You might think the social media accounts of a huge technology company like IBM would be dry and dull. Actually, they're entertaining and informative! Believe it or not, IBM was an early adopter of social networking that even predates the widespread use of Twitter.
IBM's social history
IBM foresaw the popularity of social media way back in 2007 and launched Lotus Connections, a product that rolled five social networking applications into a single integrated package. Since it was aimed at the corporate social and collaborative environment, the apps focused around tools that allowed workers to communicate with each other via blogs, profiles, and common community areas.
Fast forward to 2010. Over 200,000 IBM employees had LinkedIn accounts and a few thousand IBM workers were on Twitter, though the company had no official Twitter account (though they joined the service in 2009). 53,000 employees also used the IBM's in-house Facebook-like social network.
Over the years, IBM's support of enterprise social networking has continued to grow. Last year, the company announced a partnership with Twitter designed to help companies reach maximum engagement with their followers.
"There are three basic elements. First, we are going to integrate Twitter data with our cloud analytics tool to make it easy for customers to reach it. The second is, we'll team up to make solutions for very specific business needs, such as marketing and customer care. Lastly, IBM will train and certify 10,000 consultants on a global basis to be experts of the Twitter platform," IBM's Alistair Rennie, general manager of the company's Business Analytics group, told Fortune.
IBM's social presence today
Given IBM's alliance with Twitter, it makes sense the company would have several accounts to serve different types of customers. Their main account has over 156,000 followers and keeps customers up to date on new product launches, software updates, and studies. Ancillary accounts let customers know about upcoming events, share news with developers, or promote the company's news releases.
IBM also has a heavy presence on Facebook. Their main page keeps customers in the know with general news and information about IBM, while secondary pages discuss topics like social business and career development.
IBM's whimsical side shines through on it's Instagram account. In addition to visually stunning images that represent their products and corporate culture, the marketing team often posts pictures of IBM offices from around the globe. Visitors to the site are often encouraged to caption photos or leave a comment for employees. IBM's Instagram account is a neat peek behind the scenes of a mega-corporation.
A photo posted by IBM (@ibm) onJan 7, 2015 at 8:33am PST
Social engagement doesn't stop there, however. IBM also runs several YouTube channels, a Vine account, and, of course, a LinkedIn page. The company has over 37,000 followers on Google+ and even manages collection of Pinterest boards on various topics like Women in Tech, Big Data, and IBM History.
How IBM does it
If you think that managing all those sites requires a lot of hands on deck, you'd be right. Each social media account has at least two people managing it and the entire team is required to follow the company's strict Social Computing Guidelines. The guidelines are updated periodically as the social networking landscape changes to make sure activity across all channels is the best it can be.
IBM saw the writing on the wall when social networking was in its infancy and new it was destined to become an everyday part of the way companies do business. From their first foray into social media to their clever uses of today's newest platforms, IBM has always forged it's own distinct path in the social arena.
Image: Courtesy IBM / NBC News