How IBM Uses Social Media to Spur Employee Innovation

IBM doesn’t have a corporate Twitter ID because “we want the IBMers in aggregate to be the corporate blog and the corporate Twitter ID,” says Adam Christensen, social media communications at IBM Corporation. “We represent our brand online the way it always has been, which is employees first. Our brand is largely shaped by the interactions that they have with customers.”

Thousands of IBMers are the voice of the company. As it turns out, its decentralized social media approach is another milestone in the company’s history—driving unprecedented collaboration and innovation. IBM lets employees talk—to each other and the public—without intervention. With a culture as diverse and distributed as IBM’s, getting employees to collaborate and share makes good business sense.

IBM does have social media guidelines. The employee-created guidelines basically state that IBMers are individually responsible for what they create and prohibit releasing proprietary information. But the document lacks any mention of brand messages or values. Nor does IBM corporate regulate employee social media activity. Only three people hold social media roles at the corporate level, and oversight isn’t part of their jobs.

“We don’t police. The community’s largely self-regulating, and so there hasn’t really been a need to have someone go about and circuit these boards and blogs,” Christensen said. “Employees sort of do that themselves… And that’s worked wonderfully well.”

Check out IBM’s Culture for Social Media Innovation in this case study by Casey Hibbard on The Social Media Examiner.