Community Lessons from IBM

April 25, 2013

Ryan A. Boyles serves as the social media strategist for IBM Software, Application and Infrastructure Middleware. He builds social media marketing programs, working to connect digital and face-to-face communities. “I believe the best way to take an online community into the real world is through face-to-face interaction,” he told Fast Company.

On May 8, he will speak at a BMA Carolinas event about the way that social media is changing the culture of IBM. “Enterprise Social Business: Transforming the way we communicate with the world and each other” will focus on building online community at the Fortune 20 company. He caught up with BMA Buzz for a rapid-fire preview. 

BMA Buzz: How have social media and online communities helped to change the way that IBM interacts with its constituents? 

Ryan Boyles: Breaking out of formal email and conference calls by using social platforms inside our firewall — wikis, status walls, file sharing, commenting, tags — as well as external social networks has made IBM productivity increase. This is due to tighter bonds between employees and clients or partners and [fewer] barriers to finding experts and information in the company. 

BMA Buzz: What can btob marketers, particularly those marketers at companies with fewer resources than IBM, learn from the company's transformation?

Boyles: First, look at your corporate culture. The culture has to shift from a siloed approach where people hoard and protect information from each other and their clients, [to an approach that shares] everything. Sharing is the key to breaking down walls internally and externally.  

BMA Buzz: What elements do marketers need to have in place as they begin their own transformation?

Boyles: [They need] strong executive sponsorship and a long- and short-term plan for tools adoption and process change. 

BMA Buzz: Where do social strategies have the most impact on marketing programs?

Boyles: You can expose your clients to experts and have them connect online before, during and after events. 


"Community Lessons from IBM." BMA Buzz. 4/25/13.