I have noticed an increase in the number of articles that provide information and guidance for Board Members on the use of social media (I admit this may partially reflect my own growing interest). Some of the discussion has been on how to provide information about ourselves appropriately (and effectively) in the corporate social media space.
In my own case, I have been on LinkedIn for many years, on the web (as a business for a long time) and have expanded my presence through the use of “about.me”, “Twitter” and a blog on “WordPress”. I am on Facebook but have made a strategic decision to keep this as a personal area and not for my corporate contact, although I still monitor opportunities to create another Facebook space for corporate use.
Whilst I am pleased that Board Members are becoming better informed on the personal use of social media, there is also a broader perspective for the Board as a whole to consider – what is the strategy of the organisation in the use of social media?
Social media should be a well considered part of the organisations overall marketing and operations strategy, and like any marketing and information technology, it does require investment. So there are a number of questions that Board Members should be considering in the use of social media and how it fits into organisations strategy:
- How is a particular social media technology going to assist our Marketing and Operations activities?
- What resources are going to be required to support a particular social media technology (e.g. publish “Twitter” feeds, respond to “Twitter”, etc)?
- What will be the quality assurance and authorities required to publish quality information on the social media technologies?
- How will data captured from the Social Media be integrated into our existing systems (such as Customer Relationship Management systems CRM)?
- What are our obligations in relation to messages placed on our social media by members of the public (i.e. could we be sued if there is defamatory information published on our Social Media by members of the public)?
- How will we be aware of the image of our organisation in the social media outside of our control?
- How will the return on investment be considered in terms of all resources (people and tools) to effectively manage the social media space?
- What is our organisations policy for the internal use of social media for your own staff (start thinking about the fact that tools such as Facebook, Twitter will seriously augment e-mail as a key communication tool)?
There are organisations that can assist in auditing your presence in the social media space such as SR7 (http://www.sr7.com.au/services/monitoring/ – please note we have no commercial relationship with SR7 and provide as an example). You will need a mechanism to monitor your brand in the Social Space in real time.
Social media should be one of the discussions at the Board Level, but focused on how it will enhance and augment your marketing and operations strategy and not be reactive actions because your competitors are doing something. It is a way to build your brand but also provides a new range of risks to it.
So we recommend that you keep social media aligned to your organisational strategy and monitor its effectiveness and return on investment.