EMC Promotes Employee Engagement on Social Media as Good for Business

It pays to read the comments under articles in your favorite publications. The Wall Street Journal published an article recently entitled Your Employee is an Online Celebrity: Now What Do You Do? and I was dazzled by one of the responses.

The main point of the article is that employees are building their own brands on social media while also representing their company’s brand. The Journal lays out the pluses and minuses for companies. As those of you who follow my posts know, I’m a firm believer in engaging your employees as brand advocates.

I was about to leave a comment under the article when I noticed quite a long comment from Chuck Hollis, who writes that he is a “co-branded employee at a global technology company that encourages and supports social proficiency as a win/win for everyone.” That company is EMC Corporation, a $20 billion global cloud computing organization. In the humorous and informative video below, EMC describes why it’s important for companies to partner with its employees on social media.

In his Wall Street Journal comment, Mr. Hollis extolled the virtues of enabling employees to be active on social media:

“To give you a sense of scale, we have several hundred co-branded employees who blog, and many thousands of unofficial brand managers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Collectively, it’s a very valuable capability…The issues raised around brand alignment and content ownership haven’t been concerns in our situation. Personal and corporate brands tend to align very well for most of our employees, and most content creators are flattered and honored when the corporation decides to reuse — and thus promote — their content.”

EMC has an internal social network for employee collaboration and an external social network allowing access to 250,000 customers and employees. Customers can connect directly with employees on this interactive channel.

So there you have it — an informed response to the question posed by many organizations who are sitting on the fence or even forbidding their employees to use social media:

Should we allow our employees to post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social networks? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

How about your company? Have you partnered with your employees on social media? I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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  1. Jeannette that’s the way of the future. Employees will promote the company they work for a and be stars in their own right.

    It’s still problematic because far too many people don’t seem to understand that search engines record everything and forget nothing. Obviously that creates a lot of problems but when everybody understands that they cannot post what they don’t want the whole world to see and read, what you describe will be the most normal thing in the world.

    • Catarina — I agree that people are getting smarter about what they post. I firmly believe companies can trust their employees to say the right things.

  2. I love that video. The message that EMC delivers is awesome. I love it when a company gets it and uses what we already do, to enhance the organization and employee communication. It’s a way to help EMC to educate the employees on what it is, how to use it and what to be aware of.

    As for my company? I am a company of one, so I whole heartily support this position… he, he, he.

    • Susan — I know. I love that such a large global company not only “gets” social media but have the courage to create and share with the public an internal employee video.

  3. What a creative video, Jeannette! Thanks for sharing it.

    I agree that the comments that follow a post are often more engaging than the post itself, and are a great way to connect with more like-minded people.

    I find the community on my writer’s blog to be amazing in that respect and many readers have shared some very personal and useful info that has helped us all. On the chocolate travel blog, we have more of a “good time” traveling and eating chocolate, but even then, there can be an important social message to share.

    • Doreen — I’ve enjoyed the comments on your posts. And you get a lot of them! Maybe it’s because there are so many chocolate lovers out there and they enjoy hearing about your travels. I know that I do.

  4. Jeannette, EMC is an excellent example of a company that embraces new technologies. Thanks for sharing their video. It’s excellent. I found myself waiting until I heard the magic words “policies, procedures, rules and regulations” Without those in place (and enforced), a company could be jeopardizing their brand. Great post! We can learn a lot from big businesses.

    • Sherryl — companies do need policies as guidelines for employees on social media. But the fact is, most companies already have policies in place, way before social media. You weren’t allowed to give away company secrets then and you can’t now. The existing policies need tweaking to accommodate to the new reality of the Internet but they don’t need to start from scratch, in my view.

  5. Just in the past couple months I had to turn down a job because of issues along these lines. The job was a one day a week wine merchandiser (stocking shelves). They wanted me to sign a contract giving all rights to my media content to them. Not a fair trade in any way shape or form.

    • Jon — I’ll say. Not a fair trade at all. I once was hired to do a one-day training session for a major money center bank. They sent me a 15-page contract that essentially gave them the right to use my content any way they chose forever anywhere around the world. Companies will try to make you give up all your rights as a starting point in negotiations. Eventually, I signed a standard one-page contract that covered the one day’s work.

  6. I didn’t realize that any company or business would be against using social networking sites. They are quickly become the top way to connect with people, as well as recruit people for job positions. The internet is an important tool (obviously) and social media sites have quickly become the most used places to go for shared information.

    • Kelly — I know, it doesn’t make sense. But many companies — particularly in regulated industries — have clamped down on social media. I think in many cases this is an excuse and just easier than coming up with policies that would enable their employees to become their brand advocates on social networks.

  7. Like Susan, I am now a company of one and have found that very freeing. Ultimately, I try to conduct myself with grace, and with an eye toward the writer/reviewer/editor brand that I am building. Being a former public school employee, I am curious to see how social media policies will continue to impact teachers. I would never “friend” a student now simply because too many posts can be taken the wrong way or overly read into.

    • Jeri — You make a good point about teachers on social media. “Friending” a student could indeed be taken the wrong way. It’s sad how much things have changed. When I was a student so many years ago if a teacher gave you a pat on the shoulder it was intended in praise or maybe to console upi. Now a teacher would be afraid to touch a student at all.

  8. Nice post, Jeannette. The social media advice can apply in any situation, even for companies of one, such as myself. I like all the benefits shown in the delightful EMC video. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Dolores – I’m glad you enjoyed it. You’re quite right. As solopreneurs our personal brand couldn’t be more impotrant. It’s what defines us.

  9. This is an intriguing video. On one hand I like that that social media is welcome and encouraged. I also appreciate the guidelines given on how best to navigate social media and to be fair to all parties. On the other hand, I would want to be sure that any company (EMC in this case) is also being fair to their employees. These social network dialogues include great brainstorming and ideas and it would be too easy for executives to capitalize on that without giving due credit to ingenious minds. Loyalty begets loyalty and that is only fair… not to mention noble business tactics.

    Like others, I was recently asked to give a presentation to a large crowd. I was astonished to see a contract that said my content would be video recorded and used in any manner on any social media. That is simply counterproductive to my (or anyone’s) business model. I like loyalty in relationships and that’s what I hope to see everywhere. Employees are a great asset to corporations if they are treated well.

    • Keyuri — We don’t hear the word “loyalty” often any more in the employer-employee relationship, certainly not with so many layoffs during the recent recession. I think the idea of who gets credit for an idea is one of the issues for companies that are hesitant about allowing employees to establish their personal brands. They’re afraid employees might claim credit for intellectual capital that was developed on company time.

  10. You make the most concise, compelling case for brand advocates I’ve seen, Jeannette. Thanks for posting!

    What’s especially important is that EMC also established the communication channels and mechanisms–“internal social network…and an external social network”–to realize and sustain its advocacy of brand advocates.

    • Thanks, Susan. Actually I didn’t make the case, EMC did! I love the lighthearted approach the company takes in its video. Makes you want to work there.

    • Thanks, Cleveland,, for visiting. I think engagement can be easy for a manager when the company culture encourages it.