, people follow us.”
In other words, Binhammer is creating value that drives traffic to @DellOutlet’s profile. If people don’t know you are tweeting, they can’t follow you. So one of Binhammer’s strategies is to be a thought leader in social media.
Binhammer has an active delicious presence where he tags articles about social media. Many of them make mention of Dell, further positioning the brand as a mover and shaker in social media. Binhammer also does interviews with bloggers and journalists that often publish his Twitter identity.
What Dell Doesn’t Do
There are any number of tips and tricks tweeters promote for building a presence. Some of those include tweeting at peak times (read: business hours), being conversational, and tweeting at the right frequency.
Dell employs all of those tactics but not as tactics. Communicating with customers, Binhammer says, is part of Dell’s corporate culture. @DellOutlet tweets about twice a week, offering promotional items, surveys, and other value-added content, in addition to actively engaging with other tweeters through Twitter’s @Replies feature.
What Dell doesn’t do to gain followers is follow back every tweeter who follows one of its accounts. @DellOutlet, for example, only follows 21 others – and those 21 others are the other Dell accounts and personnel on Twitter. This strategy gives @DellOutlet followers a sneak peak at the PC-maker’s other accounts and helps drive traffic to its other tweets.
“We avoid following people just to get followers,” says Ricardo Guererro, Dell’s Global Online Project Manager and “Twitter Dude.” “We are growing organically, using every opportunity to promote ourselves while letting people discover us and decide to follow us because we’re doing something that interests them. We want a quality audience of followers. It’s not all about the numbers.”