Dell provides its users a forum to share ideas

ROUND ROCK, TX: Dell has built on its social media outreach by launching a collaborative brainstorming site and a portal for uploading videos.

ROUND ROCK, TX: Dell has built on its social media outreach by launching a collaborative brainstorming site and a portal for uploading videos.

CEO Michael Dell unveiled the new online initiatives February 16 at the Statewide Education Summit in Austin, TX, according to Caroline Dietz, Dell's corporate communications spokeswoman.

Ideastorm, at dellideastorm.com, is a place where users create an account and share ideas about improving Dell's offerings, then vote for the best ideas and discuss them with other users.

Dell enthusiasts have already logged on and chimed in. Some ideas currently up on the Ideastorm site are "No OS preloaded," and "Linux laptop."

The site went live on February 16. By February 27, community members had contributed 2,251 ideas, which had been promoted 142,748 times, and elicited 4,477 comments. Dietz said the site would allow praise and criticism.

In the second part of this campaign, Dell has enhanced StudioDell, the main page for all the company's social media, to include video, where customers are encouraged to share videos showing the creative projects they pursue using Dell computers and technology. It operates similar to YouTube, in that the contributors can upload their videos, which anyone can view.

Michael Dell, founder, chairman, and CEO, uploaded a video on StudioDell to explain the reasoning behind the social media initiatives. Naomi Hales, a professor, nanotechnologist, and Dell customer, submitted to an interview in another video on the site.

"The goal is to give our customers a creative outlet so they can share with each other what they're doing with Dell products," said Dietz.

The computer maker will select ideas generated in these forums to share - throughout the organization - in the hopes they foster new thoughts and ideas.

This is not Dell's first venture into social media. The company has a blog, Direct2Dell.com; a Dell community forum; and a testimonials site.

The Dell blog was launched in July 2005, but it got into hot water days into its existence, when PR and Internet personalities criticized its "promotional" tone and focus. A prominent blogger also got into a debate with a GCI intern. But Dell maintained the blog, which now receives numerous comments per post.

In November 2006, Dell became the largest company ever to formally adopt the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's code of ethics for online and blog communications, which also affects its PR agency GCI Group.

Michael Dell returned to his former post of CEO in late January. Then-CEO Kevin Rollins received a $5 million severance package.

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