#Cory Edwards @uvu

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“If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest [in population].”

With the impact of social media in the world today, students gathered to learn from Cory Edwards, director of social media and corporate reputation at Dell, to learn how to use social media to advance business. The lecture was sponsored by the UVU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, the Department of Communication and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Along with monitoring social media for Dell, Edwards is currently an adjunct professor at BYU. Edwards praised UVU for their variety of courses offered in teaching social media. He commented on how he wants BYU to pattern this teaching because of the impact social media currently has.

Today in society, businesses are using social media outlets to advertise for them.

“But do businesses know what their customers want?” Edwards said. “How many of you follow the businesses on your Twitter?”

Edwards walked through how social media use affected the reputation of Dell Computers. Media consultant Jeff Jarvis began blogging about his poor customer support with Dell, and this resulted in thousands of his followers joining his rampage of “Dell Hell.” Edwards talked about other problems with media that have occurred over time.

In 2006, Dell had a laptop that was being used at a conference in Japan that spontaneously combusted. Pictures and blogs spread the news like wildfire across the web. Dell handled the disaster by not only dealing with the press, but by outreaching to all the blogs and complaints across the web and addressing those comments from their customers.

Dell was later praised for the way they handled the conflict and recall.

“We have really tried to implement customers’ ideas via blogs, twitter, through Idea Storm, etc.” Edwards said. “We have literally tried to weave the facet of social media into everything that the company does.”

Dell was smart to make that transition into social media in their business ventures. Dell is mentioned online about 26,000 times per day and hones in on those conversations to gain feedback from their customers and listen to their competition.

Dell use this information to create “The Dell YouBooth” to ask for suggestions on how to improve their company. They are highly influenced by their customer opinions.

“Corporations used to sit in their nice fluffy chairs and tell the public what they want, but the social web has helped to change that,” Edwards said. “Now it is businesses and customers working together.”

Because of how they implement the feedback and track the customer comments, Dell brought Jeff Jarvis in and answered questions about his original “Dell Hell” blog. As a result of their excellent customer care, Jarvis ended his experience with Dell by writing a positive article about the computer company for “Business Week.”

Edwards gave a few pointers about how to engage and use social media for the benefit of a business.

“You need to listen and engage, and you need to consider the ‘audience of audiences.’ ”


Written by Faith Heaton

Photo by Tom Larsen

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