Year of Incorporation:

1911

Staff Strength:

400,000+

Industry Focus:

Technology and Consulting

Sales Turnover:

S$99.9 bil

Net Income:

S$14.8 bil

International Business Machines (IBM)

(Social Media Usage)

Background of company

With an increase in the number of people using social media tools for communication purposes, more and more companies are leveraging on these social networks to better engage their employees. IBM is a great example of a company that has used the social media space to augment its employee relations. Despite having a global workforce of over 400,000 employees, the company has succeeded in creating its presence online without imposing strict guidelines.

Autonomy in use of social media

It is a belief of the company that by providing autonomy in the use of social media, employees will appreciate the freedom to communicate with one another and will use that privilege entrusted in them to regulate this communication platform themselves. In fact, IBM’s social media guidelines are created by the employees themselves. It simply states that employees are not allowed to release confidential information, and are personally responsible for the content posted online. This shows that IBM has faith in its own employees and trusts that they will be mature enough to self-monitor and regulate their online behavior.

Integrating employee engagement with the business

Apart from utilising commonly used social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, IBM also uses internal tools such as internal blogging platforms for employees exchange ideas and discuss a range of topics. In addition, the company runs three-day long online forums, referred to as company “jams” to discuss research projects within IBM. Participants of this event consisted of IBMers, their friends, families and even clients and resulted in the top 10 projects with the most votes becoming incubator businesses and earning a seed funding of US$100 million.

Integrating social media into the company came naturally for IBM, which saw this as a natural progression to its open corporate culture. Many of its employees were already blogging and writing in online forums prior to these initiatives, and therefore these new initiatives were quickly embraced by them.

These efforts have succeeded in linking and bonding employees from different areas, businesses, roles and countries through sharing of thoughts and ideas to improve the company.

<Adapted from Social Media Examiner.com and Melcrum Publishing>