Dell makes $6.5m from Twitter sales (source: the

Computer firm says it is making money from a presence on social networking sites – despite a less-than-impressive start

Companies involved in Twitter are often worried about getting a return for their investment. But here is some good news: it can be done. The computer company Dell ahs announced it made $6.5m in revenues through links on the micro-messaging site.

Its aggregated followers on social media – including Twitter, Facebook and their own Direct2Dell and IdeaStorm – now number 3.5 million and as the firm’s “chief blogger” Lionel Menchaca announces proudly, that is “roughly a fan base the size of the population of Chicago”.

After first disastrous approach which meant basically ignoring complaints, a strategy on which media expert Jeff Jarvis first blogged and wrote about in his most recent book, Dell learned fast.

The company jumped into the social media space more than three years ago, and is today one of the leaders among brands making the most out of social media. @DellOutlet is close to 1.5 million followers on Twitter, and the company announced last June that it earned $3 million in revenue from the micro-blogging service.

Today it nearly doubled that figure, saying in total its global reach on Twitter has resulted in more than $6.5m in revenue – adding that @DellnoBrasil made nearly $800,000 in product revenues, and @DellHomeSalesCA more than $150,000.

Although $6.5m sounds impressive, when you compare it with the net revenue of $12.3bn Dell reported in the first quarter of fiscal year 2010 it becomes clear that this is only a drop in the ocean; however, the companies investment in social media is not only about sales.

“We listen and learn from our customers directly. Our first version delivered the Dell Mini netbook with an apostrophe near to the traditional enter key, so people complained about hitting it instead of return. We developed and delivered a second version of the Dell Mini where the apostrophe key was moved,” says Dell’s senior manager for corporate affairs, Richard Binhammer, who is very much involved with Dell’s social media efforts.

The company uses social networks to scale necessary support of the Dell business units, and has more than 100 using Twitter.

“With using social media our alert system reacts very fast, and we recognise problems throughout the company, whether they are technical or logistical, within weeks. We have seen the negative commentaries decrease about 30%,” says Richard Binhammer.

In addition, for a manufacturer of desktop and notebook computers the presence on social networks can be seen as marketing investment to display the company’s digital competence.

Obviously, in the fragmented media landscape the return of investment is fragmented as well.