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Over-the-Fence Conversations

IBM Puts Down the Megaphone to Engage Individuals

IBM Puts Down the Megaphone to Engage Individuals

Q. IBM used social media to communicate about Watson. What was the strategy there?
A. When we introduced it, we recognized Watson was going to be one of those things that would be interesting to large groups of people. We don’t expect to sell Watson to every business on the planet. The number of businesses that will actually buy something like Watson is far smaller than the number of people who are interested because it was something new and incredibly innovative. It was like when we played chess with Kasparov years ago or Blue Gene* where we apply supercomputing to life sciences. It’s interesting to a large audience. We knew the way to reach that audience in today’s world was going to be through traditional channels of press and other outreach, but also social channels were really going to be the way that the most people could find out about Watson.

We still had advertising, we still used television, we still used print, we still had magazines and other forms of press, but at the same time, we integrated social outreach with all of those things. The social outreach enabled sharing via online networks and really amplified the amount of dialogue.

We also used the power of social networks inside IBM to help share with every employee what was going to happen next with Watson, and we helped employees share externally with snippets of content that they could read and then create their own tweets or Facebook posts or blogs.

Q. Does this social strategy carry over to IBM’s clients? Should they be more social? How could it benefit them, and how can they start?
A. I think by its very definition, if IBM is successful at being a social business, it must involve engagement with and by our clients. Our clients should definitely engage socially—on things both related and unrelated to IBM. They can start simple. If they’ve got questions, they can use social channels to try to find answers. If they’ve got feedback they want to offer on something, conversations are happening in social channels, and I think it’s important for them to know that we’re paying attention to those conversations. We’ll collect feedback in an indirect kind of way about our products and services and so forth.

I think our clients can also help one another in ways they might not have recognized in the past. If you look at some of the conversations that take place online, you can find IBM’s clients discovering answers to problems or finding the best way to do something or a workaround to a particularly sticky situation. A lot of those solutions are shared online because they’re developed online. I think there’s a lot of benefit they can get from one another as well. That’s one of the key benefits of the IBM Champions program.

Certainly within Power Systems, we’ve tried to make sure that we’re really finding some of the best and brightest technical experts that IBM has and getting them to engage online in areas where we know there’s a lot of conversation. I absolutely think our clients should take advantage of those kinds of things.

Tami Deedrick is the former managing editor of IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems edition.



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