Social Media for Directors

Winnie Yu recommends directors join LinkedIn. Patricia Lenkov, president of Agility Executive Search, advises joining a LinkedIn group that interests you. A search for “corporate governance” turned up 186 groups when the article was written. Last I checked it was 240.

Want the latest corporate governance news on Twitter? Lucy P. Marcus, CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting and a board director herself (@lucymarcus), recommends following:

Social Media Networking: Quick Tips for Busy Directors – First Quarter 2011 – I’m delighted to be in the company of such fine tweeters. Social Media has great potential to help us all learn from each other.

Bill Baue and Marcy Murninghan authored working paper several months ago that deserves wide circulation and thoughtful consideration among directors and others. The Accountability Web: Weaving Corporate Accountability and Interactive Technology can be downloaded from the website of the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Let’s take a quick look at the paper’s recommendations, greatly abbreviated here:

  • Adapt, Don’t Just Adopt. Don’t just extend your existing model, use Web 2.0 for engagement/dialogue to enhance accountability.
  • Cultivate Participation. Build community and technology in parallel; don’t assume if you build it, they will come.
  • Develop Clear Terms of Engagement. Electronic media is susceptible to misunderstanding. Set guidelines for critiquing practices and policies, not people. Use assessment and feedback mechanisms to identify keys to success and flag problems.
  • Foster Mutual Accountability. Model self-accountability, when asking other parties to hold themselves accountable, to create a culture of mutual accountability.
  • Use Blended Engagement. Augment Web-based communication with face-to-face meetings, choosing the medium based on which is most likely to serve the objectives.
  • Broaden the Media Palette. Social networking, augmented reality (AR) and wikis tools may be pushing the envelope too quickly, try them internally first to unfreeze thinking.
  • Build Communities of Inquiry and Practice.  Utilize experts with experience in building communities of inquiry and practice to convene, facilitate, moderate, and/or curate online engagement.

Additional advice can be found from one of our stakeholders, Corporate Responsibility Magazine. The Jan/Feb 2011 issue carries an article not aimed at directors but more generally to company employees entitled The Gathering Storm of Social Network Litigation, which includes a brief Social Media Policy: Best Practices, abbreviated here:

  • Bring something to the discussion. Write about what you know, be transparent about who you are, and speak in an authentic voice.
  • Be explicit that your views are your own. Make it known up front you do not represent the views of the company, unless you are authorized to speak for the organization. Giving your company email address identifies your employer, even if you do not explicitly do so.
  • Talk as you would to a customer. Despite disclaimers, assume that your online discussion is being read by a customer or potential customer and post accordingly.
  • Don’t give away secrets. Employees who share confidential or proprietary information risk losing their job and possibly ending up as a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
  • Take responsibility for what you write. You are legally liable for anything you write online and can be disciplined for content or images that are defamatory, pornographic, harassing, libelous, or that create a hostile work environment.
  • Give credit where it’s due. Make sure you credit content and that they approve of its use.
  • Be productive. Use social media to engage customers and members of the public in intelligent conversation; don’t let it interfere with your other duties.
  • Remember: The Internet is forever. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want to see attached to your name forever.

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3 Responses to Social Media for Directors

  1. James McRitchie 03/02/2011 at 9:57 pm #

    And we can now circle back to Marcy Murninghan’s latest post Proxy Resolutions, Shareholder Engagement, and Buggy Whips. Avoid falling victim to the “buggy whip” phenomenon by using yesterday’s technology, keep up-to-date with the The Murninghan Post. (Hint: all the way down our blogroll to the letter T)

    “Shareholder engagement is on the rise, but can benefit from ‘transmedia mobilization’—that is, a greater understanding, adoption, and experimentation with a range of digital tools, including (but not restricted to) social media.”


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