Corporate Eye

Social Media And Corporate Governance

zhuan-jiSocial media started with young people connecting with others. Now it is sweeping through corporations like wildfire, locusts… add your own metaphor.

Well, what does this mean for Corporate Governance? Similar to the Chinese symbol Zhuan ji, it means opportunity and danger.

The opportunities include the ability to:

  • connect with stakeholders like never before
  • build trust and reputation
  • get input from stakeholders
  • communicate with existing and potential employees.

But the risks include:

  • loss of intellectual property
  • disparaging the company or co-workers
  • posting embarrassing (to the company) content
  • possible legal liabilities
  • violations of the Code of Ethics

Such social media risks are a matter for Corporate Governance. Social media has progressed faster than companies’ ability to craft risk management schemes.

Forbes magazine published an interesting article addressing these risks , “A Corporate Guide For Social Media“, in which they state–

…here is a set of guidelines for corporations considering how to integrate social media in the workplace. If you are an executive, keep in mind two points as you gear up your social media strategy:

First, social technologies including blogs, social networks and Twitter are communication tools. That means a company’s social media approach must integrate with its existing communications channels and goals.

Second, if you think these guidelines don’t apply to you, you are probably already on the endangered species list.

Intel social media guidelines

Some companies already heed this advice.

For example, Intel Social Media guidelines for posting content by employees and contractors are available to the public, using an effective minimalist design that displays its social media guidelines and includes links to relevant resources.

Interestingly, Estee Lauder have included social media as a risk factor in their annual report (spotted by

And finally, here are some useful related resources that can help to design your Social Media guidelines:

Image from Living Chinese Symbols

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.