You better start swimmin’
or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’!
Yep, times are still changing, as more public company boards are lending their ears to digital directors who can develop their online marketing, social media and mobile device strategies. “Content marketing” is the new buzzword on everyone’s lips, and C-suite execs are finding themselves “increasingly ill-equipped in the boardroom” and, in many cases, digitally illiterate. This may be enough to scare many into hurriedly making a Facebook or Twitter page – but it’s not the whole story.
We operate in the “always-on” world where it’s becoming a requirement to be everywhere at all times. It doesn’t take newbies very long to figure out that it’s nearly impossible for a neophyte to keep tabs on what is trending across all social media platforms. High-level executives for industry giants such as Walt Disney, Monster Worldwide Inc., and ValueClick Inc. are finding that the digital domain is governed by a younger crowd. The 41-year-old digital strategist Mark Vadon, Chairman of zulily and Blue Nile, is younger than the rest of the members of Home Depot’s board, but has been lauded as a valuable asset since he joined the company last fall. The board’s independent lead director called him an “incredible addition.”
Startups tend to lack an established hierarchy; ideas can bubble up from anyone irrespective of their title or age. It’s part of their creative heritage – a stark contrast to the suit-and-tie standard of the corporate world. The fact that corporate boards demand the digital expertise of (often younger) strategists suggests that they too understand the need to become more hip and technologically trendy.
This shift in corporate thinking proves that you can’t afford to not pay attention to social media. It’s imperative to develop and maintain a profile and more importantly, create a presence in order to showcase your services, products, explain your purpose and engage with your fans and clients.
Think of it your social media presence as a living entity – in order to fully develop this ‘person’ it’s important to nurse and nurture it. It’s not enough just to be on social media (Facebook and Twitter presences are fast becoming the digital equivalent to having a pulse). Without constant attention and adaptation, no personal growth will take place. If you want to get the greatest return on your social media investment, treat your digital brand as if it were your baby.
Corporations have to learn to swim the waters of social media, or risk drowning in the digital sea. According to the Wall Street Journal, “thirty-seven of the 100 biggest U.S. companies lack directors with digital expertise, and only 16 have at least three such members comprising 20% of the board.” This opens up the field for online marketing companies looking to direct big name corporate boards. The relationship between corporate boards and digital directors is symbiotic – each needs the other. With the right care, these brands can thrive better online than offline. Because the times, they have changed.
* * *
“Brand” image courtesy of Shutterstock.