NACD had the honor of being named a Champion in the inaugural Social Media Leadership Awards, hosted on Nov. 8 by Knowledge@Wharton and Social Strategy1 with support from Ernst & Young. Judges for the awards looked for organizations that have achieved success in overcoming a challenge through the use of social media in the following categories: Globalization, Entrepreneurship, People (HR), Corporate Governance, Customer Service, Financial Services, Marketing, Media, Municipalities & Governments, Social Media Start-Ups, Education and Non-Profit.
NACD’s Research Manager Kate Iannelli and NACD Directorship Assistant Editor Cheryl Soltis Martel, who spearhead NACD’s social media efforts, represented NACD during the event. Iannelli also spoke on a panel where other category champions, including Aon, Cognizant, Girl Scouts of the USA, the Society for Human Resource Management and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, shared best practices.
Social Media Challenges
Acting as the voice of the director on social media platforms, NACD faced the challenges of building a social media strategy that would speak with a unified voice while representing a diverse community that largely operates behind closed doors. According to a recent study from The Conference Board and Stanford University, just 56 percent of executives and directors claim to have a “good” understanding of the impact that social media can have on their business. Demonstrating the limited professional use, just 10 percent indicated that a member of their board used social media to make a public announcement or engage with constituents.
To help bridge this utilization gap, NACD’s strategy has been to take leading social media practices and adapt them to fit the demographics of its audience, mainly focusing on the channels of blog, Twitter and LinkedIn. “We’re not asking our members to check into their board meetings on Foursquare,” Iannelli said during the best practices panel. For the last several years, NACD has utilized events, such as the annual Board Leadership Conference, to test different social media strategies. The congregation of attendees combined with a large amount of information generated during panels, speeches and the like creates an incubator, from which it becomes evident what works and what does not.
NACD also manages two Twitter accounts, due to the acquisition of Directorship magazine in 2010, with different missions. NACD’s Twitter channel is focused on encouraging community engagement while the magazine’s Twitter channel is primarily a news delivery vehicle.
Both Iannelli and Martel feel strongly about the need to engage the director community through social media and took on the responsibility of establishing NACD’s social media strategy, benchmarking progress and developing solutions on emerging issues. “It would be a missed opportunity if we just ignored these digital platforms,” Martel said.
During the Social Media Leadership Awards workshops, NACD was able to both learn and contribute strategies and ideas. During the Customer Experience Management panel, Shayna Beck, head of retail social media and an attorney with the Vanguard Group, shared a model Vanguard was able to implement. The fund established a working group composed of representatives from various internal departments—including legal, compliance, business managers—to ensure commitment from across the organization.
On the second panel, How Social is Driving Entrepreneurship, Phil Pearlman, executive editor at StockTwits and partner at Social Leverage, explained how his company applies Twitter to finance and allows users to follow stocks. Pearlman is interested in how social media might be used to predict market trends. (The Center for White Rose Studies, a champion in the media category, has a great content recap on its blog.)
The Social Media Leadership Awards wasn’t just a two-day event—it’s an ongoing initiative that will allow NACD and other champions and finalists to collaborate and share ideas throughout 2013. Additionally a series of white papers will be produced on each award category. NACD is focused on taking some of the leading practices from the workshops and tailoring them to its social media strategy for next year.