This is the first in a series of short case studies in which I look at how global companies use social media tools and services for their (open) innovation efforts. These are quick-and-dirty case studies, but I do hope they can start discussions and perhaps inspire others on the use of social media tools and services for innovation.
The first company is Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish manufacturer, seller, installer, and servicer of wind turbines. It is the largest in the world, but due to very rapid growth of its competitors, its market share decreased from 28% in 2007 to 12.5% in 2009. The company employs more than 20,000 people globally. You can read further on Wikipedia.
Social media tools and services overview:
There is a huge number of social media tools and service. I focus on what I believe are the most relevant as explained in this blog post.
Communities: A Google search on Vestas + innovation shows a top link to an innovation network. The link leads to a page that requires a password. I thought this was a protected community, which makes sense. Not everything has to be open. However, when I entered a random name/password I was just taken to their front page. No explanation on what the network is about and how to get involved with this. This is not very professional.
I later found more information on a network so it seems to exist even though it seems to be very closed and low-key when it comes to using the potential of social media.
Twitter: Vestas has a very limited presence on Twitter. There seems to be only one official account – compare this to BASF – and the activity is sporadic. No wonder they only have about 4,000 followers. No specific focus on innovation.
LinkedIn: The people search shows 13,074 results with 5,110 employees in the core company. The group search shows 26 results. The corporate group has 3,103 members.
I have access to LinkedIn statistics showing that Vestas significantly lacks behind similar companies (similar industry, size) when it comes to annual corporate growth as reflected by LinkedIn member profiles.
Vestas has a LinkedIn platform that can be used for innovation and beyond, but they do not seem to make much use of it.
Google+: “Hey, we are trying this out” The one and only post on Google+ by Vestas. I wonder how long it will stay like this. Perhaps they should just have waited…
YouTube: Vestas has a pretty standard corporate channel with limited uploaded videos and limited views, but at least they have a platform with potential for further development. On innovation, this could include videos or animations with challenges that Vestas would like to get solved with the help from external resources.
SlideShare: Search shows no real activity; limited to a few presentations mentioning Vestas.
Quora: Search shows no activity.
Facebook: This was interesting. The Vestas page on Facebook led to a link on the Vestas Innovation Challenge 2012, which is a case solution competition for students. Nice way of using social media tools. Overall, the Facebook page has limited posts and limited activity.
The corporate website:
At the corporate website, I miss links that allow me to connect with Vestas’ channels on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. One reason for the lack of this could be that they are not satisfied with their own efforts on these channels.
Please note that the my comments on the corporate site are more about general issues than innovation. I did not find anything specific on innovation + social media on the corporate site.
Vestas has lots of opportunities to use social media tools and services for their innovation efforts. They fail to do so and I think a key reason is that they have not yet developed a strategy or purpose for doing so. Actually, I do not even think they have a strategy for using social media for other corporate reasons.
Sorry, Vestas, given your size, the innovation activity in your industry, the open innovation potential – and thus involvement through social media – I have to say that you need to do better than this.
Disclaimer: I did not talk with Vestas about this case study. They might have other initiatives that I do not know of that could have impacted my views on their efforts.