Company Culture at HP creates an Integrated Social Media Program

Published by Karen Snyder on

Part one of an “interview” with HP’s Tac Anderson

Tac Anderson is a the Web 2.0 Strategic lead for HP’s Imaging and Printing group. HP is one of the brands that I benchmarked for blogging best practices in 2005, so I was curious to find out what they are doing today with social media. Tac has been a student of social media since back in the 90s when we used to call this stuff “Community.” He truly loves his work, saying:

If I wasn’t getting paid to do this, I’d be getting in trouble for doing it too much at work.
– Tac Anderson

Does HP have the Three “Success Indicators” For Social Media?
As I have previously blogged, there are three factors that are present in Enterprise Companies that are successful in the use of social media:
1. A top-down driven approach
2. A robust internal community
3. A company culture that encourages openness and trust.

At HP the hierarchy is flat, with small, empowered work teams and managers who control their own budget. There are 3 business units, Tac works in Imaging and Printing (IPG). Tac’s BU is advanced in their use use of social media, mostly because their executive Vice President was a key driver of Web 2.0 technologies inside HP. So, just like we saw at Cisco, Intel and SAP, there was a top-down driven approach at HP

Tac described a strong internal community at HP, with hundreds of blogs, and an Internal Wiki called “Pligg” (like “Digg.) There are many more social media tools used internally than externally.

The motivated, empowered workforce at HP creates a culture that is conducive to embracing social media. The business units are independent of each other; there is no Corporate Social Media Team. There is a lot of social-media-related activity at HP, but it’s more about integrating Social Media into existing Corporate Communications or product launches.

A Comparison to Dell’s Unified Corporate Approach
It’s critical to understand this company culture if you want to understand HP’s approach to Social Media. It’s different than — for example — Dell, which has a unified approach to marketing and social media. (All the Tweeters use “@Dell” as part of their name.) But let’s remember that at Dell, someone wrote a blank check to get the company out of “Dell Hell.” And Comcast, now the darling of every Social Media presentation, had to do something to erase the memory of the technician sleeping on the couch, didn’t they? Does it really take a major Brand Disaster to get Enterprise companies on the Social Media bandwagon?

How Did Social Media at HP Evolve?
HP’s social media program was originally driven out of marketing, and began with a handful of corporate blogs. HP Communities
Seems to be the “official” HP Community, complete with employee-contributed video that you can vote on, podcasts, a link to the idea lab and to the “Wet Paint” wiki, which is a community for members to show off their creativity. And 50 “official” corporate blogs.

Then there are 60 HP “Employee Business Blogs” that are hosted on HP Platform, written by various business groups. A few executives even have their personal blogs. The number of blogs is growing weekly, recently they launched their first foreign language blog.

But the real jaw dropper is that there are links off to the employee’s PERSONAL blogs. I love this! My legal team would keel over if we tried to do this. But HP’s Legal team was apparently satisfied with the following disclaimer.

How Does HP Mitigate the Risks of Blogging?
1. The HP Blogging Code of Conduct is posted front and center on the Community site.
2. HP has an organization called the “Core Community Council” that reviews blog applications and approves them. But they don’t follow up or monitor the bloggers in any way.
3. Legal advises bloggers on how to protect themselves from risk, but unless it’s an obvious violation, they don’t interfere.

So, in other words, employees are trusted to not act like idiots. As Tac puts it:

“We hire the right people and we let them do their job”
— Tac Anderson

Nicely done, HP. Your unique company culture seems to work pretty well.


brazilian girls · August 19, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Nice interview. Glad HP is on the bandwagon!

By the by – social media wasn’t top-down driven at Intel. It was employees in the trenches back in 2003 incorporating blogs/wikis etc. in an enterprise manner. Corporate immediately saw the value and then helped drive it across the board. Now it’s top-down. Just saying. They hire great people who keep their finger on the pulse of new tech.

Karen Snyder · August 19, 2008 at 11:00 pm

Hi brazilian girls…thank you for the insight. I will update my “theory” to say “Social Media has support at the Top.” I should have remembered from my conversation with Jeff Moriarty that social media was more of a grass-roots initiative at Intel. But that shows that there is hope for the rest of us : )

Tac · August 20, 2008 at 7:39 am

Thanks for doing this. I had a great time talking with you. Great write up too.

Just to clarify, we have an internal wiki called HPedia and an install of pligg (an open source version of Digg) which we use to share ideas and vote up the good ones.

sandeep · October 31, 2008 at 4:53 am

Nice blog. And I like the focus on case studies and ROI.

Here are 2 Social Media Case Studies in FLASH

1- Commoncraft


I thought that might interest you.

sandeep · November 1, 2008 at 3:03 am

Thanks very much Karen for your feedback on the Flash animation.


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