Companies large and small continue to evolve and even grapple with how to scale meaningful connections with prospects, customers, the media, potential employees and many other constituents.
One of the most valuable and overlooked resources for social engagement with the public are the people within a company. Looking beyond the corporate communications and marketing department, companies like Dell (a TopRank client) are making major investments in time and resources to recruit, train and support their employees to be brand ambassadors on the social web.
Getting SMaC’d at Dell: So far, 10,000 Dell employees have become social media certified by the Dell SMaC initiative. The goal is much larger than that though – Dell has 100,000 employees world-wide. One way Dell is energizing social media education and communications of the larger vision is through an UnConference, where employees create and deliver the agenda themselves.
I was invited to participate on an opening panel at this week’s Dell SMaC 2013 UnConference with over 200 Dell employees and marketing leaders.
In addition to the 200 participants from Dell across marketing, customer service, sales, PR, IT, analytics, CSR, and many other departments, there was some serious star power with Dell marketing leadership present including Bryan Jones, Vice President, North America Marketing, Karen Quintos, Senior Vice President and CMO, Richard Margetic, Director, Global Social Media, and Connie Bensen, Senior Manager, Inbound Marketing Strategy.
The conference opened up with remarks from Bryan and a “fireside chat” with Dell CMO, Karen Quintos about the strategic vision Dell has in regards to the role social media is playing with Dell’s future as a business. Click on the image above to see a short video of their discussion.
Next up was the panel moderated by Social Media “OG” Richard Margetic and included one of the people I’ve been following since I started working in the social media space, Jackie Huba, who was named one of the 10 most influential online marketers and is the author of multiple books including here latest: Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics. Also on the panel was Adam Helweh, a digital design guru and CEO of Secret Sushi. And there was me.
We fielded a variety of questions from Richard and the audience on everything from the role of paid social to how one should best exit a social account they started to the worst things companies are doing on the social web. The focus was really centered on social media for business vs. social media in general. You can follow that dialog using the #SMaC2013 hashtag on Twitter using tchat.io. Also, here’s a graph of social activity during the UnConference from Keyhole.
Now on to the good stuff. The UnConference. I’ve never been to or presented at an UnConference before so this was a very new experience. After the call for topics, people rushed to pick a topic and time slot. There were 5 session times with 8 tracks each. In all, there were nearly 40 different sessions and topics to choose from. Each session had an official note taker/liveblogger so the smart discussions could be recorded and consumed later.
Topics during the UnConference included a diverse array of subjects from content to social platforms to data/analytics to customer focused engagement. Here are many of them:
- Cool content to share
- Content across websites – what, when, where
- The road to become a social media influencer
- What do you do with all that raw data?
- Don’t let unhappy customers scare you. SOS to the rescue!
- Enable SMEs Subject Matter Experts
- How do I start with social?
- What’s next with Direct2Dell corporate blog?
- Social SEO
- Building personal value and the Dell brand in social media. Are they the same?
- #DellLove How to thank customers and turn them into fans
- Create awesome content
- How to effectively build community
- Making Vine and Instavideo work
- How do I build a sincere social brand with multiple people contributing?
- How do you help generate and inspire loyalty in social media?
- How do determine topics for your social media content strategy
- Social Insight @Dell – what’s possible, what’s coming
- Blogger Relations: Is it PR or Marketing?
- Looking past Facebook and Twitter into the future of social media
- Marketing and Big Data: How to grow our footprint beyond CTOs, CIOs
- Using Internal social media
- Leverage analytics (internal/external) to develop relevant thought leadership
- Google Plus
- Best practices in igniting viral
- How to authentically connect with a B2B audience
- Enable your loyal supporters
- How to grow thought leadership with content and social
- Big data, social analytics, digital analytics, CRM: How do they all come together?
Can you imagine attending a conference where all these topics were address by practitioners and a peer discussion? Personally, I have never seen another company do something like this and it’s a testament to both the leadership and vision of Dell marketing leaders as well as the Dell team members in attendance.
In all, this UnConference was a fantastic venue to hear directly from business leaders about strategic vision of the company, to learn from and share with peers on very practical, actionable topics. It was also a great way for people working in different parts of the organization to network. There were many new ideas formed, connections made and brains inspired to take next steps.
I appreciate the opportunity to participate in such an event with a company that is clearly focused on customers, employees and doing the best job they can. What a great way to tap into the vast resources of knowledge within an organization that might otherwise not have a platform to reach so many people.
Thank you to Connie Bensen for inviting me and Bryan Jones for sponsoring the event. I’m looking forward to seeing the social momentum grow even more within the overall Dell organization and what that means for the business.
Has your company used the UnConference format to pull together subject matter experts and other employees with knowledge to share? I am curious what your experience is. My take is that you don’t need to be a big company to pull something like this off in way where everybody wins.