In this day and age, it comes as something of a shock when businesses fail to acknowledge the influence of social media. That's why I was so surprised by the latest FT-ICSA Boardroom Bellwether survey, as reported by Professional Outsourcing Magazine, which found that one in three UK boards still deem social media as unimportant.
Even more shockingly, the bi-annual survey of FTSE 350 companies found that only 7% of UK boardrooms had discussed social media more than four times in the past 12 months; and nearly half (yes half!) had not even discussed their social media strategy in the past year.
As the article rightly points out, companies cannot simply hide away from social media and hope that it will disappear. Although some companies might see this as the easy option - and one that will reduce their chances of receiving negative feedback or making an embarrassing social media faux pas - social media is getting bigger and more powerful each day, so that attitude simply won’t cut it nowadays.
And because social media is already a huge part of our lives, it's almost inevitable that somebody, somewhere will be saying something online about your business. So surely it's far better to have your own say and contribute to that conversation, than to have clients, prospects or stakeholders make assumptions on the opinions of others?
Taking control of your online presence and building a meaningful social strategy that reflects your company in a positive light - and engages with your audience - is one of the best things you can do to make your business a success.
Whether it's using Twitter to share news, respond to feedback and communicate with others in the industry; developing networks and business relationships with LinkedIn; or even using Facebook to promote a positive brand image; social media is an active process that needs regular time, attention and resources dedicated to it.
And it's a two-way process, I hasten to add. This means that rather than just viewing the channel as a platform on which to promote yourself, view it also as a communication tool that allows you to listen in to what your clients, staff, partners and suppliers are saying. You'll soon see the advantages multiply.
So, be prepared to handle every aspect of conversation that might come your way - the good, the bad and the ugly - and make the most of the unique opportunity that social media offers.
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