Stanford’s 2012 Social Media Survey (undertaken in collaboration with The Conference Board) reveals that there is an enormous gap between executives’ understanding of social media’s benefits for business and the actual application of social media and related tools.
2012 Social Media Survey – Stanford Graduate School Of Business
Less than a third of companies today use social media to support their corporate strategy and risk management practices, according to new research conducted by Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, the Center for Leadership Development and Research at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and The Conference Board.
In the report titled “What Do Corporate Directors and Senior Managers Know about Social Media?” the authors detail the results of a survey of more than 180 senior executives and corporate directors of North American public and private companies. The findings reveal a disconnect between companies’ understanding of social media and the actions they are taking to apply it to their business. The report appears in the latest Directors Notes published by The Conference Board.
“Companies appreciate the potential that social media can have to transform all aspects of their business: branding, reputation, communication, outreach, and identifying strategic risks,” says Professor David F. Larcker of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and lead author of the study. “They also realize the serious threats that it can pose. They’re just not doing very much about it.”
I am relatively unsurprised by this study’s conclusions, although the degree to which companies are behind the times is staggering. The study showed that only 24% of senior management and only 8% of board directors receive reports based on social media metrics and findings, suggesting a serious ‘social blindness’ at the topmost levels of business. And that blindness is almost intentional: 90% of the survey’s respondents — which are drawn from CEOs, senior executives, and directors across major industries in the US and Canada — say they understand the value of social media in the business, but only 32% say their companies monitor social media to assess risks.
The next years are likely to see a shift in these numbers, but perhaps only as older and socially blind executives retire.