Sunday, October 24, 2010

Case Study: Virtua's Social Media Plan..." (Gartner)

This case study is a brief outline of a global information technology services company’s implementation of social media policy for employees. It discusses the steps Virtua took to educate employees on the potential benefits the firm could realize from responsible social media interaction with other employees and current/potential customers and the guidelines it wanted employees to follow.
In the end Virtua realized many benefits from the social media plan it launched, including sales leads, increased customer interaction, and a broader online presence. They also learned a few important lessons. I found a couple of these to be especially important.
First, though it is important to educate employees on the firms goals with social media and monitor their involvement, this must be done so "with a light touch". Slip-ups and misuse is bound to occur at some point, most likely early on in the game. It’s important to use these as a lesson to educate employees on what is and what is not appropriate. Second, not everyone has the same need to engage in social media. Having different requirements for different roles is preferable. I think this is important because forcing individuals to use social media really runs counter to the fundamental purpose of social media. You can't force people to talk to others, or like others in real life and this is true online as well. The interaction must be genuine, otherwise it’s not worth having (ever been stuck in an awkward conversation with someone you didn’t like or had no interest in talking to??).  
This case study is a brief outline of some important issues to consider when implementing social media in the workplace, it would be a nice supplement to broader research on implementation steps.



  1. Doug,
    I completely agree that employees must be educated about the goals of social media usage in the company as well as what is and is not appropriate for engaging in social media. You make a good point that employees should not be forced, and I had never thought about that before. It is always awkward when you are faced with someone you don't want to talk to but you do to be "polite," but who's to say it's polite to pretend to be nice or interested!? I really think that this sort of engagement will only be truly beneficial if the employees genuinely want to talk to their customers and that is not something that can be forced upon individuals by a corporation. People must be willing to embrace the concept before they will leverage it for advantage

  2. Doug,

    I liked the emphasis you made on the "light touch". While there should always be a general sense of right and wrong, appropriateness and not, the best way to learn invariably is from one's mistakes. Like you said there is likely to be a few errors initially as people work out the kinks in the system, however these should auto-correct themselves over time. There is definitely something to be said for a balance in giving users a direction, I think people would be hesitant to use it would any expectations at all, however, implement too many restrictions or requirements and people are using the tool not because they want to, but because they have to. Thus resulting in the dreaded forced use that is utter ineffective.

  3. Doug,

    I can appreciate the key takeaways you took from these readings. These are two good guidelines for companies to realize when implementing a social media strategy, but they might not be obvious to a company in these initial phases. As social media is relatively new, a company should be especially careful to 1) not scare off employees 2) not to push employees into it and have the reverse effect. It would be interesting to see examples of what happens to companies down the road depending on their initial approach to social media.

  4. In business, we are going to have to deal with difficult people whether we like it or not.

    I think it's necessary to become conflict diverse and learn to deal with all kinds of situations and people that we meet so that we don't limit ourselves too much customer wise.

    Social media is one possible avenue for facilitating conversations with people who are not always easy to communicate with...