Innovation+Opportunity – Like Minds 2011

I had the pleasure to be one of the speakers at #likeminds 2011. Thank you to @scottGould and the crew for such a fantastic event.Theme of #likeminds conference this year was: Innovation+Opportunity: How to build brands, businesses and communities for tomorrow. Three days of learning, connecting and discussing the latest in media and the entrepreneurial spirit in the cosy city of Exeter….We are LikeMinds

I have captured some of the questions that I had from the #LikeMinds community and in particular during the lunch that I was asked to host on the last day. I  shared with you my answers … in the hope that this will help you to bring this to your respective organisations.

1) Do you have examples of when employees have inappropriately shared confidential information / or damaged brand by using their own or their employers’ social media account.

Under the social computing guidelines at IBM, we ask that IBMers be mindful of what they publish as it will be public for a long time and they are personally responsible for that content. We also ask that they clearly identify themselves and that when they choose to discuss IBM or IBM-related matters, they make it clear that they are speaking on their own behalf and not on behalf of IBM. It’s vital to any organization’s social strategy to stress transparency with their employees. We don’t have any specific instances to share.  But, at IBM, there’s no gray area when it comes to sensitive information, for IBM’s protection as well as for the IBMers’, we ask that they refrain from discussing IBM confidential or proprietary information. If there’s a question about information you might like to post, approach management to discuss, simple as that.

2) Are there technical tools for preventing this happening or monitoring what employees may be saying (even if they don’t mention company name)? Or do you need you social media managers to be “watching”.
The role of a social media strategist at IBM is not to be “watching” but rather to educate our employees on social media and enable them with content – whether its suggested Tweets, blog topics, videos, etc. I removed Community Manager from my vocabulary and tell our teams around the world that we don’t manage a community, it’s the community who manages you!

We make the information they’re interested in available so that they can talk about it on the social media platform of their choice. We don’t force them to participate, but we do encourage them to establish a digital reputation and offering suggestions helps to get the ball rolling and guides the content they put out to the public.

3) Opinions on the impact of social media training or handbooks – how much do you need to educate staff on responsible use? Can you realistically educate all staff? What can you do as a small company and you don’t even get social media yourself.

As an organization who is committed to implementing a social strategy, especially one that’s on the journey to become a social business, it’s your responsibility to educate your employees on social media use. Not everyone will participate, but if you make the resources available that’s half the battle.
At IBM we offer a huge catalogue of educational modules all around how to get involved in social computing. They learn how to use social computing tools to foster collaboration, disseminate and consume news, develop networks, forge closer relationships, and build credibility.
Our experience with this has evolved over time: Back in 2007, we used a Wiki and about 250 IBMers wrote our Social Computing Guidelines collaboratively.
Today, we offer educational modules around why IBMers need social computing, we provide examples of how IBMers have used social digital experiences to improve customer interaction, sales, business value, various business process. We offer a Social Computing Demystified course and then we have a course about IBM’s digital strategy in general.
This is all available to every IBMer on an internal site, Social Business @ IBM. It’s a one stop educational resource for the IBMer that wants to establish their digital reputation and two-fold, help to enhance IBM’s brand.
As a result of IBM’s commitment to social computing education, IBMers are better informed and prepared to take action over social media platforms.
For small organizations, you can’t implement a social strategy unless your leadership is educated. It starts from the top. Savvy businesses know that creating an online presence can heighten awareness and ultimately bring in new business. What’s often ignored, however, is that without a clear plan and direction in place before a company begins using social media, it can easily fail.
IBM actually helps SMBs on this journey. We have programs to help non-profits and our business partners, who at 100,000 strong are traditionally small businesses, embrace social media.  For example, IBM hosts full day workshops, grants, provides toolkits and incentives and free education for our business partners on establishing and rolling out effective social media business plans.

4) Should companies be more relaxed about how employees use social media? After all, you adopted social media to be bring a human face to your company. Can you complain if the humans do not always behave in a corporate way?

Organizations who choose to embrace the Internet should establish a series of guidelines for their employees to protect both the organization, the brand and the employee.
Guidelines should not be a set of rules imposed from above, they are meant to provide helpful, practical advice to protect both the employee/social media practitioner and the organization.
The social computing guidelines we have in place at IBM are a living manifestation of who we are and what we value as an organization. They are an expression of each IBMers’ personal responsibility to demonstrate the highest standards of trust, ethics and responsibility in every action, over every platform. We’re working everyday to support IBMers as they leverage social networks, our guidelines serve not as a set of rules, but as a resource to help them on their journey to establishing a digital reputation.
At IBM, our Social Computing Guidelines include all forms of online publishing and discussion, including blogs, wikis, file-sharing, user-generated video and audio, virtual worlds and social networks. These social computing guidelines are an extension of the organization’s Business Conduct Guidelines which apply to IBMers’ activities in general, beyond social media platforms. They have established a set of core values that IBMers take very seriously.
If an IBMer has any confusion about whether they ought to publish something online, chances are our business conduct guidelines will resolve it for them. So really, our social media policy is an extension of the organization’s values and code of business conduct – the medium may change but the message is consistent.
There are a few fundamental concepts that we feel are important to be specific about, across all social media platforms and really in any business activity, but perhaps the most important is transparency – be who you are. The lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred in online social networks, so its imperative that the employee clearly identify who they are, where they work, and take ownership of the materials posted.
At IBM we’re mindful that having an open dialogue between our employees and partners, clients, and members of the many communities in which we participate and the general public is inherent in our business model of innovation, and in our commitment to the development of open standards. We believe that IBMers can both derive and provide important benefits from exchanges over social platforms and that’s why we’re making it a priority to educate our employee base on how to use social media and enabling them with content and ideas so that they’re better prepared to take action over these platforms.
Organizations should realize that having their employees out on the social web can actually provide immense business value and brand recognition.
There also has to be a foundation of trust between an organization and its employee.
One of the core values at IBM is “trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.” As a company, IBM trusts—and expects—IBMers to exercise personal responsibility whenever they participate in social media.

5) As a last resort, what are the legal aspects to social media slander, brand defamation etc. Are they any different to print/web? Can you/would you prosecute?

This goes back to the trust an organization needs to have with its employees in order to have a successful social strategy. Listing repercussions or legal actions in your organization’s social computing guidelines does not exude a feeling of trust. However, it is important to remind employees in the guidelines that there are always consequences to what they publish. Ultimately, they have sole responsibility for what they post to their blog or publish in any form of online social media. And they should be confident that their online activities do not interfere with their job or commitments to customers.
Your social computing guidelines should be an extension of your organization’s code of business conduct guidelines and values, therefore it doesn’t matter what the medium is, there are expectations and employees should be held accountable for them whether its through print media, social media or traditional business practices.
It’s obviously the hope that allowing your employee base to explore social media platforms will never come to the point where you have to consider prosecution. If you educate and enable your employees, build a foundation of trust, and stress transparency, you should not have to worry about taking legal actions.
I will leave you with one final thought :A company committed to moving to the future must never stop changing what lies ahead promises to be even more radical, and even more transformative”.


And yes, I have to admit… I love my...









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