Kristin Dyak, Cyphers Digital Marketing Director, offers board members advice on using social media & virtual meetings to improve governance

Board Leadership, a national professional journal for members of both corporate and nonprofit boards, published a byline by Kristin Dyak, Cyphers Digital Marketing Director, on using social media and virtual meetings to improve their governance and operations.

Here’s the full byline:

Social media can serve as an incredibly powerful tool for organizations and individual board members to raise awareness of their existence, their mis- sions, and their messages.

However, when utilized effectively it can also greatly improve board governance—not only by making your requisite monthly meetings easier and smoother to run but also, perhaps, by making these sometimes mundane tasks more engaging as well.

As a current member of two boards, those of the Chesapeake Chapter
of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Broadway Crew,
a promotional staffing resource for Broadway-related brands and events, I’ve seen these improvements happen firsthand by helping introduce and implement just a few easy-to-adopt actions.

With that in mind, here are my top recommendations.

How Boards Can Utilize Social Media for Better Governance

As any board member knows, it can be—or more accurately, always is!—a challenge to find meeting times that suit everyone’s schedule and actually get your board members to attend them. For larger boards in particular, social media can be a useful way to promote meetings to boost attendance. Boards that prefer public awareness can publicize the specified date, time, and place across the various social media platforms to ensure a wide and relative audience. And if you would prefer to keep things more private, the use of direct messaging, LinkedIn InMails, Facebook, and LinkedIn groups are optimal for sharing information about the meeting, such as links and agendas, via a more limited means.

It’s also worth considering creating a private Facebook or LinkedIn group for board members to create a more casual space for continued discussion and community. Private groups pro- vide a place for board members to correspond and engage beyond the formality of email. Group leaders and members can share information about the board, whether asking for feed- back or asking members to share the information with their larger networks. It also gives the members the opportunity to discuss an issue, agenda item, policy change, etc., in a private forum before releasing information to a pub- lic audience. Fun, lighthearted content is also welcomed in Facebook groups, such as sharing pictures of your holiday decorations or pets. Bringing a human quality to the conversations among your board members and allowing them to get to know each other can lead to greater collaboration on initiatives and decisions.

The content you choose to post on the organization’s social media channels is important for a few reasons. First, it showcases the identity of the organization in general, plus its members and leaders. Second, it can create a place for conversation within the comments and enhance your digital community. And third, it allows the leaders (board members) to champion the organization’s mis- sion by engaging in the content and projecting the overall reach. Encourage your board members to increase their year-round participation and engagement by promoting initiatives, events, and announcements on social media. Whether it’s sharing the con- tent posted on the organization’s page or posting content on their own pages, the extended reach will help spread the word along with reinforcing your support.

How Boards Can Utilize Virtual Meetings for Better Governance

Virtual meeting platforms are well equipped with share capabilities. Providing resources such as documents, hyperlinks, and jpeg images through the chat function during the meeting will help streamline your meetings by allowing you to pass these assets around in real-time instead of relying on members to search through their inboxes and desktops. Another helpful feature is screen-sharing, which allows the group to view a presentation, video, or document simultaneously, thereby ensuring that you’re all on the same page and, as an added bonus, better holding everyone’s attention.

When scheduling, it’s important to make sure the meeting is organized for optimal communication among the group. Including Q&A portions throughout is a great way to allow and encourage everyone to engage in the conversation without trying to get your attention by interrupting. Social cues are a greater challenge during a virtual meeting than in-person, so take your time and give a moment to the group. It can be time-consuming and a bit of chaos to ask everyone to chime in aloud. Again, turning to the chat function for the group to submit their questions and/or answers is a stream- lined way to participate without being disruptive. And if your board needs to time meet in smaller groups or committees, consider using the breakout room function available in a number of virtual meeting platforms, such as Zoom, to meet separately and then rejoin the larger group.

Keeping the group engaged can be one of the largest challenges when it comes to virtual meetings. The attendees are combating distractions on their computers and devices in addition to those in their surroundings, such as kids or street traffic. One way to keep everyone focused is to help encourage more engagement opportunities during the meeting. This can be done by using polling and hand-raising functions. Again, it’s important to not disturb the flow of the meeting or distract the leaders with unnecessary interruptions, but the built-in tools that the platforms have enhanced for greater usage can ensure that every- one is engaged and heard.

As social media continues to evolve, it’s essential for boards of all shapes and sizes—and all board members— to continuously consider how they
can take advantage of it. Using it to improve attendance and communication, both during and outside of the meetings themselves, is a way to do so and, in my experience, well worth the effort.

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