In the spring of 2012, The Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University conducted a survey of executives and board members to gain insight into how senior-level decision makers in North American companies view social media, and the extent to which they incorporate it into their corporate strategy and risk management practices.
The survey intends to assess the sophistication of boards of directors and senior management regarding the business uses of social media. Unlike most surveys on social media, which rely on a demographic of mostly young practitioners, the survey sample includes only representatives from the highest level of the organization: CEOs, senior executives, and members of the board of directors….The findings provide evidence of a general awareness and understanding of the potential of social media as a sales and marketing platform. Consistent with the results of other studies, survey results show that directors and executives appreciate the opportunity that social media offers to reach new customers and interact with them in a personaland direct way. They also understand the potential risk that social media poses in terms of product branding and corporate reputation.
There is little evidence, however, that companies are acting on this knowledge to make operational decisions. Companies appear to be relatively unsophisticated when it comes to formally gathering data from social media and incorporating them into corporate strategy,operational plans, and risk management. Directors and executives do not request this information nor rely onit for decision making. However, those who do rely on this information find it useful in pursuing corporate objectives.
The findings suggest considerable opportunity for companies that develop a reliable infrastructure for capturing data from social media and distilling them into an actionable, usable form for corporate decision makers.