Where are the case studies that matter?

Or at least, where are the social media case studies that matter to me. The reason I’m calling for this is that most of the cases I see or hear about aren’t always that usable to me. There are learnings in every case, but most of the time those examples have one or a few things in common that make them difficult for me to use. I need other cases, other than the ones people keep sharing at the moment, so where are those cases that are:

  • NOT from an online business: Zappos is the first that comes to mind. If you’re in e-business it’s also easier to create and measure a valid social online presence. There’s an immediate link with your business to be made online, there’s an immediate link to be made with sales online, that’s not the case for everyone.
  • NOT from a tech company: Microsoft, DELL, … I’ve worked for Microsoft myself and even 4-5 years ago there were about 5.000 bloggers active within the company. The company was actually active in social media before The Company was active in social media (if you know what I mean). You got a whole bunch of tech savvy people together, I can tell you from my experience that is a very different starting point than when you try and set this up with your average FMCG brand for instance
  • NOT from the U.S.: Ford, Starbucks, … great brands moving the needle in social and proving that it makes a difference for the whole business. With someone like Scott Monty at Ford, they are able to test and build social web experiences and applications, monitor etc but don’t forget that most of the learnings from this only work for a market as big as the U.S. The team, the tools, the costs, … for a market in one main language and with something like 300 M people is quite different from any market in Europe for instance. And a Pan-European approach might have the same scale but also that still requires a pretty different approach. There is no Europe basically ;)
  • NOT from a social media company: Social Media Examiner, Hubspot, … their business is in social media, it would be kind of sad if they didn’t know how to make it work for themselves right?
  • NOT from an indivitual or a 2 person company: There are obviously plenty of examples around like this – Choqoa from a friend of mine is a great example of a case like this. But it’s different when the business is basically yours and when you’re passionate about social media and understands how things work versus getting things organized in your regular mid-sized or big companies. You just have to start, you’re convinced and there’s no-one else around, no steering committees or anything like that. And that makes a huge difference.
  • NOT initiated by a negative experience: DELL Hell, Kryptonite, … we’ve all seen and heard of these examples plenty of times. And it’s great to see the turnaround DELL did after all the negative buzz they got at the start. But when I want to show people the opportunity that is social media, not why it’s a good tool to set up your defense systems.
  • NOT just a link or a screenshot: Last but not least, it’s great to get a link of a nice example but I’m really looking for cases so I’d like to see more information, data or at least people’s opinions around why this is a good or a bad case.

So don’t get me wrong. We’ve probably all learned certain lessons from some of the examples mentioned above and we should have. But on a day to day basis I cannot use much of the learnings I ‘ve got from these examples given the nature of those cases versus the situations I think many of us are dealing with on a daily basis.

So if you know a good case that is none of the above, please let me know. And share my request with your friends if that’s not too much to ask ;)

Photo by Andy Ciordia



  1. Well .. they’re everywhere.
    Sad truth: we (including you) don’t care. Unless we need them that is :)

    Yes, I’m exaggerating, you got that, right ;)

    Fact is, we need some context to interpret / understand / or see the beauty of a case. Creating that context takes time, especially for the receptor .. time we rarely want to invest. Hence .. we don’t care.

    What we do care about is these “special” cases you mention above. Because there we have some context, or are interested enough to invest time in it. It’s these examples that become iconic, stylized really, that burn little holes in our brains so we can remember them for starters. It’s these cases that illustrate a point, and serve as a starting point to get things moving.

    Too bad cases are mainly used to convince a client an idea is worth exploring. This sometimes devaluates strategic planning to “finding the right case”. Sure, cases help you understand certain dynamics .. but it’s based on this understood dynamics great work can emerge. And experience, gut feeling, ..

    This is no critique to you Kris. I understand your question, we share some common grounds there. But I believe these common grounds are in the end a frustration .. frustration why always the same cases serve as an example, and most of all, why you always need an example to rationalize an idea.

    Reality bites. Sometimes.

    1. Kris Hoet says:

      It’s indeed the frustration to see the same examples again and again, in a situation where they are indeed inspirational (once) but that there are several specific elements linked to Europe that are never taken into account. My frustration on this is also not new, even in my EU role at MSFT this was the case.

      Still, I’m interested to see more of not-the-same to learn from, together with our own cases ofcourse. Willing to share those myself just as much btw.

  2. Gavin Heaton says:

    Check your Hotmail ;)

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