Social media was originally developed as a channel to network and engage in conversation with friends, family and colleagues just over a decade ago. However, over the years it has evolved into a global commercial machine with endless possibilities for organisations to engage directly with their consumers.
There are now 40 million business pages on Facebook and 4 million of those businesses pay for social media advertising. In addition, in 2015 Facebook influenced 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases (up from 36% in 2014).
Despite the significant impact that social media can offer to enterprise organisations, social media is yet to feature highly on the agenda within the boardroom. More often than not, social media will sit firmly within the marketing team with limited or no reference in board reports or meetings. Here's 6 barriers to the boardroom and tips on how to close the management gap.
The enemy within
The spread and widely adopted use of social media is fundamentally affecting the way that organisations operate and do business as well as the way they govern communication. That is the theory, however research published by Source for Consulting revealed that the reality may be very different with employees and management proving to be a core barrier to success). Although 86% of organisations reported to use social media to market themselves extensively, just 17% of organisations surveyed are using enterprise social media platforms to effectively manage corporate pages, share information or receive and manage internal enquiries. On a more positive note 69% of organisations felt that the use of social networks would help to cut down unnecessary email and improve productivity.
Solution: Identify core areas in which social media can play a tangible role in improving the organisation and communicate clearly with the Senior Management teams. For example customer service teams are able to manage 8x more enquiries through social media compared to more traditional channels, making significant efficiency savings.
Understanding the definition of ‘social media’
In many organisations there is confusion surrounding the definition of ‘social media’. The truth is that the term means different things to different people and a lack of training adds to this inconsistency of understanding. Most people learn social media as they tackle it head on in disparate areas of an organisation and are often in a constant state of flux. There is typically no formal training or precedent of ‘how to do social media properly’.
Solution: Ensure that all core departments are included in the development of the organisation’s social media strategy and that there is a clear definition of the role that social media will play within the organisation. For example, to raise awareness of the organisation’s brand story, ensuring a consistent tone of voice, personality and type of content that is published.
IT and Information Security
For the IT Director social media poses a new set of challenges, gone are the days when an organisation’s ‘two sets of eyes’ policy meant sanity checking one or two pieces of print advertising each week. Now, organisations are tasked with monitoring several hundred interactions every day, putting a huge strain on already stretched IT departments.
Solution: Putting a social media platform in place, with risk and compliance capabilities that enables strict and consistent processes (such as audit trails, data storage and crisis management features) as well as offering heightened levels of automation, can put the IT Directors mind at ease.
The legal headaches
The complex and increasing regulations surrounding social media and the law are putting further pressure onto legal teams, further adding to the reluctance for the boardroom to embrace social media. This pressure is significantly increased in regulated industries (such as those that fall under the FCA social media guidance). Furthermore, the UK Defamation Act in 2013, has strengthened the protection for channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and encourages the victims of libel to pursue those responsible for damaging or defamatory media posts or reposts. This leaves organisations open to legal action if an employee or corporate account is involved.
Solution: Firstly, ensure the legal team is up to speed on the latest regulations affecting social media. Secondly, having a robust social media policy in place will ensure that employees are aware of the guidelines whilst giving them the confidence to deliver engaging social media.
With ignorance comes risk
Many organisations are making up the rules on social media engagement as they go, it is unsurprising that many in the corporate world are blissfully unaware of the risks involved. Multiple and disparate departments working independently from each other and often with different motives and objectives, merely adds to the general sense of confusion and detracts from a strong sense of cohesive focus, further adding to the board’s lack of understanding and support for this channel.
Solution: In order for enterprise social media to be adopted successfully it needs to be incorporated into the DNA of the organisation. Carry out a brainstorming session with representatives from all departments, exploring all of the potential challenges and risks that are bespoke to the organisation. This will help to ensure that the risks are accounted for and can be mitigated when developing the social media strategy.
Head in the sand mentality
The failure to see the bigger social picture can also lead to selected blindness or even fear. Some organisations still underestimate the reach and influence of social media, preferring to rely on tried and tested means of reputation management for their brand. Those that are underestimating the power of social media are well documented in the press when they fall foul to a social media crisis and are clearly un-prepared in their response. Those in regulated industries (like financial services) might be afraid to say anything on social media for fear of incurring heavy fines. For them, regulation is in danger of stifling innovation and engagement.
Solution: Education, education, education. This is critical in building an understanding of the opportunities that social media can offer any organisation. However, this needs to be done at a level in which the board can appreciate and will value; the impact to bottom line, the organisational savings and tangible benefits social media can offer.
If you would like support in building the business case for adopting an enterprise social media strategy or advice on how to breakdown the barriers to the boardroom, please get in touch with a member of the team.