Sun Microsystems Embracing Social Media

Sheira Ariel and Carrie Motamedi from Sun Microsystems presented Embracing Social Media: Why, When & How?

Sheira asked whether social media are “just for fun” or also for business.

I actually think social media can make business more fun. And if your goal is more engaged employees, wouldn’t having more fun lead to more productivity?

She gave the example of IBM using instant messaging to put together a proposal for a client really quickly. Likewise, I’ve suggested using Twitter to quickly activate a crisis-response team.

On any given day, half of Sun’s 35,000 employees are working remotely. This makes a stronger case for using the collaborative power of social media.

A year ago they were using traditional communication vehicles: Town Hall meetings, E-mail, Static Web content, Newsletters, Conference Calls. Now they’re adding Global Town Halls, blogs, IM, Facebook, Wikis, Video/Podcasts, WebEx, SecondLife.

The Sun culture supports social media. Then-COO Jonathan Schwartz launched his external blog in 2004. As CEO, he challenged the employee communications group in 2007 to focus on “building communities” instead of just “doing communications.” They renamed their group to include the “communities” element: Global Employee Communications and Communities (GECCO)

Schwartz’s mantra is “Everything always in beta.” This enables them to experiment.

Sheira’s Guiding Principles & Tips:

  • Focus – pick a couple of manageable projects to get some quick wins
  • Start Small
  • Know Your End Goal
  • It’s a Journey

Five Common Social Media Goals

  1. Connect with friends and co-workers quickly
  2. Collaborate
  3. Build communities
  4. Get what you want (not what someone else wants you to have)
  5. Share

Matching Tools to Goals

  1. Wikis for collaboration/knowledge sharing
  2. Blogs to build reputation/share information
  3. Text messaging/IM for quick connections
  4. Forums and message boards to get employee feedback, solve mutual problems
  5. Facebook, MySpace, Ning to build relationships, share

Sun has about 5,000 people on Facebook. Socializing that happens in Facebook builds relationships that help create collaboration. It’s pleasure that leads to better business.

Sun has a PR group focused on social media. They also have experimented with events as ways to “slip in” new technologies on a pilot basis.

I created an event on Facebook within Social Media University, Global. I hope everyone who is attending the conference will indicate their attendance at this event by:

  1. Joining Facebook if you’re not there already.
  2. Enrolling in SMUG
  3. Indicating your attendance at the event.
  4. Continuing the conversation and networking, either around the event or by discussing here.