Shel prefaces the interview by asking, smartly: "Are Dell's increasing stockpile of blogs just the work of middle management or are the people steering the company committed to social media as well. Is blogging a smart play or a strategic initiative?"
Michael Dell's answers are predictably pretty safe but interesting nonetheless. He poo-poos the term "social media programs" and calls it "conversations with customers."
He mentions Dell's other social media initiatives and emphasizes the use of video clips (posted to Dell's blog) to announce new products. He mentions two other Dells blogs: Dell IdeaStorm (where customers can debate and offer ideas) and Dell Shares (for investors but not for first-time announcements of material information).
Note: Dell's home page links to Dell blogs
I noticed in visiting Dell.com today that there is a link to "Dell Community" at the bottom of the home page. It takes you to a page where you can find all of Dell's blogs, forums, videos, etc. Sun Microsystems is one of the few other F500 companies blogging that provides a direct link to blogs from their home page.
And now for a few excerpts from Shel Israel's interview:
Who made the decision to start Dell's corporate blog, Direct2Dell?
"I asked why we didn't reach out to customers on the Web if they had issues and then, once we had that in place, I asked why we didn't have a company blog to further connect proactively with customers. But all credit goes to our team who really took the initiative to make it happen."
What has Dell learned from blogging?
"When we have an issue, we act quickly and we use Direct2Dell as a central point for clarity. If you look at the battery recall, we shared continual updates on our progress."
Has blogging changed Dell's corporate reputation?
"You'd have to ask our customers. We don't own our reputation we just own our actions. That's something our customers give to us in return for us exceeding their expectations.For me, the question is has it improved our business performance? And the answer is yes."
Will you start your own (CEO) blog or contribute to other Dell blogs?
"Yes. We talk about it often. Watch this space :) Our team also does a good job of capturing some of my speaking events online."
Read the complete Feb. 2008 interview by Shel Israel here: Dell's founder talks about social media and its impact on his company and customers.