When we look at investor relations strategies, it seems reasonable to argue that companies need to be visible where investors are. And huge percentage of the population and thus investors use social media – a 2016 study by Greenwich Associates revealed that 80% of institutional investors used social media as part of their workflow and 30% said that their investment decisions were influenced by information on social media platforms. These proportions have for sure risen in recent years with the increased use of social media. It is likely that for retail investors in the US use of social media in the investment process is probably close to 100%.
What makes this issue complicated (and thus interesting) is that Investors are only a small part of the audience on Social Media – with the general public, employees, customers, regulators etc. also there, and far more relevant from a numbers perspective. Thus (unlike in the past) it is not that easy to segregate your message between investors and the rest of the public. What goes to one group, potentially goes to them all.
Hence while we argue it is fundamental that IR departments should use Social Media (selectively), they need to coordinate with External Communication on what is and is not published, and the impact of the message on all different audiences needs to be factored in. This is especially true in Mexico where the political and social environment is highly complex, and showing off high levels of profitability or job lay-offs can be a PR disaster when the country is in deep recession, and the President anti-business.
Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are the most important social media channels for investor relations strategies, and Instagram could become more influential. Blog sites, such as Medium, can also be relevant if CEOs like to pontificate on the big issues of the day. Financial portals (Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, Robin Hood, investing.com. etc) which aggregate information form newswires are relevant for US retail investors (but generally not for institutional investors).
Post recently published IR communications to increase the audience, and inform the broad public on key events such as your corporate earnings.
Working with external communication, use for interim posts between official press releases. Topics could include:
- Comments on recent progress/achievements e.g. for an ESG program.
- To promote internal matters such as how the Company is championing diversity and inclusion.
- Company blog/thought leadership.
- A response to local/global current affairs.
E.g. Coca-Cola has recently posted in support of #BlackLivesMatter and World Oceans Day.
E.g. GSK has recently posted in support of Pride Month and the Gavi Conference.
DON’T just jump on the band wagon. DO tell the world when you have actually done something. E.g. Nike posting about the importance of diversity, but then people looking up the Executive Board and the Board of Directors, seeing primarily white faces and posting about that.
LinkedIn has a wide variety of content formats that can be used successfully. For example, include photos/video/reports/audio content/links.
You may want to consider posting a video with the CEO/Directors so that investors feel that they have some face time with management.
When posting videos consider using subtitles so that videos can be played on mute, the default on LinkedIn as you scroll.
Bear in mind that LinkedIn is often used on a computer.
Try to include relevant pictures or links in every post, as this will attract more attention as you scroll.
Designate an alloted day of the week to post about specific content aside from other content. E.g. Spotlight Monday, Update Tuesday, etc.
To provide time relevant, bite-sized updates. This should include both punchy text with links to Eventos Relevantes such as earnings press releases as well as succinct interim updates.
Content should be shorter than on LinkedIn – in bite-sized chunks that readers can digest quickly on their smartphones.
Images and videos can be used but text is used primarily.
Bear in mind that Twitter is mainly used on smartphones.
The use of insights can help the company understand which type of posts are most relevant to its audience.
Private groups and communities.
More relevant for retail investor relations, less so for institutional investors (and therefore less relevant in Mexico than other countries such as the US).
Interim posts between official communications.
We doubt IR will use much, but should be aware of and always coordinate with External Communication.
Instagram recently added its first native editorial format, giving it the potential to realise its place as the ‘digital magazine’.
Images that are aligned with the company’s presence. E.g. same font as on company publications, same colorways, etc.
Include the company’s logo in the image as a watermark, and as a potential source of publicity if it is to be reposted.
- Take advantage of social media – it’s free! Links to your press releases should be posted on Twitter and LinkedIn as a general rule from the corporate or IR account.
- Post relevant content at least once or twice a month on each applicable channel.
- Have a policy in place to reply to comments/questions.
- Have a policy in place for employees (including for employees and executives leaving the company).
- Consider using a dedicated IR handle if the company is very active on social media for marketing purposes.
- Assume all communication lands in the hands of the government, the public, the competition and do not write anything you are not happy them all seeing.