Does social media have a glass-ceiling problem? Even as companies rush to exploit social media in every conceivable way, a report from The Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University finds that senior executives don’t seem to take the results seriously — if they look at them at all. For example:
• Fewer than 24 percent of companies report that senior management sees reports gleaned from social media metrics; even fewer (14 percent) build it into their KPIs.
• Twenty percent say social media information is too low-level for senior management, and 32 percent say it’s too low-level for board members.
Ironically, senior executives are actually more likely than the population at large to use social media (see table). So if they’re laggards, it’s not because they’re unfamiliar with the platforms. More often, surveys find, companies simply fail to collect social media data, and when they do, they’re unlikely to pass it up the chain of command. In those rare cases in which companies collect it and senior execs see it, they say they find it helpful. The lesson here? To paraphrase a classic “Seinfeld” joke, it’s not enough to read the tweets; you have to analyze the tweets.
“One key reason the lead decision makers aren’t up to speed,” theorizes consultant Shel Holtz on his blog, “is that, despite any [social media] training given to employees, the board and C-suite rarely undergo any training themselves. When was the last time you took a training course [and saw] an executive VP among the other students? Somehow . . . membership in the upper echelon of the corporate org chart seems to confer special status that assumes you can no longer benefit from a training program.”