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Dell Makes $3 Million From Twitter Sales 76

Barence writes "Dell has admitted to raking in over $3 million from advertising its products on Twitter. The PC maker has been using Twitter for two years, and employs proprietary software to track sales from users clicking through from Twitter links. Of that $3 million, the company claims that $1 million was made in the past six months, following an explosion in Twitter's popularity. (Here is an analysis indicating that 72.5% of Twitter users joined in 2009.) The majority of sales have come through the @DellOutlet account, which posts six to ten special offers a week — with at least half of these being Twitter exclusives. Though the $3 million is a drop in the bucket given Dell's $12.3 billion in revenue during the first quarter of this year, it further bolsters Twitter's case for charging businesses."
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Dell Makes $3 Million From Twitter Sales

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  • by Paleolibertarian ( 930578 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:20PM (#28322137) Journal

    Sorry. I couldn't resist!

  • by JorDan Clock ( 664877 ) <> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:21PM (#28322139)
    Alright, so Dell makes $3 million; But how much does Twitter make from Dell's @DellOutlet account? And how much revenue does Twitter make in general?
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:25PM (#28322181) Homepage

      It's web 2.0.
      Who cares about profits?

      • Now now, what did we learn in 2000? Something about bubbles? Listen people, no matter how fucked up your hair is or how punkish your attitude, you still need to be able to provide some purpose to society eventually. You can't keep living off unwise investors forever. As I understand it, his master plan is to get enough addicts hooked onto instant messaging from major cooperations and then charge the corporations access to the twit drones, suffering the people that send useful messages (all 0.001% of them)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If twitter could charge news media a nickel for mentioning their name, they'd have a viable business model... One that would function for several months, if not two years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:27PM (#28322189)

    Let me clue you in. People that shop at the outlet are cheap bastards. We scour the web for dell coupons, and then buy second hand stuff to save a couple of bucks. We couldn't care less were we have to scour for that information.. Dell should just save us the trouble and put the information here In fact Twitter should pay Dell for driving the traffic to Twitter.

    • 0.004% (Score:5, Informative)

      by nacturation ( 646836 ) * <> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @06:57PM (#28323113) Journal

      But let's look at the numbers. $1 million over the last six months. That's an average of $500K per quarter. Dell made $12.3 billion in revenue for the first quarter. So Twitter sales represent about 0.004% of their sales. OMG AMAZING TWITTER IS SO EFFECTIVE!!1!1

    • by pavon ( 30274 )

      Dell should just save us the trouble and put the information here

      But you said it yourself, you don't care if you have to scour for that information. If they made the information too easily available, then those that do care about having to waste time looking for coupons, and normally wouldn't bother, would start getting the discounts as well and Dell would not make as much money. And you wouldn't have the satisfaction of finding a great hidden deal :)

  • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:31PM (#28322217)
    So what? Dell has effective marketing people. Why is this news?

    They are simply milking an overhyped communication medium, one where there are doubtless many easily influenced and gullible users -- their gullibility being the reason they are using Twitter in the first place.

    Twitter made nothing from this. Twitter makes nothing at all -- other than an enormous amount of hot air. Sure, companies like Dell should ride the gravy train while it's still on the tracks, but it won't last. just like it didn't with Myspace, AOL, Facebook etc, etc, etc...

    And if anything else, the more companies using Twitter to market themselves the even less cool and useful Twitter will be to the few who use it. It will die faster.

    They are still bleeding more users than they retain, this kind of thing will only make it worse.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I think you are missing the point of Twitter, therefore you are doing your best to paint it off as "hot air" and "overhyped" even when it has real value.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        So, what IS the point?
        • by krinderlin ( 1212738 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @06:53PM (#28323087)

          In the most recent issue of Time Magazine, the cover story is all about Twitter and what it is. I really enjoy this quote from the article:

          For as long as we've had the Internet in our homes, critics have bemoaned the demise of shared national experiences, like moon landings and "Who Shot J.R." cliff hangers—the folkloric American living room, all of us signing off in unison with Walter Cronkite, shattered into a million isolation booths. But watch a live mass-media event with Twitter open on your laptop and you'll see that the futurists had it wrong. We still have national events, but now when we have them, we're actually having a genuine, public conversation with a group that extends far beyond our nuclear family and our next-door neighbors. Some of that conversation is juvenile, of course, just as it was in our living room when we heckled Richard Nixon's Checkers speech. But some of it is moving, witty, observant, subversive.

          Steven Johnson.. How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live. TIME. June 15, 2009. Pg 35

          I remember doing exactly this while watching the recent inauguration while tracking #obama and a few other hashtags in my TweetDeck. I had one of those moments, that I hope all people involved in the development and leverage of technology, where I was just in awe of what I saw.

          Twitter is not a new idea, and it will probably not last very long. I saw it likened to IRC elsewhere on this thread. It is, in a way. However, instead of IRC with several channels, we just send all the messages together and allow the user to filter them however they see fit. Furthermore, this filtering gives a whole new way to find someone talking about a topic right now.

          Another moment I like to talk about is when I posted to Twitter how I was going over to a close friend's house. He had asked me to bring over a bottle of Vodka. Not two minutes later, I got an @ reply from Pinnacle Vodka, saying that they hoped it was good news and to try out their brand of vodka. I picked up a few shots of it on my way out the door at the liquor store. I appreciate that sort of relevant advertising. Obviously, I was looking for a bottle of vodka right then and I received a suggestion for a particular brand. I like it far better than Facebook reminding me that my profile says I'm single by flashing single's dating sites all over it's pages for me.

          To be fair, there are horror stories. My friend posted that she was going to go on a diet. Afterward, she suddenly had 40 new followers. All of them were accounts with 2 to 3 tweets with links to various diet plans. Twitter has since removed all 40 accounts, as she diligently reported all of them for spamming. Twitter still has some work to do to differentiate itself as a viable, highly targeted, and powerful advertising medium.

          Twitter has changed the game both for the users and the advertisers, and I think it's for the better. Twitter may be gone in 4 years, but the rules they've changed will probably persist in this form for some time beyond that.

          Social fad? Possibly. Game changer? Definitely. That's the point of Twitter.

    • Twitter isn't the same as Myspace, AOL, Facebook, etc. Twitter doesn't have a revenue stream except their funding from the VCs. The other companies you name do or at least did at one time where Twitter is .com 2.0.

      One factual error that you made is that you've implied that Facebook has peaked, they haven't peaked yet by any measure I've found, at least not yet, it is still growing.: []

      Probably no web service will be popular for the long term, that's not a measure o

  • by basementman ( 1475159 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:33PM (#28322225) Homepage

    Charging businesses as a way of monetizing twitter just doesn't make sense. First, how do you determine just who exactly is a business. Do you only include Dell right alongside mom and pop stores? Secondly the only reason the Dell is raking in the cash is because it offers exclusive deals, which it happens to put on twitter. If they did the same thing on FaceBook, or any other platform, I imagine they would have similar results.

    • by c_forq ( 924234 ) <> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:31PM (#28322569)
      I don't know if I agree. Twitter is kind of odd, its not like facebook or e-mail. It is as personal as a text message, yet as easily to ignore as a blog. It is also great to see not only what is going on in the world, but what people think about what is going on. This shows there is definitely value for twitter, and like you I agree they can't charge for commercial tweets, but I think there are many other options for them to make money (most likely through premium services, maybe allow longer posts at 5c an additional character, or more a more customizable profile for X dollars, or maybe customer leads based on their user data).
      • I don't know if I agree. Twitter is kind of odd, its not like facebook or e-mail. It is as personal as a text message, yet as easily to ignore as a blog.

        That doesn't make much sense. How is a text message more personal than email? They're both just plain text that can be addressed to as few as one or as many as millions of people. You could probably argue that email is more personal, because it allows the communication of much more information, thought, feeling, opinion, etc.

        maybe allow longer posts at 5c an additional character

        Unless they split the message or somehow convince the telecommunication companies to overhaul the SMS system, that isn't really possible.

        • by c_forq ( 924234 )

          How is a text message more personal than email?

          I don't know about you, but I don't get any spam via text, nor do I do any business via text. If I have a text, I know it is from a friend. It is immediate, I don't have to launch an app or log in. Maybe it is just my generation, but I have experienced a social ladder of communications (e-mail or facebook message for acquaintances, texting for friends, phone calls for good friends).

  • List. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kamineko ( 851857 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:47PM (#28322293)
    A simple of list of timely, valid coupons leads to increased sales. Who'd have thought it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:52PM (#28322331)

    "Dell has admitted to raking in over $3 million from advertising its products on Twitter."

    "Admitted"? What a curious choice of words, almost as if there were something wrong with a business making money! So Dell found a new way to boost sales. Good for them! I'm sure their stockholders appreciate the effort, even if /. doesn't.

  • by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:56PM (#28322355)

    As a software development company, we regularly use Twitter to see what people think of our software and try to improve it based on the feedback on Twitter. Twitter has also been a tremendous help in spreading our news announcements throughout the community. The business value is huge.

    Each time I'm baffled by how Slashdotters totally miss the point of Twitter, and try to paint it off as a useless website with no substance. It isn't about whether blogs/mailing lists/email/etc are better communication tools.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jo42 ( 227475 )

      We're sure you get in-depth and very useful feedback in 140 characters or less. Why don't you setup an online support forum for that kind of dialog with your customers?

      • by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:14PM (#28322459)

        There already is a support forum. There already is a bug tracker. Why do you think I still take the time to search Twitter for feedback?

        It usually goes like this. Somebody posts a complaint about Twitter, something like "Software XXX sucks, it says 'YYY', WTF?"
        These people are obviously too frustrated to take the time to ask something on the support forum. So instead of waiting for them to file a bug, I actively help them by providing a solution, or by asking them for more information. 9 out of 10 times they respond positively with more details. These are all feedback that we would never have gathered using just the support forum and the bug tracker.

        The fact that you mentioned the 140 characters limit already shows that you are totally missing the point. It is not the technology that matters, it's the social aspect. The 140 characters limit is irrelevant.

        • You just admitted that the 140 character list does matter. If 9 out of 10 responses require more information, clearly twitter is not a useful communication medium.

          These people are obviously too lazy to take the time to ask something on the support forum. FTFY.

          Stop catering to the lowest common denominator and you can actually spend time improving performance instead of fixing problems that I'm guessing users could solve more quickly and efficiently through the support forum and bug tracker.

          Business value i

          • by MrZaius ( 321037 )

            Business value isnt about the individual complaint; its about problems and tweaks that affect large groups of users.

            I call BS. If the parent poster can spare time to do this, it's a great thing. When I see this sort of proactive and aggressive outreach from customer service and developers at a firm that makes a product I'm looking at, I am much, much more likely to do business with them. Seems like common sense, and a fairly straightforward extension of the trend in the same direction long seen on myriad re

    • Business value != communication value.
      • With better communication I can improve user satisfaction. With better feedback I can improve my products. What part of this isn't business value? I think you're just in denial because you personally don't like Twitter.

        • Thank you for assuming what I like.

          Look, twitter is a great way for businesses to communicate directly with their customers, learn about their needs and tastes, and project a caring public image. But twitter needs to have value to non-businesses as well, to attract those customers in the first place. Otherwise, Twitter will become a ghost town with companies advertising to nobody. Right now, twitter is doing a fine job attracting regular people to its service, but we must understand why they are signing up

    • It isn't about whether blogs/mailing lists/email/etc are better communication tools.

      Then what is it about? Specifically, what can Twitter do that regular mass email can't?

      • That question of your is like asking "what can Python do that assembly cannot?" The answer is nothing: both are turing complete. The question in itself misses the point.

        For Python, it's productivity and being able to think and write on a higher level. Twitter is for posting all the small things that you'd normally not bother posting on a blog, such as a one-line feedback about a movie, on-line frustration about some new software you're using, or just what you're currently up to.

        What's the point of all this

    • As a software development company, we regularly use Twitter to see what people think of our software and try to improve it based on the feedback on Twitter. Twitter has also been a tremendous help in spreading our news announcements throughout the community. The business value is huge.

      I've heard that Site Catalyst does the same thing as your company, and those in our company that work with it have been trained to use Twitter instead of filing a formal help request. Not only do we get faster responses from

  • $3 million in revenue from Twitter in the last two years, versus what I count as roughly $100 billion in revenue over the past two years [] for Dell. That's not enough to qualify as a drop in the bucket. If I were Dell, I would laugh in Twitter's face if they demanded money-- they'd probably generate just as many sales by slipping fliers under people's windshields in parking lots.
  • How much is twitter making from all this free advertising?

  • by V50 ( 248015 ) * on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:22PM (#28322505) Journal

    Despite all this talk of Twitter, I still haven't figured out what, if anything, Twitter actually is. The two main descriptions that keep recurring are:

    A reimplementation of IRC over HTML and
    A site where people talk about how great Twitter is, and occasionally panic over current events

    Does that pretty much sum Twitter for non, uh, twits up?

    • I think Twitter can be best summed up as a tool with which people can spread short messages about what's on their mind. The "short" here is important:
      - It's similar to how many people put their mood or most recent activities in their MSN nick names, but more convenient.
      - Posting a message has an extremely low barrier. It's much easier to Twitter a message than to write an email, to post a forum message or to file a bug report.

      One would probably not understand the point of Twitter until one has seen how othe

      • That description both enlightened me and confused me more (as someone who has never used twitter and doesn't know how it works).

        I get why MSN(or whatever IM) greetings are useful, they throw potential conversation topics up so you can ask your friends "How was your trip down to San Diego?" or "Are you still swamped at work with that project?" because you know what they've been up to recently by casually scanning the contact list whenever you happen to be on.

        But I'm also more confused now, Twitter uses SMS m

        • You can use SMS messages but don't have to. I know you can use SMS to post but not whether you can use SMS to read. I've never used the SMS gateway though.

          As for me, I use it to gather feedback about my software. A lot of my users are using Twitter, and it's great for gathering the small on-line feedbacks that people would normally not bother to post on a support forum or a bug tracker.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        OK, Now I know for sure I am getting old.

        Although even in the past I would never have bothered people telling them what I was doing at what moment. If you wanted to know you could ask (afterwards) and then I could tell you or not, depending who you were. Also I do not tend to call people I have never met in person 'friends' and even many people I did meet IRL are often more "acquaintances" then friends.

        What I would be doing when would be nobodies business. That is what we called "privacy". With shows like "

        • Yeah I don't see many people above 40 using Twitter this way, but a lot of young people in their 20s use it.

          However, Twitter is not used purely to communicate with strangers online. More often than not, I see people using Twitter to communicate with people they already know in real life. Twitter becomes an extension to real life, not an alternative to real life.

    • The hell? What do you mean "if anything"? It doesn't matter if it's not a madly revolutionary concept or technical advancement.

      It always annoys me to hear people who know a bit about technology pointing out that something that's become popular isn't all that new an idea. It doesn't matter. What matters is that it is at least SOMEWHAT different to everything else. It could be the popularity or the layout or the logo. It doesn't matter what it is.

      In this case, you're just so wrong it's a bit surprising. The d

    • It's quite simple. It's a way for lots of people to have their own mailing lists, except it uses SMS messages instead of normal SMTP email. Other than that, and the obvious character limit that's part of SMS, it does absolutely nothing that mailing lists don't do.
    • I'd a more accurate description is an implemenation of SMS texting online and for everyone to see.
    • by eloki ( 29152 )

      A lot of Slashdotters seem to ascribe no value to Twitter, or maybe they're just more vocal. Here's my experience, and a general comment on the social media scorn we read here.

      Like perhaps many geeks/nerds I'm not a very social person, but I used a Twitter client that let me see messages from people in my local area (Sydney), much like an IRC channel except people write from places other than home/work. After a while of reading and occasional replying I found it quite enjoyable, followed a bunch and and man

    • Twitter is technically SMS on the Internet.

      For the layman it is subscription to telegrams. Imagine instead a publisher who publishes only telegrams of less than 140 characters, instead of whole articles or a magazine. And you can write back to the editor in 140 chars or less. It so happens that you can get these messages forwarded to your cell-phone and also send them from there. So it opens up some billions of users who don't have personal Internet access but carry a cell phone with unlimited texting/SMS

  • and employs proprietary software to track sales from users clicking through from Twitter links

    Seems like its only purpose is to invoke an anti-Dell sentiment by linking them to evil proprietary software.

  • Also consider that if the article is correct, Dell is doing this advertising completely within the Twitter rules and even the twitter mission. These are small, informative ads that are visible only to parties who have opted in. If Dell was spam creating users and following them as a way to push information to users, that would be different.

    Adding a paid service for some place like Dell would just muddy the waters. It would only lead to feature creep.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats