What Your Board Members Need to Know About Social Media

by Alexandrea Roman on July 12, 2013 and last updated on September 26, 2016

Social media is a double-edged sword for the enterprise. On one hand, it gives organizations direct access to their target market. They can build a good relationship with their existing clients and attract future ones.

But this direct link is also the same reason why social media can be dangerous when not handled well. Confidential information, once leaked, can travel across the Internet within minutes. Also, customer complaints and all other expressions of dissatisfaction have the potential to garner a lot of negative attention.

Gone are the days when social media had no place in the business world. Now, social media plays a big role in forming the image and brand of organizations, and it’s time for boards to take notice.

Why should your board pay attention to social media and its influence? These reasons serve as compelling answers:

1. Real-time marketing

Social media is all about living in the ‘now.’ Organizations that can capitalize on what’s currently trendy can possibly capture a whole new audience. Let’s take Oreo for example. An unexpected blackout in this year’s Super Bowl turned into a marketing opportunity for Oreo when its social media team tweeted the message “Power out? No problem?” with the link to a photo captioned with “You can still dunk in the dark.” To date, the tweet received 15,592 retweets and 6,217 favorites. The media also took notice. Mashable, Business Insider, TIME, and various other news outlets couldn’t stop talking about this genius stroke of social media marketing. Oreo received lots of publicity that helped solidify its presence on the Internet. If a cookie brand could do it, your organization can find ways, too.

2. Trend prediction

What do consumers and clients want? The answer to this question is easier to find nowadays, thanks to social media. When your organization has a strong online presence, your social media team can ask followers and fans for feedback and suggestions. Marketing surveys that predict future trends still help, but so does hearing straight from the people who use your product or services. Aside from asking directly, you can also learn what your target market wants through observation. In this time when people are willing to share their opinions with the public, you’ll find that it’s not too hard to look for what you need. For example, you can go to a competitor’s social media page and read about common complaints. Your organization can gain an edge by addressing what your competitor lacks and creating a superior product or service.

3. Viral complaints

Your organization does not need to have a social media presence to become the target of unfavorable publicity. Customers and clients who have a problem with your products or services are free to go online and launch a tirade. Most often than not, these complaints are just par for the course. But sometimes, things can get out of hand. A complaint can go viral, and that’s not good for your organization’s image. Comcast is a perfect example. A video of a Comcast technician sleeping on a customer’s couch went viral fast. In the footage, the technician needed to call Comcast, but he had been put on hold for so long that he fell asleep. It was a double ding for the company. One, its technician was caught sleeping on the job and two, its service over the phone was shown in a bad light. To make up for the hassle, and also possibly to perform damage control, a Comcast team spent five hours to get everything up and running again for the customer who made the video. You have to ask yourself this: How does your organization respond to complaints on social media?

4. Information leakage

Personal secrets are not the only things that can leak out on social media. Confidential corporate information can also find its way on the Internet, and when it does, the results can be anything from embarrassing to damaging. Let’s look at HMV and how its Twitter account got hijacked by angry employees who were about to get laid off. Tweets like “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired!” were sent out to the news feed of 70,000 followers. The offending messages are no longer on the timeline of HMV’s Twitter account, but the Internet never forgets. Several articles have been written about this incident, and most of them quoted or posted screenshots of the rogue tweets. HMV didn’t have a plan for social media management (especially in the event of a turnover), but your organization still has time to make one to avoid ending up in the same situation.

Social media is a tool. In spite of the risks, it can be beneficial for your organization, especially when it fosters collaboration. It’s the principle that drives Convene, an electronic board meeting solution that allows board members to interact with one another and work together on meeting documents on the portal. Even when the board meeting process is wholly electronic, the social aspect is not only still there, but also enhanced.

It’s the people who make an organization the way it is, so social media is not something that should be completely avoided. Rather, it should be managed to guarantee success.

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About Alexandrea Roman

Alexandrea is a social media specialist and blogger for Convene.

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