I noticed HCL’s employee tweetup recently, thanks to an RT by Gautam Ghosh.

The tweetup is planned for December 16th and is meant for all HCL employees in Noida. I gather that it may be planned in other Indian cities as well.

There’s – understandably – a hashtag too…#hcltweetup.

It looks like an effort that was started by Bokul Bhowmick, deputy manager, digital marketing at HCL Technologies, at least going by her LinkedIn profile. And I’m not adding this part to intrude in her privacy – just to point to the difference that usually, such events are conducted by HR folks and that this one seems different.

A helpful blog post by another HCL employee, Anshul Sushil (global marketing manager, Noida) lists 5 things that make this ‘1st ever #HCLtweetup special’,

1. Done for the first time by any Indian IT Company (any company?) for its employees
2. First time ever, a CEO (especially Indian) would have endorsed it on Twitter and accepted to come 🙂
3. Happening at beautiful KNMA , befitting the entire setting a lot more 🙂
4. When employees will not talk business but get to meet each other as just “people”
5. Where employees will get to ask questions to the top leader (s) of a company via completely casual setting!. Imagine this 10 years back? – hahaha!

Most importantly, after cumulative pestering (according to Anshul) of all employees, HCL’s CEO, Vineet Nayar tweets a terse approval – ‘Yes will be there’.

Let us just get a bit deeper into what is supposedly happening here.

The twtvite for the tweetup has a few queries in the comments section. One of them goes,

you mean all the tweeters will personally meet up there? and whats the agenda? party?

Some responses include,

All HCL Noida Tweeters will meet informally to know each other better, interact & have a good time

This is an HCL Employee Tweetup scheduled on 16th Dec for all HCL employees who use Twitter. If you’re one of them, just hit “Yes” to attend.

So, I assume the agenda is to just meet, get to know each other and have fun. Perfectly logical, given the sheer number of employees large Indian IT companies have, but why this twitter entry restriction?

I know it is a tweetup and it is primarily meant for people on Twitter, but what about HCL employees who are not on Twitter or who are otherwise busy to be on Twitter? How does that stand in front of the most used jargon among IT companies – inclusivity? Inclusivity, for the uninitiated, simply means, ‘policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc’. Do we add a twitter profile to this too, on the back of this tweetup?

What is in this activity that demands Twitter as a catalyst? What is in it that cannot be achieved by, say HCL’s intranet or the internal messaging system?

I’m just wondering aloud here – does the use of internal communication tools make it sound more formal than a tweetup and consequently inhibit participation?

Anshul’s 5th point also adds that people present can ask questions to Vineet in a casual setting. Does that, in some way, imply that conventionally, employees in HCL Technologies do not get an opportunity to ‘ask questions in a casual setting’?

Consequently, like most organizations, if HCL also conducts open house sessions (usually managed by HR), does that not amount to a ‘casual setting’ that encourages open questions?

Why does the same thing, merely managed via a social tool like Twitter, become more casual in comparison? Does it, at all?

To me, personally, using Twitter is not any different from using HCL’s internal mail to announce a meeting between employees, in a particular city. The key difference, of course, is that the world gets to know about it too, though obviously, non-HCL employees cannot participate in it, as per the rules. Therefore, is this tweetup – or the exercise of conducting a tweetup – a PR exercise alone? Not that there’s anything wrong with it – it could sure create a better perception about HCL in the minds of people looking to join IT companies…though, upon deeper introspection there’s nothing new happening here – employees are meeting each other and their CEO.

So, for an event meant only for HCL employees, the use of a broader, publicly visible social tool like Twitter seems contrived. That said, if I seem to be missing something here, I’m all for listening and learning.