November 19, 2014 - Comments Off on Why corporate boardrooms need to engage with social media

Why corporate boardrooms need to engage with social media

Every so often a company will receive a surprise, or a stimulus, that threatens to change the way it does business. This unexpected interruption might be easily dismissed by sceptics, but doing so poses a risk that would remain hidden until it’s too late. This is the challenge of social media.

It’s used by our children and grandchildren for mindless exchanges of ‘noise’ that can be both fun and hurtful. These Generation Z users are the customers and consumers of today as well as the future. They’ve grown up immersed in this technology, spending more time perfecting and managing their digital personas than their physical image, relationships and wellbeing.

We ignore this digital marketplace at our peril. This is where they choose to live, while conventional channels appear, at best, old hat (or, at worst, irrelevant).

You can see the trend in today’s adult population. Social media already has a major impact on how we perceive a brand, its strategic programmes and tactical campaigns – even its share price. This influence is gaining momentum. It’s not to be taken lightly.

Identifying the benefits of social media

There are those who remain fearful of social media. But then there were those who were fearful of Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility, which originally disturbed the status quo of managing shareholder value and expectations. However, the more enlightened board members identified the benefits to be gained from these initiatives, which moved debates away from balance sheets (and director bonuses) and became the best way to achieve sustainable shareholder value.

Embracing social media may seem risky, but the greater risk is to ignore it and become left behind in the slow lane, free wheeling at a cottage industry level – where it can come back to bite you and damage reputations and initiatives – while you’re competitors steal a march.

The impact of social media on marketing campaigns

Social media is already having a profound impact on brand sentiment and campaign management in areas like energy and utilities and financial institutions. The political clout that has been generated and converted into CXO pressure is both significant and rapid.

Bloom’s social intelligence tool, Whisper, shows the positive impact of social media campaigns and highlights the missed opportunities that come from poor engagement – and it also offers proactive guidance, allowing you to take campaigns forward.

Digital natives simply expect that service providers will be on the scene, so they’ll just reach out within social media platforms rather than seek them out online or via bespoke apps.

So then, the question has already moved from ‘Should I/we?’ to ‘How should I/we?’

Don’t just leave it to the young ones

But there is a note of caution. It’s not simply a case of delegating social media management to junior members of the team and believing ‘that’s it, done’. Social media represents a digital space that crosses a number of platforms 24/7. It’s omnipresent. Its impact has the potential to transform business, so it should be embraced from the top.

Middle managers might not buy in, preferring instead to tie their progression and bonuses to the things they know best. Yet their thinking may be short term, and their future vision obsolete. Exploiting social change needs vision and grasping opportunity requires leadership.

There are many implications associated with proper engagement and maximising its impact and return. Social media has its risks, but the best way to manage them is to seek expert advice from expert professionals who not only understand how to maximise business benefit but also manage the pressures within the corporate environment.

Give Bloom a call – you’ll be amazed at how quickly social insights will benefit your business.