3 min read

With social media, stick your foot in and take the plunge: Dell VP

On October 1, I was invited to share a day in Toronto with Dell and their partners. The Dell PartnerDirect program has come a long way since the days when Rob, Tony, and myself were providing Dell products and services to businesses in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Now a maturing big brother, Dell is being embraced as a true partner by MSPs everywhere, and they’re going to market together. As Dell North American President Bill Rodriques stated, “It is a win for the customer, a win for Dell, and a win for the partner.”

Earlier in the day I sat down with Bobbi Dangerfield, VP Global Sales Operations for Dell out of Austin, to talk about a lot of things. The one that really tweaked my interest was Dell’s adoption of social media to better serve their customers, help their partners, and ultimately keep their finger on the pulse on “everything Dell” in the social media sphere.

As a marketing consultant helping managed service providers with all aspects of their marketing efforts, social media is a big piece of our strategy. It can help many MSPs win, and it’s an area that many struggle with.

Why is that? Simple: Many small MSPs fail to recognize the value social media plays in helping even the smallest of businesses connect with their audience.

Yes, even the smallest IT firms can leverage social media daily to boost credibility in the marketplace, share trends and their vision with technology, and offer real advice on how businesses can best use IT systems.

The other major hurdle facing managed service providers with social media is time. Time to sit down and do it properly.

Time: that nasty swear word many of us suffer through. Doing social media is a huge time investment, and it’s something I would never recommend a managed service outsource ever! Why not? Another simple answer: Only you know the marketplace and only you really understand the pains facing businesses today. Why risk that to an outsourced company?

Ms. Dangerfield called out one great example on how Dell used social media to tackle a problem with one of their XPS notebook computers. “When the XPS product line first shipped, we had a huge challenge with the fan. They were louder compared to other notebooks. Dell first detected chatter online about this and jumped into action to resolve production issues going forward.”

That’s a great example of how watching social media can show you what your audience is talking about and allow you to react and adapt for your success. Dell is a big company, and many managed service companies simply don’t have the resources Dell would have, but you can see the importance of social media in connecting with today’s customer. Ms. Dangerfield concluded with this advice: “Stick your foot in and take the plunge.”

Here are my simple steps that will allow any managed services provider to best leverage social media:

  1. Invest in a tool that allows you to consolidate all your social media platforms in one place. The best one we have found is http://www.hootsuite.com. Use Hoot Suite as your vehicle to monitor and communicate with your audience.
  2. Write every day. We have already shared with you the importance of writing great content on your blog. Share your vision with technology and share interesting facts and tips on how businesses can best use technology. Connect your blog to your social media channels. The best tool we have found is http://www.dlvr.it.
  3. Monitor keyword terms and discussions online. If you are a Dell partner, watch keywords like “Dell” or “Dell product lines.” When someone has a challenge with a Dell product, as a partner you can jump into action and share advice or offer a solution. You’ll be able to show off your expertise and possibly generate a new lead.
  4. Connect with everyone you meet. When you go to a networking function or business event like a conference, connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook. This gives your colleagues a chance to see what you are all about, and you stay “top of mind.”

These are just some simple tips to help with social media. I echo the points that Bobbi Dangerfield stresses with social media: You must be All-In; you can’t do this with only half an effort. You cannot afford not to be leveraging these tools to help grow your managed services business.