From the April 2011 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Facing Up to Facebook

John Iwata, a senior vice president at IBM, says it's "a critical risk worth taking" and adds that for IBM, it is "critical to our future success." Stephen Prignano, a partner in the law firm of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, says, "It can be a good thing for a company or an extraordinarily bad thing." They're both talking about the same thing: social media like Facebook and Twitter. The phenomenon has young people around the world glued to their PDAs, and of late has caused the world's dictators to tremble. And increasingly, at least some companies are starting to realize that whatever they might think about this leap in Internet communication, they have to start paying attention to it.

"Social media is one of those things where at this point, you have no choice but to become involved," says Morgan O'Rourke, director of publications at the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). "It's gotten to the point where if you don't do it, it's like, 'What's the matter with you?'"

Adam Christensen, IBM's manager of social business and digital influence, says the giant computer company encouraged its employees to turn to social media as early as 2005 and has had "no regrets" about the policy.

IBM invited employees to draw up guidelines, which were then reviewed by HR, marketing, finance and communications and later reviewed by the legal department. These guidelines have become what RIMS' O'Rourke calls "the gold standard" for corporate social media policy.

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