IBM: Building a brand though those who know it best

Amanda Houseman    October 9, 2013

IBM is proving that allowing employee engagement in corporate social media is not only valuable, it’s profitable for everyone. They’re active in social media for the right reasons: IBM is an organization whose business is already built upon interaction with their employees, so why not give them a voice? Enters IBM Voices.


“ is an aggregation of a couple hundred of our best social media channels and the feeds associated with some of our best subject matter experts in a variety of topics.” – Ethan McCarty, IMBs Director of Enterprise Social Strategy and Programs.1

Essentially, Voices acts as a content marketing hub for all of IBMs most trusted and knowledgeable employees around the globe. The rules and regulations for the content posted on Voices is modeled after the social computing guidelines that IBM launched in 2005. Its updates were made via community forum, so that contributors didn’t feel they were being stuffed into a box – it’s a community governed platform.

Unlike their blogging of the past, Voices doesn’t just seek out content from just anyone. Employees in consideration for the platform are given basic training on how to use sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, and educated about the risks, such as cyber security, privacy concerns and confidential information. Secondarily, they’re invited to join an internal community consisting called The Forward Thinkers Program, a collective of brand advocates from various areas of the organization.

Voices looks like a giant news aggregate, with a few unique features. Its homepage highlights a “trending” section, which monitors on a daily basis what IBMers are talking about the most. Blog sections are often testing grounds for new IBM widgets, which serves a dual purpose; testing the functionality and acting as a showroom for some new technology.

McCarty states “what’s happening inside of your company really starts to define your company.” He believes in supporting those who really get the organization and the business, as opposed to monitoring and trying to fit them into a box. The benefits are double-sided, as well. Staff interested in building their social media skills can get training and enablement to get a solid foundation into the world of social media and thought/knowledge leadership. McCarty calls this a “convergence of a company’s culture and a company’s brand.”

A second edition, or beta version, of the tool was launched last week.

Lessons for others
Depending on your business model, opening social media up to employees might make a lot of sense!

Web references


Submitted by: Amanda Houseman – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.
To contact the author of this blog post, please email

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.