Social Media Breakfast returns this month for its 25th instalment in Ottawa with IBM‘s Social Business Strategist Delaney Turner who will be talking about building the Social business at IBM. Now that intrigues me. “IBM” and “Social” in the same sentence definitely raises some eyebrows. Delaney is the first to admit that IBM and Social haven’t always gone hand in hand, but he claims that “Big Blue” has in fact become incredibly social. This month’s event drew a great crowd of easily over 100 people, with a lot of new faces in the crowd. After catching up with some colleagues, and meeting a few new people we eagerly head into the theatre for Turner’s presentation: Can Elephants Tweet?

Delaney Turner, originally from the radio world, now works with IBM as their Social Business Strategist. He commences his presentation with an up-beat video celebrating IBM’s centennial. Delaney talks about how IBM is evolving into a Social business while keeping their core competencies of intelligence and the emphasis on thinking. He claims that they are much more dynamic and entrepreneurial than most people believe. He even references some mock acronym meanings that people have associated with IBM, such as “I Block Momentum”. Turner ensures us that this is definitely not the case. “Our world is becoming smarter – it is now instrumented, interconnected and intelligent” says Turner.

IBM began their internal social movement back in 2003 with a board called ValueJam which they crowd sourced behind the firewall. From there, they continued to grow socially. They understand that Social Media is like any other new technology. He gives the example of the phone. Don’t restrict it. Allow people to learn, discover and use it efficiently. If you treat people like adults and give them autonomy, they are more likely to use the tool responsibly.

Turner goes on to talk about the limitations of email, and how it is inefficient, and in a way, anti-social. “Email is where information goes to die” Turner says. It is a closed, limited and siloed was of storing and sharing information. Instead, IBM has integrated Social into everything they do. Every morning they have meetings with all of their brands and subject matter experts to strategize how to use Social more effectively.

Next, Turner explains the value of blogging. He says that through blogging, IBM employees have been able to create an enormous amount of buzz and awareness by increasing social interactions and ranking higher in search results for specified keywords. Given the tools and autonomy, IBM employees have been able to share their expertise and capitalize on the power of the Social space. Today, not a single campaign or event goes out the door without a huge social component.

These are some of the things that are making IBM an Social Business. There is an important distinction between Social Media and Social Business. “It’s not just having a Facebook Page for your brand.” says Turner, “A Social Business embraces networks of people to create business value. It is engaged, transparent and nimble.” In order to encourage social integration into everyday business at IBM, they implemented education resources for employees interested in engaging with Social Media. Provide them with the tools to do the job and you will see results.

Despite their efforts, IBM still has some challenges when it comes to Social. Do these efforts lead to more sales? How do we effective measure the ROI of all this? As a global company, how do we approach Social across different languages? What is our strategy for dealing with negative feedback?

This morning’s talk was very interesting and thought provoking. I left the event with a flurry of thoughts and questions in my mind.

Thanks to Delaney Turner of IBM, the organizers, The Great Canadian Theatre Company, Cara Rowlands for her incredible muffins and to all of the attendees a for making this another very successful Social Media Breakfast. Stay tuned for the next Social Media Breakfast Ottawa on November 23rd with Sean MacPhedran. I hope to see you there!

You can follow Delaney Turner on Twitter at @DTurnerBlogs and at @IBMSoftware.

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