Dell has provided further proof of the potential of Twitter for retailers, revealing that it has earned $6.5m in worldwide revenues from Twitter over the past two years.

Revealed in a blog post today, This figure includes sales from the @DellOutlet Twitter account, which now has almost 1.5m followers, and its equivalents outside of the US.

I’ve been looking at the figures, as well as talking to Dell’s Richard Binhammer about the company’s approach to Twitter and social media in general…

While the original @DellOutlet Twitter account was revealed in June to have generated $3m for the company, the growth of revenues outside of the US is also impressive. 

The Canadian @DellHomeSalesCA account has generated $150,000 in less then a year, while in just seven months, the Brazilian equivalent (@dellnobrasil) has driven $800,000 in sales.

Dell also talks about its reach on various forms of social media, and by aggregating its presence on Twitter, YouTube and other community sites, as well as its own forums, it calculates its worldwide community at 3.5m people.

I talked to Dell’s Richard Binhammer (aka @RichardatDELL) about the figures, and the reasons for Dell’s success on Twitter:

How has Dell approached selling via Twitter?

In our case, the Dell Outlet Twitter account is attractive because of what it offers. Customers never know what inventory we will have, and offers will change from day to day, and this appeals to significant numbers on Twitter that are looking for special offers.

So, the value is there for consumers, but Dell also gets involved in conversations on Twitter, it’s not all about selling. With the Dell Outlet account, it’s clear what its purpose is to people, but it’s not just a one way thing.

People can contact Stefanie, who runs the account, with any questions, or follow her on Twitter, and her personal interactions with customers has to be attributed to the success.

The success is down to a combination of a) being there on Twitter for people who are looking for us or our products. b) offering sales opportunities that are meaningful to consumers, and c) interacting with people.

What is Dell’s approach to social media?

We believe fundamentally that our involvement in social media and the community we have reached gives us a competitive advantage. The company was founded in 1997 on a direct business model.

While some people may assume that it is all about manufacturing and customisation, it is really about going direct to the customer, and social media is perfect for this. 

For example, if two people are sitting in Starbucks talking about Dell computers, that conversation is happening without us. On the web though, we can become a part of it, and this is a huge strategic asset for us.

Apart from the very tangible rewards in terms of sales, how else do you approach social media measurement? What are the other benefits from Dell’s social media engagement?

We have measured a significant improvement in overall sentiment towards us online. We know that we’ve made improvements to business processes and products thanks to the web.

Also, by listening carefully, we have been able to harness social media as an early alert system. For example, if customers are having issues with a new product and we nee to develop new drivers, then we can get this information early through the web.

This enables us to react quicker, and means we often get this information six weeks earlier than we would have done otherwise. Customers can raise issues directly to us online, and we can make changes quickly.

Business are often looking for one single ROI from social media, but people chasing this are misguided. It’s about setting business objectives and using the web to measure these.

So at Dell, as well as selling through Dell Outlet, our objectives are to listen to what is being said about us and our products online, to learn from this, and use it to improve, as well as talking to and interacting with people.