Dell, poster child for social commerce, offers a useful 8-step Social Media Guide for businesses (click here for our archived version combining the eight steps into a single downloadable PDF (2MB)).

Dell’s social media guide is introductory, broader than social commerce and has a small business focus.  But it’s a worthwhile read for big brands too – as it provides a no-nonsense, jargon-free and evidence-based approach to profiting from social media.

Dell is worth listening to in the social media space, particularly as the company deploys pretty much the full social commerce suite, deal feeds in social media (netting $6.5m), social shopping (group buy) solutions, onsite ratings and reviews, recommendations and referrals (via affiliate scheme), as well as forums and communities.  This guide doesn’t cover these social commerce applications, but it does cover the social media foundations on which to build an effective social commerce solution. It’s also a useful checklist to go back to your digital agency with and asking ‘are we doing this?’

  1. Learn to Listen: Listening to customers, prospects and influencers is the foundation of all successful social media programs. By listening to online conversations happening in blogs, forums and social networks, you can bring the voices of your customers directly into your organizations.
  2. Join the Conversation: Many people equate “PR” to “digital PR” or “digital influencer relations.” While they are similar in many ways, there are some important nuances to consider. Most importantly, online conversations are much more direct and personal, requiring the highest level of transparency and candor.
  3. Start a Blog: Once you have taken the time to listen to the online conversation and build relationships with digital influencers, starting your own company blog can be a powerful channel to share information and engage key audiences in fast, honest, two-way conversations.
  4. Tap into Twitter: Twitter is fairly new to the social media scene, but many companies have already found ways to use it for business, from announcing new products to helping out customers in need.
  5. Crowdsource Your Next Big Idea: Crowdsourcing is the process of enabling your customers to play an active role in creating a new product or service, or in some cases, solving a business challenge for your company. Let’s face it – our customers know what they want and need better than anyone.
  6. Harness the Power of Facebook: Facebook is the fastest growing social network in the world with more than 100 million active members – including you! Facebook offers a variety of solutions for small businesses to connect with customers and prospects more deeply and leverage the huge, viral potential of this community.
  7. Share Photos & Videos Online: Photos and videos can engage customers and convey more about a company and its people, products and services than text alone. Today, new technologies and Web sites like Flickr and YouTube have made it easier than ever for businesses to produce and share multi-media content.
  8. Measure Your Success Online: It’s important to understand how a social media program is performing against specific business objectives in order to maximize the impact and justify further investment. The beauty of social media is that it is highly measurable using tools like Google Analytics.

We’d like to have seen the inclusion of forums and communities in Dell’s guide, as forums are as easy as setting up and running a blog, and some social shopping ideas, but other than that – we think Dell have the bases covered for you.