Board’s Role in Corporate Social Media

Bennet Group’s continuing education on strategic communications, by Christine Matsuda Smith

Social media is dynamic, entertaining and captivating; an ever-changing and increasingly important way to communicate with your company’s key audiences.  More than that, these platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can provide profound insights into the wider perception of your organization in ways that were not possible before the advent of this new medium.  Social media is a valuable listening tool—not just a messaging tool—and it is critical that the leadership of any organization understand its utility in this increasingly digital world.

Not all companies can or even should be active with social media accounts.  However, not participating in the online conversation won’t preclude your company from being discussed without you. Powerful monitoring tools are available to help keep track of local, national and international comments mentioning your organization and its key issue areas.  Listening carefully to the conversation on social media can serve as an incredibly valuable source of new ideas and trends – or equally critical – as an early warning of reputational threats.

Social media provides a particularly intimate way of connecting with your key audiences in a way that is unique to the medium.  Rather than relying on a one-way flow of content, the real power of social media is the ability to create an immediate connection with an individual user. Responding to comments in real time with an authentic, personal reply can make the difference between a disgruntled former customer and a card-carrying brand loyalist.  It is the responsibility of the board of directors and executive leadership to establish a clear, comprehensive social media policy that shapes these online interactions and includes standards for response times, disclosure practices, brand usage and other key considerations in the online era.

Whether your online presence is well-established, or you’re just dipping your toes in the social media waters, your governing board and executive leadership should be asking these key questions:

– Are we listening to what is being said about the company on social media?

– Is there a social media policy in place for our communications team, general employees and board members?

– Are we dedicating the resources and encouraging the right culture to support best uses of social media?

As big data becomes increasingly powerful in the marketplace with integrated marketing and advertising and incredible personalization in the online sphere, social media will only rise in influence, popularity and power.  The landscape of popular platforms will continue to shift constantly, so rely on your digital marketing teams and strategic communications partners to stay up to date with the latest best practices.  Social media is here to stay, and can be a valuable weapon in your integrated communications arsenal.

Bennet Group is proud to offer a new social media training program specifically designed to address the needs of governing boards and executives.  Please contact Christine Matsuda Smith and Andrea Lum to learn more.