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July 27, 2006

Generosity and Dell's new blog

Steve Rubel wrote an interesting post a few weeks ago about a conversation he had with Keith Ferrazzi:

“…to build a network you must be generous. This got me thinking. How generous are individual and corporate bloggers? The answer is some are very generous, others completely aren't. And those who are generous are by far more successful and influential than the rest of the pack.

This got me to thinking about companies how should be approaching their blogging efforts. One of the things companies struggle with in launching their blogs is what the “voice” of the blog should be. This is understandable, especially since many companies have only spoken to their customers through traditional, blast mediums like TV, print, and email.

So let’s take the idea of how a company could be “generous”. Steve points out it includes things like "links, advice, news, ideas, commentary, freebies, you name it.” Now that seems fairly obvious, but it’s still so hard for many companies to do this because they don’t have a culture of generosity already. So they’ve got to learn, often “on the blog” (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) and in public.

Case in point: Dell’s new blog, one2one. When it launched, it consisted mostly of videos a la Channel 9 where engineers and product managers talked about their products. Initial reviews from the blogosphere was varied (negative ones and positive ones), but the Dell blog has really grown to provide a fascinating look into not only Dell but also the numbers behind a new blogging operation, such as comment moderation (80% get posted, 18% get redirected to customer service, and only 2% are deleted because they were “off topic”). And most importantly, they are directly addressing areas of key concern like customer service problems, bloatware, and yes, even the famous “flaming notebook”.

In a just a few short weeks, Dell has moved from being a gawky newbie in the blogosphere to truly engaging with its customers. And it’s doing this by generously providing lots of information, putting itself on the line, and in general, being very forthcoming about when things work and things don’t. That generosity takes time to develop and kudos to them for doing it so quickly and to some extent, painfully, in public.

So as companies ponder venturing into the blogosphere, they should prepare themselves for an initial rough patch as they learn their way around. One of the best things they can do is to prepare for the ineivite missteps And we watchers of corporate blogging efforts should cut them some slack when they launch. It’s like watching kids grow up – as the parent of two young school kids, I am continually giving them feedback on how to behave and yes, how to share and be generous. The important thing is that they learn, improve, and serve their customers in the long term, not how well they do out of the gate. So let’s also be generous ourselves in how we evaluate these corporate blogging efforts.


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Britton Manasco

Excellent post. It's interesting to see good sense returning to the blogosphere on matters such as this. It seems like the most fanatical bloggers -- the self-absorbed twits who might do something like, say, write an "Open Letter to Michael Dell" instructing him to get on the Clue-Train -- get all the attention at first. But, over time, a more healthy and balanced perspective wins out. This should embolden would-be corporate bloggers. Take your blows upon launch if they come. But recognize, if there is value there, the people that matter will keep coming back. The bomb throwers eventually will lose interest and go back to tending the new resentments of their perpetually aggrieved followers.

Karen Wunderlin

My brother Ken sent me a link to your blog. I have just started a place in the blogosphere for my organizational change, coaching and facilitation practice. this is a new world for me, and your comments above were most helpful.

Easton Ellsworth

At my blog, I've been following Dell's corporate blog progress closely. So far it's gone from a 4 out of 10 to a 4.5 and now a 5, for opening up the conversation and posting consistently, as you've talked about here.

The thing to remember here is that building trust with customers is a marathon, not a sprint.


The thing to remember here is that building trust with customers is a marathon, not a sprint.

Alex Bukinis

Totally agree, companies that fight for consumer 's attention with diverse efforts are standing way better off then those who do not - it is a fact. but this endevour is not so easy done then said, what way company should be taing that approach, the paradigm is that you can not repeat another person's success, you absolutly have to find your own. and today since most of venues of blogging or blog going is explored and exploited there is not much of opprotunity left... I mean you can replicate successful expirience but it does not mean that anybody will be sticking around since the public memories are very associative people will tend to go for their online expiriences to the original source who have started it . I have tried it myself and this expirience is proven with my oiwn efforts. So what is left is being innovative only, this we are talking about being very creative and enthusiactic to experiment. Otherwise I do not think that methods outline herein above are going to render any significance in attracting the crowd to you site , and do very little if so to your brand.

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