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Stepping out of the echo chamber
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Stepping out of the echo chamber


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Talk given at Digital Surrey on June 24th 2010 …

Talk given at Digital Surrey on June 24th 2010
How and why businesses can be more social online, and why they should

Published in: Technology, Business
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  • 1. Hello.

    2. I work for a large company.
    This presentation is partly inspired by my own personal story / journey inside that company in learning “how” to “be social” - but I’m not here to sell anything, just to share a point of view - my own.
    There are 380,000 employees in ~165 countries
    Employees are highly mobile
    Several large divisions
    ✦ Systems and Technology
    ✦ Consulting Services
    ✦ Software
    ✦ Research

    3. Certainly, IBM is nothing like this...
    4. Definitely also nothing like this...
    5. But actually... in my opinion... it’s a lot like this

    6. So let’s start by thinking about echo chambers

    7. What I mean by and dislike in the “echo chamber” is this.
    Companies that only talk to themselves inside tend to be:
    Self-reinforcing, inward-looking
    Believe their own hype

    8. In particular, I’ve noticed recently, how NOT to do social, especially at events
    Everyone inside the company re-tweeting each other... “look at us!”
    The idea that viral can always be created / induced... “suggested tweets” (!)

    9. Marilyn Pratt, SAP Community Evangelist spoke at SOMESSO 2009 about the idea of a “walking
    conversation” (based on Jane Jacobs)
    Listen, participate
    Create compelling content and reasons for people to point AT you and interact WITH you

    10. So how can we do things differently?

    11. Well, at IBM we’ve experimented with many different internal social networks and tools
    We have a programme called TAP, the Technology Adoption Program, through which the grassroots can keep on innovating

    12. Unleashing individuals and passions via blogs and media
    Weʼve been podcasting internally and externally for some time. We run weekly podcasts on developerWorks, and occasional interviews.
    Weʼve got demos and videocasts on YouTube... and youʼll find IBMers on Slideshare, Viddler and other sites too (, Dopplr... the list goes on)
    Weʼve been using social networks like to build communities like Greater IBM, our alumni network... and also extending that to LinkedIn, Facebook and Second Life
    Twitter enables us to both stay in touch with wider teams and communities, and build relationships with customers and analysts. This has been a great tool for developing individual connections, and weʼve been using similar tools internally.
    We have IBM groups on Facebook which enable us to build communities there. Some of my clients have connected with me there, for example. Thereʼs been some recent controversy about Facebook from a privacy and time wasting perspective, but thereʼs an element of common sense here - and it does help to build networks.
    Even a social music site like Last.FM can help to build communities -


    14. At IBM we started with some guidelines. It’s probably foolish to go without.
    They are linked with our general Business Conduct Guidelines.
    “In 1997, IBM recommended that its employees get out onto the Net - at a time when many companies were seeking to restrict their employees' Internet access. We continue to advocate IBMers' responsible involvement today in this new, rapidly growing space of relationship, learning and collaboration.”
    So IBM’s embrace of these technologies builds on a history of innovation.
    The message - don’t fear employees, competitors or the public - let them engage constructively
    Our blogging guidelines are widely recognised, used as a template, and have been used as a basis for other policies covering podcasting, virtual worlds and conduct in social media

    15. Guidelines and continued education and awareness are important
    If well-educated and employees feel trusted, there’s less need for policing



    18. One final book recommendation
    Business must adapt to social technology... if companies are not social then employees will go elsewhere

    19. So let’s try something new... what I’m going to declare “social alchemy”

    20. Bringing it back to this group, to Digital Surrey
    It has been growing wonderfully, organically through word of mouth, interest, and trust
    Diversity is the key strength and we straddle all kinds of business areas and interests

    21. Thank you
    Images thanks to CC-licensed images from Flickr (credited per-slide) and
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  • 1. Stepping out of the online echo chamber aka, how companies can be more social in business, and why they should or simply, some random waffling about “social@work” Andy Piper
  • 2. IBM has over 380,000 employees; over 50% are mobile
  • 3.
  • 4. Dynamic, social, active
  • 5. What do you mean, “online echo chamber”?
  • 6. We love ourselves… But who can tell why?
  • 7. Some events can do “social” really badly...
  • 8. Don’t just broadcast: Listen, create, respond, provide content
  • 9. Time to change!
  • 10. Some of the tools... ! Lotus Connections ! Profiles (a social network) ! Blogs ! Bookmarks/Dogear ! Activities (for leading a project) ! Communities ! Wikis ! Files (document sharing) ! Sametime Unyte – eMeetings ! SocialBlue (like Facebook) ! Microblogging ! Connections ! Twitter ! Bluetwit
  • 11. Networks, microbrands, & guerilla marketing
  • 12. Empower Educate Trust Your people are your brand “Use social media as a means to expose IBM's experts - and expertise - to the world” (Adam Christensen, IBM Social Media Communications)
  • 13. Spring 2005
  • 14. Spring 2005 May 2008
  • 15. Summary: • Follow the BCGs • Take personal responsibility • Include a disclaimer • Don’t cite clients guidelines.html • Don’t pick fights EU + FTC rules!
  • 16. Results: New ideas New conversations
  • 17. Happier employees, happier and more engaged customers
  • 18. Try a little… Social alchemy
  • 19. “magic” (sometimes called innovation) happens here
  • 20. Diversity = strength Word-of-mouth = trust Networks = value
  • 21. Connect We podcast YOUR tags!