The Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University issued the results of their survey of executives and board members in North American companies regarding their views of social media earlier this year.
After discussing the potential benefits of social media (ability to: engage closely with and collaborate among stakeholder; gather information inexpensively and quickly on market, competitors, products and stakeholders; and disseminate information quickly) and risks (loss of control over company and product branding, reputation, proprietary information; potential for quick spread of misinformation to market and stakeholders), the report proceeds to show the feedback from executives and directors on their knowledge and use of social media. The vast majority were familiar with the names of the largest social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.). 13% did not have a social media account. The most common site that the respondents had accounts on was LinkedIn (80.4%). 41.3% said that they used LinkedIn most frequently and 17.9% said they used Facebook most frequently. The results also said that the respondents used social media for personal purposes and business purposes. I thought that was rather predictable and no surprise.
What I found interesting, however, is that 76.4% said that their company used social media to support or promote its business, but 65.6% said that their company does not use information gathered from social media as part of key performance measures to track the success of business activities. Also, 50% said that they do not use social media to monitor potential risks to business activities, and 17.65 did not know if social media was used in the rick monitoring process.
Furthermore, at the Board level, 90.7% said that the Board has no oversight over social media monitoring efforts, and 85.8% said that the Board does NOT receive any reports containing summary information and metrics from social media. Even more surprising for me is that 55.5% of senior management does NOT receive any reports containing summary information and metrics from social media. Those results did surprise me. In this digital age and rampant social media use, I would have thought that all senior managers not only received reports, but had input as well to the social media strategy.
Boards should be more aware of not only what their company is sending out through social media, but also the information and metrics that can be gathered with social media. Not paying attention to something like the company’s social media strategy, its results and the strategies and results of the company’s competitors (and potential competitors) can cause the company to loose control, among other things, of their brand, market sentiment and the direction of their industry.