社交媒体：企业高管的短板 / Top Managers: Still Not Up to Speed on Social Media
最近，世界大型企业联合会（The Conference Board）和斯坦福大学洛克公司治理中心通过调查，总结出北美地区企业高管对社交媒体商业用途的认知程度。
Top Managers: Still Not Up to Speed on Social Media
A new study by The Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University provides insight into how well top management executives of North American companies understand the business uses of social media.
Unlike most other studies on social media to date, this one focused on CEOs, senior executives, and board members. The respondents' average age is mid-50s, and they work in a wide spectrum of different industries. More than half work in companies with revenues of US$500 million or more.
The survey results show a varied landscape of awareness. On the one hand, there is a fairly high degree of general awareness of the use of social media as a marketing and communications platform.
The same is true concerning awareness of the potential risks posed by social media insofar as product branding and corporate reputation.
On the other hand, top management executives are generally not tapping into the data which is available from social media and incorporating this information into the business strategy and operational planning process.
In other words, top management in North American companies gets a very mixed score on their grasp of the range of what social media can do for their businesses.
As a member of the age demographic studied in this survey, it strikes me as yet another illustration of how the geeks and the geezers need to do a better job of talking to each other. This is the case not only in North America, but all over the place.
The survey authors come to a similar conclusion, pointing to important new business opportunities in the executive summary which begins the survey results:
"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."
That's another way of saying that the geeks need to do a better job of explaining the potential business applications of social media to the geezers, not in the abbreviated gobbledygook which is the universal geek dialect, but in mainstream everyday language.
I am reminded of the Chinese saying "Chickens talking with ducks" which aptly describes the usual conversations between geeks and geezers.
That's also to say that those who rise to this challenge will tap into a potentially very lucrative business opportunity. I agree with that observation. Among survey respondents, 52.5% said their companies have not hired a consultant or expert to present on the subject of social media.
There is no doubt that social media have fundamentally changed the relationship between consumers and companies. Nowhere is this more evident than in China, but it is now a global reality.
An Edelman survey highlights 2012 as a milestone for social media in that, for the first time, "listening to customers" ranked equal to "providing high quality products or services" in building trust in a company.
Consumers expect to be able to engage with companies and brands through social media. Employees, especially younger ones, prefer to work for a company which is actively utilizing social media.
Another finding in the Conference Board survey is that at the senior management level, most companies are not gathering and circulating reports containing summary metrics from social media. The most frequently cited reason why is that the company does not collect this information.
Among the recommendations at the end of the survey is for management to incorporate a "listening system" to capture social media data and transform it into metrics. The authors cite several off-the-shelf software services than scan blogs, tweets, and other social media and convert the data into quantitative and qualitative metrics.
Given the Chinese consumers' robust embrace of social media on such a massive and fast-growing scale, it would be interesting to explore the attitudes of top management in larger Chinese companies on similar questions to the ones contained in this survey.
My guess is that, like the Chinese consumers, top management may well be ahead of the knowledge curve compared with their North American counterparts, on the business applications of social media.
Comments and observations welcome!