Social Media and Leadership: Are Twitter and Facebook 21st Century Necessities? - By Aman Singh

Aug 22, 2011 3:20 PM ET

In Good Company: Singh on CSR

There is a lot of love for social media among many in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability community.

Lucy Marcus, founder of Marcus Venture Consulting, for example, posted a blog today on Harvard Business Review, that talks about a particular Groupon deal that annoyed her enough to tweet about it and how that rose several eyebrows and an eventual resolution.   David Connor recently wrote about his love for Twitter, calling it a fascination and being constantly impressed by the simplicity of engagement and the tangible sense of community the platform provides. In his post, he alluded to a recent confession of mine, simply titled: In Defense of Twitter: 5 Reasons Why I am a Mad Tweeter, which was a response to an alternatively headlined Wall Street Journal article.   For those interested, here is a recount of my top five:   1) Community: Twitter has provided me with a very diverse community of individuals who are eager to engage, argue and collaborate.   2) Soundboard: Without the 20 odd tweets I send out every day, I wouldn’t get any work done. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know—but it’s true. You’ve got to go where your audience is. They have a voice and they like to use it—and as a blogger, hearing what’s working and what’s not is inarguably essential.   3) Collaborations: And of course, without Twitter, I wouldn’t have made HR Examiner‘s Top 25 HR Digital Influencers for 2011 or named among the Top 100 Thought Leaders by Trust Across America. Nor would I have been able to successfully put together the recent panel on responsible business with Carol Sanford, Jeffrey Hollender, Sarah Murray and Bank of America, or been able to interview thought leaders like Campbell Soup’s Dave StangisPwC’s Shannon SchuylerEMC’s Kathrin Winkler and many others while at Vault—and collaborated with enterprising students like Ashley JablowCatherine Chong, entrepreneurs like Myles Lutheran and the EDF Climate Corp fellows, or published the much-referred to series on job hunting in CSR.   4) News: Believe it or not, Twitter has become a significant source of my daily news. With the help of coordinated lists, I can scan the morning news in one stream all at one source.   5) Innovation: How many times have you read an 800-word article in one the mainstream newspapers and thought “Wow, that’s interesting, I wonder how I could learn more” or “I’d love to get involved” but haven’t known what to do next? Well, because it’s so easy to connect with others on Twitter without having to jot down strenuous emails or phone calls, now you can!   But Connor also brought up transparency and corporate accountability.   And here is where most companies struggle with the plethora of choices available today under the domain of social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and the new kids on the block BranchOut and Google+, to name just a few.   So, how helpful are these channels? BRANDfog, a social media and CSR consulting firm launched a survey last week that begins to dig deeper into some of these questions.   Social Media and Leadership: Should CEOs be engaging on Twitter for example? Does that help gain trust with customers, loyalty with employees, or raise the bar on transparency?   Recruitment Decisions: Has social media become a benchmarking tool for prospective candidates in their recruitment decisions?   CSR and Sustainability: And does a presence on social media help companies illustrate their brand values, mission and corporate citizenship?   What do you think? Take this short survey and have your say. Is social media emerging as the differentiator in today’s crowded market of jobs, business, and consumer loyalty?