Investor relations professionals and securities regulators have long been at odds with social media. Although each side has been curious using social media channels as a means to engage the investment community and their counterpart, both have exhibited hesitation, in the hope the other party would use it as a business communication medium. Is social media a public company’s marketing communication dream or a compliance nightmare? With 80% of institutional investors using social media as part of their daily workflow, publicly traded companies are starting to realize that investors, both retail and institutional are active online, representing a notable opportunity to build a community of highly targeted followers. Some of the most important conversations are those you have with your investors, and securing your investors trust can develop to sizable goodwill and therefor marketing value. So let’s talk about why harnessing social media can make a difference in your Investor Relations campaign.

Monitor Social Media Activity

Social media platforms represent the best pace to gather feedback from the investment community. As a matter of fact, Investors have widely adopted Twitter as part of their due diligence. Monitoring potential investors, stock analysts, financial reporters, regulators and your shareholders conversations about your industry and your stock provides insight to those opinions and values, that can be embodied in your company’s vision and future communications strategy.

Encourage Reactivity and Transparency

Dynamic companies are thought to be investment-health companies. Becoming involved in real time user comments about key disclosures such as the publication of annual reports, industry conferences, stock splits et al. Provides an opportunity to correct any message misalignment, encourage more discussions about your company affairs and foster name recognition.

Prepare for a Crisis

Everyone involved with Capital Markets has experienced good times, bad times, and the even worse from time to time. While markets usually give you an indication as to how they will move beforehand, the internet is a different beast entirely. Last summer, NYSE-listed IDI Inc., an information solutions provider, experienced a sudden selloff. It began after an anonymous blog post had been published on a number of sites suggesting that the companies stock was worth nothing, even though shares were trading in the $11 dollar range at the time. While a process management process typically involves issuing a press release, IDI’s management team responded with an interview and blog post, shredding each point to bits in near real-time. IDI Inc’s shares stabilized the very next day.

Reinforce Offline Media Channels

As part of any communication strategy, it is important that all media channels you are leveraging as part of your Investor Relations campaign works with each other. Cross-channel promotion provides investors and shareholders many ways to be exposed to and interact with your company and its key staff. Social media represent great way to get your offline media, such as appearances in the press in front of more eyeballs, while getting a better understanding of how you can effectively communicate with investors and shareholders through these channels.

How to Harness Social Media in Your IR Strategy

Social media has changed the way businesses communicate publicly If your organization has not yet implemented a social media strategy, you might be ceding ground to competitors that can be difficult to get back. If you are wondering how to get started, here’s a few things to consider.

  1. a) Create a Policy. Setting a governance structure in place for your social media programs outlines what information can be shares, establishes workflows and allocates responsibilities and unlocks your workforce brain trust for productivity and innovation – all while staying compliant.
  2. b) Create Destinations. Every communications strategy must have a purpose. Whether you are looking to gain new followers, improve your search engine page rank or engage with your shareholders, outline what you see your social media achieving and establish goals and measurement metrics to see how effective each channel is performing, and make data driven decisions as what you can do better.
  3. c) Treat Each Social Media Channel Differently. Investing time in understanding the nuances of each social media network will allow you to evaluate how to use each channel. LinkedIn is suitable for sharing corporate updates, from any careers you have available to quarterly results, while StockTwits is ideal for earning announcements and Q&A’s with management. One thing I have found to work very well is putting a picture of a quote from a CEO in a tweetled to 3x times as many people reading a press release from Twitter. The key takeaway here is to re-purpose content and use each social media channel appropriately.
  4. d) Manage the Experience. Ultimately social media is not about analytics and metrics but about converting the data to meaning and improving your shareholders and investors experience with you. Keep your social media efforts aligned with your long-term objectives, creating and sharing content that is most likely to solicit a response from your audience. Never forget that the number reason you are doing this is for them.

Bottom Line

Whether you are driving traffic to your website or your content, or simply using Social Media for monitoring, Investor Relations professionals using social media have a competitive advantage over their competitions. Harnessing social media as part of your Investor Relations strategy will help you gain perspectives on topics relevant to your investors, interact with industry people and become thought leaders in your field. If you haven’t released your earnings yet, leave a comment below and I would be happy to walk you through how to incorporate social media as part of your earnings disclosures.