What Do Senior Managers Really Want to Know About Social Media?

A study by the Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University reveals the reasons why senior managers bring in experts to inform their company about social media.

What is it that CEOs and senior executives think they should know about social media that they don’t already know?

One way to get at that answer is to find the reasons why a CEO or senior staff brought in a consultant or expert to educate the firm about social media. An interesting study published last October by the Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University provides some data and insights on that question. The report, entitled What Do Corporate Directors and Senior Managers Know About Social Media?, shared the results of a survey it conducted in April 2012 of CEOs, Board Members and other executives from a variety of industries. The researchers asked respondents who brought in an outside expert (a total of 32% of the total) why they did so.

The word cloud below surfaces the most commonly used words from the respondents’ replies (omitting the most common words and phrases, including social, media, companies and business):

wordcloud-social-biz

Interestingly, LinkedIn was mentioned frequently as a reason to bring in an expert to help with the following business issues:

  • "To discuss the benefits of having a fully loaded LinkedIn profile for business development purposes"
  • "To explain business benefits of a properly designed LinkedIn presence"
  • "To advise us and our clients on how to leverage LinkedIn effectively"
  • "To assess our brand positioning and development of social media tools (e.g. blogging, LinkedIn)
  • "To show us the way to use LinkedIn for pushing information out to clients and potential clients on our capabilities"

Other responses to the question as to why an expert was brought in included:

  • "To develop social media rules, and to develop an internal social media employee communication website"
  • "To help us structure our knowledge center to be most effective, as it captures blogs and all other sources of information on the Net"
  • "Determining the value proposition and risk associated with using Social Media"
  • "How to integrate social media into our external communications efforts"
  • "Promotion of new products through social media"
  • "To familiarize the board with some of the ways management was trying to reach out through social media"

We plan on continuing this series on social media in the C-suite in future blog posts and features.