Monday, June 18, 2007

Dell Breaks the Social Media Laws (Cluetrain Laws #53-55)

A blog post at NewsBlog on CNET by Declan McCullough this morning told an all too familiar story that highlights a common transgression in a Marketing 2.0 world. A former Dell Sales Manager posted on his blog at with tips on how to buy from Dell. Dell responded aggressively with a legal threat asking that it be taken down because it included confidential, blah blah blah. Well . . . that went over like Google at the eBay party. Here’s a quote from McCullough’s blogpost:

“That legal threat might have worked a decade ago, but not today. The correspondence was Dugg; it was Slashdotted; it was generally dissected and discussed at length by increasingly irate customers (and potential customers) until Dell was forced to turn tail and apologize.

That happened in a "we goofed" post on Saturday by Lionel Menchaca, Dell's digital media manager. He said: "We blew it... Instead of trying to control information that was made public, we should have simply corrected anything that was inaccurate. We didn't do that, and now we're paying for it." (Dell also offers a community forum.)”

I feel like Dell could have avoided all this had they only taken time to really understand the nature of information now that we’ve come up with all these interesting ways of distributing it. Did they really think they were going to put the cap on information once it was in the Social Media Web? You can’t respond faster than a blog post, you can’t shout louder than a forum, and you can’t kill a conversation you didn’t start. Let’s hope others are learning from Dell’s embarrassing example of how NOT to participate in someone else’s conversation.

From Cluetrain:

53. “There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market. In most cases, neither conversation is going very well.”
54. “Almost invariably, the cause of failure can be traced to obsolete notions of command and control.”
55. “As policy, these notions are poisonous. As tools, they are broken. Command and control are met with hostility by intranetworked knowledge workers and generate distrust in internetworked markets.”

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