Dell’s Storm Sessions aren’t getting much traction, but you shouldn’t count them out
I can remember when flash mobs were a hot topic in the media; essentially a group of people with more time on their hands than good sense. I figured this phenomenon would go the way of the mosh pit.
Who knew that Dell.com would try and harness it as a form of online community behavior?
Here, I’m talking about Dell.com’s Storm Sessions which nestle within its Idea Storm community. In simple terms, this is the place where Dell throws out an idea or question for community members, starts the clock, and lets community members throw in their opinions.
Gabfests can be open for a month or a few days. Once the clock has run out, the session is closed, Dell reviews the comments, and shares how/when Dell will act on the information.
I’ve been watching Storm Sessions for about six months to see if this idea would gain any traction within Dell’s community ecosystem and gauge the kinds of issues and questions Dell would pose.
From one perspective, I’m cautiously impressed. Topics range from how to improve the site’s support zones, to mobile technologies desires, to if and how Dell’s corporate responsibility behaviors influence purchase decisions. In other words, information that most technology companies need to know.
This light user footprint underscores the community behaviors we see across the IT Web. Most conversations are happening in support and developer forums. When the conversation turns to business topics, most members would rather lurk and listen – which doesn’t do much when you are trying to spark a dialog.
Despite these realities I wouldn’t count this idea out. Digital flash mobs could be a very powerful way to spark conversations within technical communities and, if handled properly, deliver a wealth of next generation product insights. They also allow a company to “cap” the conversation, distill the results into essential points, and feed back results to the whole community.
From this perspective, don’t think of them as “flash mobs” with a purpose. Think of them as flash research that can pay huge dividends.