September 25, 2012

The Twitter Handbook: Overcoming Your Fears

Over the past 18 months, I have spoken at least a dozen times to groups about how social media impacts the securities laws, corporate governance – and your career. In our “Social Media” Practice Area, I have posted “The Twitter Handbook: Overcoming Your Fears” which I drafted as a common sense “nuts & bolts” guide that walks you through the process of signing up for Twitter, learning how to use it and understanding how to navigate Twitter etiquette and the rules of the road. I drafted it to help those of you out there that are scared of the unknown and might not be the most tech savvy. It’s only five pages long. Feel free to email me any questions you might have on any of the basics, etc.

Here’s something unusual that the FTC is doing: “FTC in Three.” Answering 3 questions via social media (Twitter & Facebook) each week. Anyone can submit questions via these social media vehicles – then the FTC chooses three of them and answers them in a video. I guess it shows the agency is hip and cool and williing to answer questions…

Don’t Tweet: “Board meeting. Good numbers=Happy Board”

This WSJ article entitled “Facebook and Twitter Postings Cost CFO His Job” will make the day for many lawyers that I have spoken in front of – the ones who want a hat to hang their hat when they try to convince a CEO client that they shouldn’t be on Twitter. In my opinion, those lawyers are the next generation of lawyers that follow those from 25 years ago that warned clients not to use email because of the things that might be said in writing. I wonder if lawyers were advising clients a hundred years ago not to use telephones?

My point is not that everyone should be on Twitter – in fact, it’s far from that. It’s that I dislike the kneejerk reaction of those that tell clients not to do something technological just because they don’t understand it. The fear of the unknown. Far too many lawyers have not spent more than a handful of minutes trying to understand Twitter – or social media in general for that matter – so I’m not convinced they are qualified to give an educated opinion on the topic.

And as for this particular CFO, consider this: isn’t the company far better off finding out now that he seems to not know what is appropriate to tell others? If this CFO has so little disregard for what his compliance obligations are, imagine what he was telling others on the golf course! Social media is just like any other avenue of communication – either you have a filter or you don’t. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be in the kind of job that requires you to have one. See John Palizza’s blog about this case…

Survey: Board Use of Technology

According to a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters Governance, Risk & Compliance, here’s a snapshot of ways that board materials are shared with directors:

– Board packs/books delivered physically by courier – 61%
– Board members print electronic files and carry them – 75%
– Documents sent to board members via personal, non-commercial email addresses – 73%
– Always establish email accounts and use exclusively for board communications – 10%

– Broc Romanek