My nephew, a marketing and business undergraduate in the UK, recently applied for a summer internship with a large soft drinks manufacturer. He got the interview but was alarmed to be asked this question: “Do you have a Facebook fan page [learn more] with more than five hundred people signed up?” He has a Facebook page, and many friends, but he hasn’t attempted to create a fan site—and that counted against him.
The company, of course, wanted access to large groups of twenty-somethings so they could push their products to their target market at the touch of a button. Joe is as addicted to texting and tweeting as any young adult, but, when it mattered, his lack of social media savvy cost him a job opportunity. Be sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you in your board career.
Neil Braun, a corporate board member of NACD, director of IMAX, and newly appointed dean of the Lubin School of Business at Pace University, believes that digital media expertise is now an essential board competency, especially for directors who sit on the boards of consumer products companies. (Here’s a quick look at why B2Bs & B2Cs use social media.)
Neil believes that good directors add value to the company by truly understanding the industry and what customers want. “It goes way beyond Twitter or Facebook,” he says. “Your customers can make or break your company by using Yelp or Foursquare to damn you—or attract a giant crowd.”
Neil’s contention is that risk governance isn’t possible without acute social media awareness—and that directors cannot be a strategic asset to their companies unless they “get it.”
NACD is looking for tweeting, blogging and yelping directors to take part in a panel discussion at this year’s NACD Corporate Governance Conference.