Tag Archives: social computing

Trust and empowerment are key

From a great post about the ESPN and USMC social media rules / bans:

You might not expect a corporate juggernaut like IBM to lead the way when it comes to creating effective social media guidelines for its employees, yet here we are: IBM was one of the first enterprise-size companies to not only recognize the need for such a document, but also to deliver an adequate set of guidelines within it that made sense and allowed its culture to spread. IBM recognized that treating its employees like responsible adults rather than dangerous little children might yield pretty good results.

Indeed. I’ve written about IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines before, and I’ve spoken about them at conferences. I’ve also repeatedly opined that blocking access is counterproductive. It’s important to note that the guidelines were written collaboratively, and they are linked to IBM’s existing standards of professional conduct (the Business Conduct Guidelines) which employees agree to annually. Folks at the leading edge of technology continue to inform and educate the rest of the organisation on good practices and behaviours in these online social spaces.

Let’s end with another of the many quotable extracts from Olivier Blanchard’s post today:

The risk here is not the medium, it is the behavior. Ban access to the medium and you solve nothing: The behavior is still there, only now, you are blind to it. Double-fail.

Oh, in case you’re new around here: I’m an IBMer. My opinions may differ from IBM’s official line from time to time, but that’s OK. My employer trusts me, and I appreciate that.

About these ads

IBM and the Twittersphere

This was one of those comments you start to write on someone else’s blog entry, which morphed into a post all of its own.

As an IBMer who Twitters, I’m pretty astonished that the company hit this list of “brands that suck on Twitter”… in common with Adam, Ed and Ryan’s comments on the post (which Ed follows up in a post of his own).

I’ve spoken about the organisation’s engagement with social media of all kinds before. Looking at my own Twitter usage, I would guess that of my current ~500 followers/followees, a fair percentage of them are folks from across the company I want to keep in touch with, or people that share common technology interests that I want to learn from or that are watching and listening to me. I have search feeds set up for topics of interest (products, brand names, etc.) in my feedreader and make an effort to check what people are saying about our stuff – where necessary I highlight those comments to people internally, or try to talk to the original commenter. I’ve observed IBMers using Twitter to build communities and connections across the company, and with both customers and others outside it too.

I guess that the original post bases the assessment on the @IBM account alone, and reaches the conclusions it does… but look at all the ways in which we use social media and you might arrive at a different endpoint. I’d say we’re listening, engaging, talking, and take these communities seriously.

Adam Christensen sums it up neatly in his comment on the original post, also re-quoted by Ed Brill:

IBM is nothing more than a collection of a gazillion individual IBMers. Really smart ones for the most part, I think. And thousands of those folks are on Twitter. So rather than have a centralized – yet generic – IBM account, we’ve opted for a decentralized approach and let those many individuals be the IBM face to the Twitter world.

Actually that has been our approach with social networks from the outset. If there was a single @IBM account that tweeted about everything that the company touches it would be pretty noisy – our business is diverse. Instead, you can choose to engage with individuals and what their individual voices offer. I think it’s a nice way of working, and I like that my company trusts us to be out there.

IBM’s updated Social Computing Guidelines

IBM has had some guidelines for employees who want to blog for a while now. They’ve been very helpful for those of us wanting to go out and start blogging externally, and the principles also apply to our behaviour internally, and across many of the social media tools that we use. I always refer to them as “lightweight”, by which I mean they take a relatively light touch, don’t attempt to impose control, encourage us to be respectful and sensible, and generally fit in with our existing standards of behaviour. They’re largely common sense.

Over the past couple of months we’ve been working collaboratively to update the guidelines. We did this in the same way that we developed the original document – via a wiki, and some lively discussion on our internal blogging platform.

The new IBM Social Computing guidelines can now be found on the IBM website. They’ve been extended to talk a little about new technologies beyond blogging (social networks, media sharing sites, and so on), and just generally tweaked to ensure that we’re taking account of changes in online behaviours over the past couple of years. One of the things I like is that we’ve actually made very few changes to the document, and certainly no major revisions… I think that again demonstrates the “light touch” and flexibility of the original guidelines and the level of trust that IBM is showing in its employees. For me, this is a good place to be.