MIS Quarterly Executive


Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook enable the creation of virtual customer environments (VCEs) where online communities of interest form around specific firms, brands, or products. While these platforms can be used as another means to deliver familiar e-commerce applications, when firms fail to fully engage their customers, they also fail to fully exploit the capabilities of social media platforms. To gain business value, organizations need to incorporate community building as part of the implementation of social media. This article starts by describing the Fortune 500’s use of four of the most popular social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and client-hosted forums—to interact with customers. We then argue that to gain full business value from social media, firms need to develop implementation strategies based on three elements: mindful adoption, community building, and absorptive capacity. Next, we use case studies of three Fortune 100 corporations to illustrate how they are managing their respective networks of social media applications. Finally, we provide guidelines for implementing social media.