While much has been said, written and blogged about social media’s value in cultivating relationships with customers and generating market opportunities, there has been much less attention paid to the potential of such media as a tool to engage investors, who are using the Web in growing numbers for their investment due diligence.
Believe it or not, there is a growing contingent within the investor relations (“IR”) ranks that believes social media platforms offer public companies a cost-effective channel to further differentiate themselves with investors.
In fact, some corporations are already using innovative ways to communicate with shareholders and raise awareness with potential investors – from using Twitter as a way to further disseminate major corporate announcements or solicit questions in advance of an investor event, to conducting facility tours or product promotions via YouTube , to creating truly interactive annual reports. (Author note: Despite what you might think, investors love things besides numbers. We nerdy IR types call such things “intangible assets.”)
Over the next three weeks, we’ll take a look at this growing trend. Consider me your correspondent from the mythical land of IR–where capitalists roam like free-range chickens and recent MBA grads have the unalienable right to tell the most senior members of management teams how best to run their businesses.
For many companies, social media tools not only help to stretch their investor communications budgets, they are also helping to level the playing field in the competition for investor awareness. I’ll give you some real-world examples of companies putting social media to work in their IR programs in my next post.
Before that, let’s take a few minutes to discuss how to get started, as social media programs are not “one-size-fits-all” in any context, let alone in an IR effort. Before developing a social media strategy, your company should first determine which tools would be most effective in achieving your specific objectives. There are several questions to ask:
- What are you hoping to accomplish?
- How will you measure success?
- What sites are your target investors using, and what are they saying about your company, if anything?
- Who are the influencers within those communities?
- What online tools are your peers using to reach investors?
Armed with answers to these questions, you can determine if social media is right for you and, if so, which channels would be best to use in your effort to further engage with investors while amplifying your value proposition (read: why now is the right time for investors to own your stock).
As I said earlier, we’ll take a closer look at some of the brave explorers among the IR ranks next week. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what questions you think those in the IR ranks should be considering as they evaluate the pros/cons of social media strategy