Social media in the boardroom – is it being ignored?
A recent FT/ICSA Boardroom Bellwether survey found that nearly half the boards of UK listed companies hadn’t discussed social media strategy in the last twelve months. Only 7% had discussed this topic four times or more. Do we take it from this that social media really isn’t very important to business? That they can ignore this when they plan their business strategy?And if they don’t think it’s important then should SMEs take it seriously? Maybe social media in the boardroom isn’t considered to be worth discussing?
Perhaps part of the problem lies in the fact that many of the people working at board level don’t really ‘do’ social media. I’ve worked with companies at this level and found that the majority of the directors don’t use social media, see it as something their children do. Some of them have LinkedIn accounts but do little with them, a few have Twitter but aren’t sure how to use it and Facebook, well that’s nothing much to do with business. The problem here is that their customers don’t see it in the same way.
Companies that work primarily in the consumer sector would find it difficult to exclude social media from their marketing. Those that work mainly with other businesses probably think they can get away without it. Apart from the fairly obvious marketing angle, businesses should consider that social media is a goldmine of information. What’s going on in your sector, problems arising, activism? All of these and more need to be listened for.
Perhaps what brings home the real disconnect between social media in the boardroom and the outside world are the number of recent failures to do it properly. There was the HMV redundancy debarcle, then there was JP Morgan who thought that a Twitter Q&A would be a great idea, and don’t forget the day that Ryanair thought that Michael O’Leary would be good for a Twitter debate. What’s worse is that there are many more examples out there. So, if you’re using social media, including it in your marketing strategy and engaging with your audience – give yourself a pat on the back, there are other bigger businesses who haven’t caught on yet.