Think Social Media Is for Kids? Think Again
By Amanda Gerut
Directors need to step up their game when it comes to understanding social media, experts say. A board that fails to grasp the technologies that its companyâ€™s employees and customers use every day could underestimate the risks those technologies sometimes pose. And ignorance can come with an opportunity cost, too, since directors may be unable to evaluate strategies for harnessing social networks.
Many observers say social media skills gaps are common among corporate directors. To fill them, boards should recruit new members who are adept at those skills, and should seek help from younger executives at their companies. Boards can also hire a consulting firm to help bring directors up to speed.
Finally, boards should be using social media to monitor how they and their companies are being perceived. Directors who donâ€™t stay abreast of the topics on Twitter may not be aware that theyâ€™re in the news, and they lose the opportunity to participate in the public dialogue around the corporate message.
Lucy Marcus, a venture capital consultant and director on the boards of Mobius Life Sciences and BioCity Nottingham, both in the U.K., says directors need to think about how social media is changing their jobs as directors, as well as how it will change their businesses.
â€œBoardrooms used to be a black box where no one questioned what went on,â€ says Marcus. â€œFrom News Corp. to [Hewlett-Packard] to Yahoo, people are questioning the boards themselves directly and thatâ€™s also a factor of the transparency that comes with social media.
â€œPeople are talking about your company and theyâ€™re talking about you,â€ says Marcus. â€œDonâ€™t you want to know what theyâ€™re saying?â€
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