MELBOURNE: Telstra, the Australian telecoms giant, is taking a nuanced approach to Web 2.0, covering everything from customer service to reviewing products.

Alongside plans to introduce two tablets in 2010, the company is leveraging a range of digital channels when connecting with shoppers.

Having been one of the first firms to release official guidelines concerning how employees use platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it has also rolled out a mandatory scheme providing further instruction.

"We've trained 40,000 staff on social media," said Kristen Boschma, the organisation's head of online communications and social media.

"We're a media communications company and if our staff aren't using social media networks … then what are we all here for?"

"We needed to make it a permissive culture to do what Telstra enables everyone else to do."

Generating the best possible results requires moving beyond utilising this medium simply as a marketing tool, and making a positive input, Boschma continued.

"We as a corporation need to contribute to the social media ecosystem and be good citizens - that means we've got to contribute information," she argued.

"We can't constantly broadcast, we can't spam. I really genuinely believe we have a role and responsibility to do right by the ecosystem."

In keeping with such a stance, the launch campaign for Telstra's HTC Desire device earlier this year incorporated the views of consumers.

More specifically, it ran a competition asking netizens to apply if they were interested in testing the gadget and posting feedback online, yielding 2,200 entries.

"Traditionally what happens at Telstra is a new handset will come and we give it to our tech journalists, who go away and play with it for a couple of days and write their review in a newspaper," said Boschma.

"We thought: let's put that in the hands of the ecosystem."

The individuals selected were not given parameters regarding their output, save for declaring Telstra had furnished them with the phone.

"We wanted people to be honest - we didn't insist that they talk about Telstra, we didn't insist that they talk about anything. We just said, 'Here's the phone, go for it'," Boschma suggested.

"But those two conditions of transparency and honesty were, if you like, the parenthesises around that program that I think helped mitigate the risk."

Data sourced from Telstra; additional content by Warc staff