10 years ago a Corporate Communicator could get their message out through distinct channels: television and newspapers. Today’s Corporate Communicator does not have those avenues because their audiences have moved. These new avenues offer more room for interaction. Many companies fear the switch from the traditional media to the internet. The old forms of advertising are one sided push communication. The internet opens up communication to two sided pull communication because the audience can go get the information they want from a company and respond appropriately.
IBM leads the way in two sided communication with their employee blogs and outlets for customers to communicate online. Casey Hibbard’s article “How IBM Uses Social Media to Spur Employee Innovation” discusses the new media tools and how a company can apply them to their industry and communication message. IBM understands that importance of communication with customers. Brands are now discussed online through the fingertips of the customers. To help this communication grow and prosper IBM has 100,000 employee blogs internally and also thousands of external employee bloggers. The company understands that their employees are extremely knowledgable, they tap into that knowledge by having an online location for the internal and external blogs.
The risks of a company blogging are high. Fired employees have a place to complain, the scorned customer can vent their concerns and the loyal competitor customer can comment their feelings on your page. While thinking about all these risks what are the benefits? IBM looks at the internet as a self regulating place where the positive commenters combat the negative ones. The popular phrase “the wisdom of crowds” proves true for IBM in their belief that the communication occurring with their employees and customers will result in positive information in the industry.
A smart company will acknowledge the intelligence of their employees but what is the next step. IBM has created a third party site called “A Smarter Planet Blog”. On this site IBM employees discuss issues in the world and how to fix problems. The bloggers are not focused on pushing products or a company mission. The forum is purely for discussion about transportation and business practices. Having more communication shows customers that IBM is here for more than just the bottom line, they are here for conversations and information growth.
IBM knows how to work efficiently and open the doors for communication without feeling overused or left out of the conversation. Although this company has over 400,000 employees in 170 countries they have found a way to communicate and stay relevant in a constantly changing media.
For more information on IBM’s social media practices…
Hobson, Neville. “IBM Publishes Guidelines For Employee Bloggers.” May 16 2005. WebProNews. Accessed: Oct 24 2010.
April, Carolyn. “IBM’s Commitment to Employee Leadership a Lesson for All.” Nov 30 2009. Channel Insider Blog. Accessed: Oct 24 2010.