What is surprising is the extent to which the IR community continues to justify its lack of social media engagement by looking inward - principally at peers and others that have not yet ventured into the water. Using tepid levels of engagement as a yardstick, much of the IR community still seems comforted that abstinence is an appropriate strategy, a position that is often validated by counsel and others who are not judged by metrics of investment community engagement.
Catalyst Global is Here to Help
In our view, the risks of modest engagement on the IR front are limited if you follow a well thought out plan. We also believe it will be increasingly hard to defend a "head in the sand" social media posture. Getting engaged and informed on what it is and how it can help you is the best offense and defense.
Social Media TipsFor those already engaged in social media in some fashion, we offer a few social media tips to which we may add others going forward...
Create an IR-Specific Social Media Presence - Because investor relations information and perspective is often different than normal corporate, sales, marketing or other company communications, we believe your IR social media efforts should be conducted in a separate account that is clearly noted as being for IR use. Our practice is to use "IR" as the suffix for such accounts and we see others doing this as well. Of course corporate and other accounts can support each other and share similar messages as circumstances and strategy suggest. Leveraging consumer or industry awareness to introduce an IR opportunity can make a lot of sense for some companies.
Use Stock Symbol References - Stock symbol nomenclature was started at StockTwits and later adopted by Twitter and other sites. In most IR related posts, you should append a dollar sign ($) prefix to your stock symbol as in: $IBM $GOOG, $AAPL. The $ identifies a stock symbol, creating a searchable reference for investor-related posts. While you can search a symbol without the $ sign, it will yield a good deal of non-relevant material, not a focused set of stock related data.
Searching on #MUX will yield posts on a variety of non-stock topics including a home delivery service in Pakistan!
This hold true for posts relating to public company partners, customers or even industry peers; make sure to use the $ approach. In our experience, posts that include multiple stock symbols, properly referenced, achieve several fold greater visibility and engagement those with just one client symbol.
We'll use Twitter as the example for what we mean, but it's relevant with other social media services. The problem is that often when you click on the "share" button to retweet or share a social media post, the social media "handle" or account name for the source of the post is not properly identified with their searchable social media name (which in the case of Twitter is signified by the prefix "@" as in @CatalystIR NOT CatalystIR NOR #CatalystIR)
To share the following trade publication article via Twitter to highlight further industry demand for fingerprint biometrics in support of a client...
Pictures and Video - Where possible, add pictures or video to your social media efforts to enhance your communication and to attract more attention. Scroll down the postings on StockTwits and you will see how much an image expand the real estate of you post and helps to attract attention. While the image function seems focused on stock charts, any photo will work.
StockTwits Syndication - StockTwits is a "Twitter-like" social media service catering specifically to investors. It provides a targeted audience for IR efforts (though the site does seem to skew more to traders than fundamental investors) and pioneered the $ stock symbol nomenclature mentioned above.
Companies pay a modest fee to established a validated corporate account so that investors can be certain that the messages are coming from a Company's IR team or they can just establish a no-fee account.
Beyond the visibility you can achieve on the site yourself, StockTwits content (including the posts that you make) are distributed / syndicated as a feed into other financial portals including those referenced below (though the list does seem to change as relationships come and go).
We posted the following "Twit" (that's how we differentiate from a "Tweet") on behalf of our legal technology services client, Epiq Systems ($EPIQ) and is visible on Epiq's CNN Money news page (as would anyone else's post...). This feature allows you to get your message in front of a broader audience outside of your normal wire service and Edgar-based communications/disclosures. For that reason, we generally originate messages on StockTwits and then link that account to the Twitter account so that by posting one message you reach both channels.
To Tweet or to Retweet There's a Difference - My colleague Tanya Kamatu taught me another Twitter trick just today that relates to using existing Twitter user "handles" (that's what I call their account name that starts with an "@" sign such as @CatalystIR our firm's Twitter handle) as part of your post. While this is not IR specific, the reach of your comment can be substantially limited if you don't understand how things work on Twitter.
If you post a comment that starts with a Twitter handle, that Tweet will be treated by Twitter as a "retweet" and therefore not seen by the broader Twitter audience but only by those who follow both your account AND the @account that started your Tweet. To combat that limitation, you can place a period before the handle, as in .@Account - and then the comment will be seen broadly. This is only the case when the Twitter handle is the first element of a post, not when it's later in the post. For more information on this topic visit thesocialu101.com
With that, I thank you for your interest and encourage you to get back to your own social media efforts or program evaluation. Catalyst remains bullish on the potential of this medium to support greater IR visibility over time, and we are eager to counsel companies on how to enhance or initiate a social media effort that adds value and mitigates risk.
P.S. Our thanks to Tim Human and the IR Magazine team for publishing our social media tips today. We appreciate the added exposure for some small things that can help IROs learn how to navigate the potential of social media.
The tips are found here: http://www.irmagazine.com/articles/social-media/20887/social-media-tips-catalyst-global/