Published: December 06, 2007

Talk smart

For the last two days I attended a really good conference on social media. There were speakers from Yahoo!, Dell, IBM, as well as several lesser-known players and experts. Much of the content was on blogging and forums and online comments. (By the way, one of the more prominent bloggers bragged that his gets about 150,000 visits each month; blogpipe gets about 120,000.)

Given my recent post wondering why prominent bands prohibit their members from contributing to online discussions, two things at the conference jumped out at me.

Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and IBM, to name a few companies, don’t just permit, they encourage, every one of their employees to blog and discuss things online. IBM has about 330,000 employees, and about a tenth of them run a blog. Imagine having to track what 30,000 employees are saying.

Thing is, IBM doesn’t track them. They trust their employees not to divulge secrets and to conduct themselves in a responsible manner. They don’t worry about it.

Microsoft’s official blogging policy is “Blog smart.” That’s it. Sun’s official policy is “Don’t be an idiot.” I’m serious.

What corporate problems have these companies had after three or so years of employees blogging and contributing to social media? None.

Why do these companies want employees to contribute to online conversations? Because they know that the ones who will are those who are passionate about what they do. It can only be good for the company, and so far it is.

Microsoft and IBM, for example, have gone from being seen as closed-mouthed and secretive to being sharing and genuine. The social media policy of these organizations has resulted in an improved overall image for their brand.

So, yeah, pipe bands should act like today’s smart businesses, and contribute to the dialog.

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