With BlogPotomac coming up in seven weeks [hey, register here], I asked Dell Chief Blogger Lionel Menchaca to tell us a bit more about Direct2Dell and Dell’s other community (aka social media) initiatives. Lionel is giving the opening keynote on Friday June 13, 2008.

BadgeblogpotomacNote: In keeping with the unconference format (see here and here) of BlogPotomac, Lionel and the other speakers will be delivering informal presentations – no PowerPoint – with plenty of time for Q&A with attendees.

Debbie: Does your Dell business card say “Chief Blogger” on it? Was it your idea to give yourself that title and what, in fact, does it mean?

Lionel: No, because I haven’t ordered more cards yet. It will though. It was my idea, and the main reason was to reflect our expansion beyond one centralized blog. We now have blogs in several languages as well as three group blogs: Cloud Computing, Inside IT and Small Business. And more will be coming soon.

As we expand, part of my job is to know what is happening across all of these sites. Ultimately though, my job is to help our customers find the information they’re looking for. Sometimes I may point to a discussion that’s happening on one of our other blogs. Other times, I may contribute posts on other blogs. The title Chief Blogger seemed to communicate that in a straightforward way, so I went with it.


Debbie: Blogosphere watchers say it took Dell an awfully long time (a year) to start its corporate blog after Jeff Jarvis‘s Dell Hell blog rant. Tell us briefly how and why Dell’s blog got started.

Lionel: Our work in this space began just over two years ago when Michael Dell asked our group to find customers in the blogosphere who were blogging about hardware issues to provide technical support. Several weeks into that process, we shared a broader social media strategy plan with Michael–Direct2Dell was part of that. We launched the blog in July, 2006.

Debbie: You are one of the first companies to publish your blog(s) in languages other than English. Are there plans for more languages? (Note: there is a “global community” section on Dell’s Community page.)

Lionel: Yes, we currently also have blogs in Spanish, Chinese and Norwegian. Japanese will be coming soon, and we’re planning for more languages beyond that.

Debbie: Real estate on a corporate home page is precious. I see a prominent link to Dell Community (Ideas, Blogs, Forums, Videos) on Dell’s home page. Tell us about that.

Lionel: Having a community link on is a small part of a bigger long-term strategy to blend community and commerce. For the most part, corporate websites (including are focused largely on e-commerce. Another small step is to incorporate ratings and reviews, which we started last year. We are working on long-term strategies to blend community elements into the commerce side of things. Stay tuned.

Debbie: What has been your most challenging experience so far as Dell Chief Blogger?

Lionel: I would say weathering the negativity storm in the early days of the launch of the blog was probably the toughest. I was prepared for a rough ride because we had been listening for a while before we launched the blog, but that in itself didn’t make things easier.

Badgeblogpotomac More about BlogPotomac: June 13, 2008 (Falls Church, VA).