Intel Asks Employees to “Go Forth And Get Online”

Do you remember when Jay Leno took over for Johnny Carson on NBC’s The Tonight Show? Of course in the scheme of things this wasn’t the most pivotal time in the history of the world. But it did mark an important turning point in the show’s existence. With new furniture and background, combined with fresh faces and musicians, this transition obviously marked a new era for the successful talk show.

Intel has recently undergone its own transition of sorts, although this one isn’t so public. All that changed yesterday when Intel published its Social Media Guidelines for all the world to see. This act in itself doesn’t necessarily mirror the sweeping changes seen during the Carson-Leno hand-off, but it is a harbinger of a new era of openness at Intel, and it’s like a breath of fresh air.

For several years a handful of cutting-edge, passionate social adventurers at Intel have blazed the trail by publishing blogs, participating in forums, posting photos, and Twittering away on behalf of Intel in the myriad social sites that pepper the web. However it’s taken the company a little longer to settle on company policies, best practices, and training to help minimize the risk that sometimes accompanies a foray into unchartered territory.

By publishing the Social Media Guidelines in conjunction with a new Digital IQ social media training, Intel is both encouraging and empowering employees to participate in online social media activities on behalf of the company. And although this step may not seem that big on the outside, it is pretty huge for a company previously known for its requisite secrecy and well-trained spokespeople.

Intel recoginzes the important role online conversations continue to play in building solid relationships with our customers. And how better to participate in those conversations than to empower the technology experts that can add value to the dialogue? Intel is hoping both the guidelines and the training will help our technical experts all across the company feel comfortable and confident to participate in social media activities when it makes sense for them.  

Intel decided to publish these guidelines externally in an attempt to be as transparent as possible with our customers. I can tell you from personal experience, it is not a simple task to get nearly an entire company to agree to a set of guidelines which all agree to adhere. But I have seen nothing but the most enthusiastic support from all corners of the company for these efforts. And that’s saying quite a lot.

So tell us what you think. Did we get it right? Is there room for improvement? We welcome your feedback. 

4 Responses to Intel Asks Employees to “Go Forth And Get Online”

  1. Carri Bugbee says:

    Kelly, I think Intel’s guidelines are thoughtful and sensible. I’m sure they will be a model for many other companies grappling with social media participation and transparency.
    The big question (that I don’t think was addressed substantively) is how do you determine when an employee is interacting on behalf of Intel or simply engaging in social media for his/her own purposes? This seems to be the hundred thousand dollar question.
    For example, I’ve been following you and Josh Bancroft on Twitter for a very long time, but I never think of you guys as formal representatives of Intel. Is twitter a milieu in which you’re not representatives of Intel, whereas writing a post for a blog hosted by Intel means you are? I don’t think most followers draw those distinctions. We click through from one place to another with lightening speed and don’t make a mental switch to “Oh, this is Kelly wearing her corporate hat now.”
    I wonder how Intel employees make that distinction and what will happen when someone says/does something in social media that’s truly egregious. In a company that large, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. Is it assumed that at a certain pay grade, you are always “on the clock” for Intel, so watch what you say wherever you are? Just curious.
    Carri Bugbee
    http://twitter.com/carriBugbee

  2. Jmartens says:

    I read the new Intel Social Media guidelines yesterday after Josh tweeted about them. I immediately re-tweeted and proclaimed that all internet users should follow those guidelines, not just Intel folk.
    Great work. Now to get the other 800 million web users to follow along ;)

  3. Wendy says:

    I like the fact that Intel is being so upfront about the policies and allowing employees the freedom to blog while using their discretion with the appropriate training. Like Carri, I would be interested to see how Intel determines when an employee is participating on behalf of the company and when they are off the clock, or because of their higher profile, if they must exercise caution at all times. I think there is a real concern that what is put out there by employees can easily be perceived as the company’s position even with a disclaimer.

  4. Kelly Feller says:

    @Carri & @ Wendy,
    This is a great question and one Intel has grappled with. The primary goals for our guidelines and training are to help our technology experts feel comfortable participating in social media, like forums or blogs, on behalf of Intel. In these cases, it is fairly obvious they represent Intel in those instances.
    However, with others–like Josh and myself–who have more public personas, the line is a bit more grey. My personal motto is to be cognizant that I’m “always on” to a degree. I try to remain human, expressing my often strong opinions, yet I also try to remain professional. I think it’s a good rule of thumb in general.