Social Media Guidelines: How IBM Does It


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As you begin using social media for your innovation efforts, it’s important to have in place clear guidelines such as the ones below developed by IBM (called social computing guidelines). This is important in order to guide your employees through the often treacherous waters of what they can and cannot do as they engage with social media.

Such guidelines should be reviewed periodically to keep apace with the fast development of new social media tools that may give rise to a need for new policies.

In addition to the information below, you can find a more in-depth discussion on this topic by IBM on this blog post: IBM Social Computing Guidelines

IBM Social Computing Guidelines

  • Know and follow IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines.
  • IBMers are personally responsible for the content they publish on-line, whether in a blog, social computing site or any other form of user-generated media. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time—protect your privacy and take care to understand a site’s terms of service.
  • Identify yourself—name and, when relevant, role at IBM—when you discuss IBM or IBM-related matters, such as IBM products or services. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.
  • If you publish content online relevant to IBM in your personal capacity use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”
  • Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  • Don’t provide IBM’s or another’s confidential or other proprietary information and never discuss IBM business performance or other sensitive matters publicly.
  • Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval. When you do make a reference, link back to the source. Don’t publish anything that might allow inferences to be drawn which could embarrass or damage a client.
  • Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in IBM’s workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion.
  • Be aware of your association with IBM in online social networks. If you identify yourself as an IBMer, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and clients.
  • Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes.
  • Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. IBM’s brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on IBM’s brand.
  • Don’t use use IBM logos or trademarks unless approved to do so.

Let me know if you can share similar guidelines from other companies. Many people are looking for inspiration on this topic.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


  1. Stefan: thanks for posting this. Few companies are as rigorous as IBM in establishing and documenting social media guidelines. As trusting as managers might wish to be, there are huge risks to a company’s reputation and revenue if managers are content to bypass guidelines in favor of depending strictly employee’s personal judgment.

    Even with these guidelines in place, there are huge vulnerabilities, as I learned from an attorney I worked with who is knowledgeable in these matters. The issue is that it has become quite murky to identify exactly when an employee is on the job. Therefore, telling an employee that he or she is personally responsible for what he publishes online doesn’t free the company from legal liability.

    There are some additional common sense guidelines that I wrote about in a blog this year on this topic. It might be of interest to your readers: Human Talent or Party Animal? When an Employee's Social Media Content Becomes a Legal Liability


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