IR Magazine asks ‘Are IROs unfollowing social media?’ providing Nestle closing its @Nestle_IR Twitter account as an example of a diminishing trend of organisations maintaining standalone IR focused social media accounts. So is there a place for social media in investor relations?
The consistently strong rise of the official Twitter account of World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) Investor Relations department contrasts the apparent mute button on the IR voice on social media. WWE’s main Twitter accounts see 5.84 million (@WWE) and 2.69 million followers (@WWEuniverse). The organisation’s @WWEinvestor IR Twitter account has over 41,800 followers, while its Facebook page sees over 6,800 likes. This reflects a smaller proportion of interested parties making up its investor audience, but note that this is a qualified audience. When compared to other focused IR accounts, WWE has quite a bit more fight.
Social media is integral to WWE’s growth strategy and success measures. In its Q3 2015 earnings call, the company confirmed plans to “further leverage its sizeable social media and digital assets to acquire and retain new subscribers”. WWE’s chief strategy and financial officer states “Key metrics… including social media presence demonstrate the increasing strength of our WWE brands, which are the foundation of our long-term growth.”
An IR presence or point of contact is essential for your investors and shareholders. This presence can take many forms, including social media. In April 2013, the US Securities and Exchange Commission advised that companies can use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to announce key information in compliance with Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure), as long as investors have been alerted about which platform will be used.
IR activity on social media equates to PR and communications focused on your investor audience. Social media and digital strategy is increasingly defined and managed by IR and PR teams working in collaboration, and although social media may not be the most appropriate means for you to communicate with investors and other stakeholders, it is essential to listen to what they are saying.
The UK’s IR Society offers guidelines for Using Social Media in an IR context: “Successfully engaging on social media can increase the reach of your communications to potential investors, enhance your engagement with existing investors and analysts, improve control of your messaging, increase traffic to your corporate website…”
Engagement with social media is also increasingly intrinsic to risk management and crisis communications planning. You cannot exhaustively control what is said about your organisation online, but you need to know what is being said. Monitoring allows you to assess the most appropriate degree of engagement, the most appropriate platforms to interact with, and understand and address the concerns of your target audience of current and future investors, as well as journalists and analysts.
My specialist top tips for social media monitoring in an IR context:
- Cover all your bases - search for the legal business name, alternative company names and the stock ticker symbol
- Identify and prioritise platforms – such as Twitter for journalists breaking news and investor forums for investor sentiment and the rumour mill
- Understand your context – listen to broader industry focused investor conversation and look for competitor insight
- Define your measures – against what are you looking to achieve
- Be consistent – regularly review activity and engagement online, and use your key messaging to respond to your stakeholders, regardless of the medium
A parting thought from the great WWE Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. A man with 53 million likes on Facebook and 9.6 million Twitter followers: “The road to success and greatness is always paved with consistent hard work. Outwork your competitors, be authentic and above all else, chase your greatness”.