Ask any digital expert to name the key factors to successful social media communications and the number one item on the list will be “senior management support.” But what do senior managers and C-suite executives know about social media? Do they use social media?

In a 2012 report by Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance titled “What Do Corporate Directors and Senior Managers Know about Social Media?” the authors detail the results of a survey of more than 180 senior executives and corporate directors of North American public and private companies. The findings reveal a disconnect between companies’ understanding of social media and the actions they are taking to apply it to their business.

Key findings include:

  • While 90% of respondents claim to understand the impact that social media can have on their organization, only 32% of their companies monitor social media to detect risks to their business activities and 14% use metrics from social media to measure corporate performance.
  • Only 24% of senior managers and 8% of directors surveyed receive reports containing summary information and metrics from social media. Approximately half of the companies do not collect this information at all.
  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) use social media for personal purposes, and 63% for business purposes. Of those who use social media, 80% have a LinkedIn account and 68% have a Facebook account, demonstrating that executives and board members are familiar with this medium.

Senior Execs and Social Media

Still, only 59% of companies in the survey use social media to interact with customers, 49% to advertise, and 35% to research customers. Approximately 30% use social media to research competitors, research new products and services, or communicate with employees and other stakeholders.

Find a link to the report here.

What applies to corporations in general is probably even more true of corporations in the pharmaceutical sector, which have traditionally lagged behind other sectors in adoption of digital tools.

My friend and feminine Twitter alter ego Alexandra Fulford (@pharmaguapa on Twitter — Alex tells me that this handle is derived from the Spanish word “guapa,” which means “lovely”) developed a comprehensive, global social media training program while working as a consultant for Novartis in Basel, Switzerland. Alexandra will be my guest on an April 30 Pharma Marketing Talk show/podcast where she will discuss the need for social media training of pharmaceutical senior managers:

  • Why should senior management get social media training?
  • What should training incorporate?
  • How should they learn about social media?
  • When should they learn?

Listen to the audio podcast archive here: