Big Blue and the Social Revolution

By John Mancini posted 05-05-2010 15:08


Organizations often make three big mistakes when it comes to thinking about how to create a policy environment to govern employee interaction with social technologies.

  1. They react without thinking. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Far too often, when executives hear the term social media, they immediately think, "Aha! Facebook!" and then "We can't have our employees wasting time on that kind of stuff! Shut it down!" Indeed, in the recent AIIM State of the Industry Survey (soon to be released), 40-50% of organizations indicate that they systematically block access to some or all of the following: Facebook, YouTube, Instant Messaging and Twitter. It reminds me of the early days of e-mail and desktop deployment of the internet -- "We can't make that kind of stuff available to employees! They'll abuse it! They'll waste time! They'll send the company secrets out the door! It should only be available to EXECUTIVES!"
  2. They confuse inside the firewall with outside the firewall. Using "Facebook-like" and "Twitter-like" tools to foster internal communication and networking inside the firewall is far different from using the tools themselves out in the big wide world. And yet they are often just put in the same bucket, and simplistically approached with the same blunt instruments.
  3. They approach policy from a technology perspective rather than an HR perspective. I run into lots of organizations who say, "We need a Facebook policy!" "We need a Twitter policy!" "We need a LinkedIn policy!" "We need a policy on wikis!" and then drive themselves nuts trying to deal with each successive generation and permutation of technology. The point is conduct -- what is acceptable, and what is not -- not the tool kit.

During my keynote at AIIM On Demand this year (2,516 views and counting! download HERE), I mentioned the success that IBM has had with social technologies, and how impressed I was that a company the size and scope of IBM could basically strip down a policy for something as complicated as social computing to 12 points and just a couple of pages.

A number of people came up afterwards and asked where they could find the policy. 

Well, ask and you shall receive. HERE is where you can find the complete policy.

And here are its 12 main points:

IBM Social Computing Guidelines: Executive Summary

  1. Know and follow IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines.
  2. IBMers are personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated media. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time—protect your privacy.
  3. Identify yourself—name and, when relevant, role at IBM—when you discuss IBM or IBM-related matters. And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.
  4. If you publish content to any website outside of IBM and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions."
  5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  6. Don't provide IBM's or another's confidential or other proprietary information. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to IBM.
  7. Don't cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval. When you do make a reference, where possible link back to the source.
  8. Respect your audience. Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in IBM's workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others' privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion.
  9. Find out who else is blogging or publishing on the topic, and cite them.
  10. Be aware of your association with IBM in online social networks. If you identify yourself as an IBMer, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and clients.
  11. Don't pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
  12. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. IBM's brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on IBM's brand.

What is your company or organization doing?

What kind of policies are you putting in place to govern social computing?

Or are your executives just reacting, "Hell no!"


Previous posts that may be of interest:



#HR #policy #IBM #E20 #humanresources