Concerned about social media, a few boards have actively sought new directors with a social media background to bring that capability into their boardroom. A staff member of the National Association of Corporate Directors mentioned that directors are having a hard time because the candidates are generally in their 30s and 40s and directors worry about upsetting the collegiality of the boardroom. That is, how would a 30 or 40 year-old fit with a group of mostly older directors? In fact, boards are getting older. The number of boards with elderly members is growing because many boards are raising the age limit for retirement to 80 and some eliminating forced retirement altogether according to Joann S. Lublin in the Wall Street Journal.
Social media may be a helpful competency but so much of what is embedded in the Dodd-Frank Act is a call for greater transparency, better communication between directors and the shareholders who elect them. Social media is communication, albeit faster and user-generated. Since the concept of communicating directly with shareholders is a new concept, boards need the assistance of high-level communication strategists—either as board members or consultant –to help boards craft their own communication policy and get them ready for the dialogue shareholders are demanding.
What directors are really worried about is hijacked media where a company’s asset or campaign is taken hostage by those who oppose it. Managing social media is rooted in best communication practices including crisis management.