It is not uncommon to see companies restricting (or even worse, banning) use of Social Networking sites by their employees. I don’t think that this is a step in the right direction. If companies can trust their employees to run business, can’t they be trusted when it comes to using Social Media in an acceptable way?
IBM is a great example of how companies should handle employees’ use of Social Media. IBM has approximately 400,000 employees spread through out the world, still it allows them to use Social Media without much restrictions. Casey Hibbard has written an excellent blog post on how IBM uses Social Media to spur employee innovation (see this link).
As per Casey’s post, IBM lets employees communicate with each other and the public over Social Media channels without intervention. This in spite of the fact that IBM has:
- A few thousand “IBMers” on Twitter
- Thousands of external bloggers,
- Almost 200,000 on LinkedIn
- 17,000 internal blogs
- 100,000 employees using internal blogs
- 53,000 members on SocialBlue (like Facebook for employees)
- As many as 500,000 participants in company crowd-sourcing “jams”
- 50,000 in alum networks on Facebook and LinkedIn
Watch this CNBC interview with Adam Christensen, IBM’s Social Media Communications Manager and John Abell, New York Bureau chief, Wired.com. According to Adam, IBM’s job is to help employees go out and have conversations that they want to, so that they can lead the business they are involved in. Not allowing employees to use Social Media is “short sighted” and companies will be “missing an opportunity”. (watch this video for more)
To succeed in this new age, it is important to embrace and adopt changes brought about by Social Media. And for that to happen, it is critical that organizations have proper guidelines for Social Media use by their employees. Employees should be allowed to use Social Media freely within those guidelines. (for IBM’s guidelines, see this link and for an excellent database of Social Media usage policies of 116 organizations, see this link).
I want to end this post by sharing a thought provoking video on how the workforce is changing in Social Media Age. Please watch this video and let me know if companies should restrict employees’ Social Media use.