Intel Inside (Social Media that is)

So this week’s lecture was from an industry expert in IT Corporate Law named Malcom Burrows. It’s a shame really because I was only able to catch the 2nd half of the lecture (the first half clashing with my Business Process Modelling lecture). Still, I managed to catch up quickly with the slides and readings and now here I am buzzing about with thoughts that I need to be more careful in my job as far as social media goes. I’m a civil servant as well as an IT professional, so it’s something to always be weary of.

Intel employees are no exception it seems. A social media strategist by the name of Ekaterina Walter was recently interviewed by socialmediaexaminer.com’s Michael Stelzner and had some pretty interesting insight into what Intel does in terms of its social media strategy. It seems like they’re really enthusiastic about it. Their employees really reach out to the community through channels such as their facebook page, and try to connect, entering into dialogue with people asking them questions, and making them feel heard.

So it also sets Intel up as a nice case to study as far as social media risks are concerned. As one would imagine they have plenty to worry about with their professional image, industry secrets and all the things kept in between that would cause a headache for a lot of people if things went awry.

Walter played a large role in developing Intel’s Social Media Guidelines. And it seems to address a lot of the concerns organisations face in terms of Social Media Sites.

The policy addresses Intel employee engagement with the community, recommended positions and guidelines for which Intel’s employees and social media practitioners must abide by when making comment on organisational relationships and endorsements and finally guidelines relating to moderation.

I’ll address some of the bigger issues of social media and how they might affect Intel:

Confidentiality, privacy, whoops, did I just let slip that product release date? Intel strives for transparency in their policy, but they also want employees to be judicious – Don’t violate our ‘privacy, confidentiality and legal guidelines for external commercial speech’. Intel’s efforts could easily be undone by an employee’s extended network putting two and two together through facebook comments and result in a loss of confidentiality and a breach of privacy.

Being judicious in what to say and not to say also relates to issues of ‘Misleading and deceptive conduct’, wherein an employee might make a claim about a product in the social media realm, only for that claim to be false, resulting in Intel coming under scrutiny both legally and in their reputation. This is also true of negligent statements, even defamation – It is a difficult situation where Intel employees are encouraged to reach out with social media, but must also be so careful.

Discrimination is also an interesting issue to consider with their policy, specifically their policy on moderation and approving comments. They work to ensure that negative comments towards them are let through just as positive comments are, as long as they are not “ugly, offensive, denigrating and completely out of context”. Of course, the more common definition of discrimination also applies to Intel – they run the risk of damage to their reputation and legal fallout if they are made the center of a discrimination case because Intel employees make a comment on a social media platform that could be considered discriminatory.

I feel that these risks are going to exist one way or another in most enterprises. However, a company such as Intel, one that is a leader in the IT industry is well equipped with people who are of an IT background already, and understand the implications of social media even with formal training.

However, it is with this knowledge that Intel can embrace the benefits that Social Media platforms can offer. It is an openness that they push repeatedly in their policy as they ask for ‘Transparency’ in their employees. They ask their employees to make very clear who they are, who they represent and what vested interests they may have when they make comment so that it is difficult for readers to misconstrue what is being said.

These risks are definitely important to consider, but a quote Ekaterina recalled from a Toyota national marketing manager sums it up best I think:

The price of inactivity is greater than the risks of anything we’d be doing in social media,”

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2 Responses to Intel Inside (Social Media that is)

  1. howedan says:

    Really enjoyed the read… and the title!
    Its interesting to see the different array of social media these large companies are taking, especially one so heavily involved in the IT world. I guess eventually everyone will fall in line a take the same approach after the business world start utilizing this technologies benefits. The interpretation of some of these ‘open’ laws will also eventually be cleared up through trial and error i guess.

  2. Amiel says:

    Excellent post Anthony. I personally think that these issues are inevitable for any organizations that utilizes social media. I think the problem lies in measuring the effects of what social media can offer to an organization. What makes a perfect social media guideline for any organization? If your too strict, that defeats the whole purpose of it all. and if your not strict, you’ll suffer the consequences later.

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