Category Archives: Social media for IR

Context helps online engagement flourish (example: RetailInvestorConferences.com)

Following up on last month’s post placing “IR engagement” in an uncomfortable juxtaposition with social media (read here), we have an example of engagement in a positive light. What’s key to note is that the technology used is, well… pretty darn social. The difference is the engagement’s context sets an appropriate expectation for dialogue.

On April 3, we held our 37th event at RetailInvestorConferences.com. These events are virtual investor presentations– CEOs and other executives webcasting to hundreds of current and potential investors. These conferences are not one-way CEO monologues. They are open dialogues. In fact, our presenting companies tell us again and again that the two-way engagement is the favorite aspect.

Two opportunities to engage:

1.) During the live, formal (slide) presentation, individual and institutional investors - at par - text in questions, live in real-time.  As you’ll read below, these are not softballs.

RIC_Qs

The CEO worked his way through the whole list. Details fuzzed for privacy. Click to enlarge the image.

2.) Post presentation, everyone is automatically transferred into the presenting company’s “virtual trade booth” where the Q&A session continues in a social media chat mode. 100% open and un-squelched. That’s about as social as you can get. Kudos to our transparent and “social” CEOs.

This is the live chat dialogue - still open to read in the company's booth... no need to fuzz here!

This is the live chat dialogue – still open to read in the company’s booth… no need to fuzz here! Click the image to read. 

Why is this mode of social media engagement successful for the issuer and investor alike?  It’s the context of the event itself:

  • The CEOs and senior teams have set aside the time expressly to have a dialogue with investors. As we know (read here), bandwidth is a concern of IR in regards to “ad hoc” social media. The investors (audience members) know their question will be seen and answered.
  • The booth discussion is generally in context to the preceding presentation. That focuses everyone to stay on point. No slip-of-the-selective-disclosure tongue.
  • It’s a committed audience. An audience member must take the brief effort to log-in to attend the event. From a Marketing POV, that action qualifies the person which generally affirms their engagement and interest. The issuers get hard, educated questions.

Proudly, last week’s event was one of our best – all focused on MLPs. The audience was a blend of retail and professional investors from:

Alhambra Investment Partners, LLC  |  Alliance Financial Group, Inc.  |  Allstate Financial  |  Antonio Financial Group  |  ARK Investment Management  |  AXA Advisors  |  Axiom Capital  |  Berkshire Capital  |  Bryan Advisory Services LLC  |  Commerce Family Office  |  Credit Capital Investments, LLC  |  Cypress Wealth Management, LLC  |  Deutsche Bank  |  Emerald Bay Wealth Management  |  Fidelity Investments  |  First Dallas Securities  |  Georgina Asset Management  |  Gratia Capital  |  Great Valley Capital Advisors  |  Infrastructure Capital Management, LLC  |  Jones-Richards Capital, LLC  |  Merrill Lynch  |  Millennium Capital   |  Montage Investments  |  Mutual of Omaha Investor Services  |  Needham & Company  |  Oppenheimer & Co.  |  PHS Investment Capital  |  Rosenthal Advisors  |  Schneider Investments  |  Sofia Capital Management  |  Steiner & Ellis, PLLC  |  Tamarin Financial  |  Tandem Wealth Management  |  The Public Register  |  Tiger Veda Management LLC  |  United Capital Financial Advisers  |  Wallach Planning & Investments  |  Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC  |  Woodberry Capital  |  SilverArc Capital  |  SMB Financial Services  |  Vestra Financial  |  Waterfront Capital, Inc.

Engagement is essential to investor relations:  set and meet expectations for dialogue in any media.

Have a great day.

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IR should not “engage” in social media

It’s been a full year since the SEC released new Regulation Fair Disclosure guidance in regard to social media. Oversimplified, on April 3, 2013, the SEC stated that social media distribution is at legal disclosure par with the other distribution methods.

picard

 

Needless to say, the new guidance has not created a watershed, transformational or disruptive event. The year has given us a few examples, both pro and con, of investor relations departments branching out in social media. That’s very good, because social media is how millions of people work and play online. Undeniable.

And that brings us back to the title of this blog: IR should not “engage” in social media. Obviously, the key word to focus on is engage. Its a great word for marketing, an excellent word for sales – but it is an unrealistic social media word for investor relations. It indicates interaction and dialog. As this survey shows, unrealistic.

IR should broadcast in social media. Get your news into the stream broadly and non-selectively. Especially StockTwits and Twitter. You don’t need to participate in any conversations, but you certainly should enable conversations amongst the Cashtaggers - the hipster name for investors who discuss stocks in StockTwits and Twitter. Let the Cashtaggers engage about your company.

Also, stop looking for IR social media ROI. IR won’t find any that fits into the current investor relations success metrics. Another suggestion is don’t expect to find your targeted institutional investors or analysts in the stream. Privacy and intellectual (trade) property is their DNA. Institutional investors and portfolio managers don’t file their SEC 13-Fs until the last possible moment… they sure as heck are not going to tweet “I’m long on $XYZ.” (BTW, the Carl Icahn “single tweet” example is a predatory marketing example, not a capital markets example)

End game: What is IR to do?

  • Automate your press releases to distribute into StockTwits and Twitter. This automation mitigates RegFD risk.
  • Always use your cashtag in your posts.
  • Ask your PR team to use your cashtag in their posts.
  • Unless you have important market moving news, don’t fill your brain with monitoring your cashtag. It will be meaningless and will make you dislike social media even more. Mostly, you’ll see quick bits from day traders.
  • Don’t pepper your social media with personal quips or interesting articles. Social media is an SEC recognized disclosure channel and anything your post will be dissected by the SEC and predatory investors looking for hints. Set the precedent with investors “this is all news.”
Click image to get our "How to" IR & social media whitepaper

Click image to get our “How to” IR & social media whitepaper

That last point is a little gray, especially for small and microcaps. Social media could be used strategically as an important channel to Cashtaggers / day-traders, an important source of liquidity. Small and microcaps often fill the role of being their own “sell-side analysts,” but be wary – exactly as Yahoo Chat boards, these folks are not your friends, have zero interest in a relationship and are going to sell you at the first winning opportunity.

Social media is a mature media. By now, we all know what and where it excels and falters: that knowledge removes the risk. It is neither IR’s Holy Grail nor Black Plague: it is a distribution channel… a viable tile in the shareholder communications mosaic.

IR should broadcast in social media. Get your news into the stream broadly and non-selectively.

Have a great day.

Investor Relations! Social Media! Beyonce’!

beyoncNice round of public relations ABOUT public relations last week surrounding the new album launch by Beyonce’. (do we even call them “albums” anymore?)

The first round of pundit discussion was how she side-stepped the music industry’s traditional marketing engines and self-released her 14 new songs and 17 new videos. No media tours or pre-emptive marketing work ie: Entertainment Tonight exclusive premiere. No artist in the music industry has ever released an entire album in this manner. Did it work? 828,773 downloads in one week, a new record for iTunes sales. 

Ta-da! Simultaneous!

To repeat, there was no pre-emptive outreach. What she did use was the online simultaneous channels of social media and… a press release.

Why was a tried-and-true press release in her communications mosaic?

PR Newswire’s Shannon Ramlochan explains:

“Journalists and fans alike could not rely on speculation from the internet as a credible source. However, the press release was able to definitively answer burning questions such as why Beyoncé chose a groundbreaking visual approach to her album and explains how her team was able to accomplish such an extraordinary feat in the public eye.”

To repeat, Beyonce’ did not tell any media that she was releasing an album. There was no selective disclosure  (now you see where this is going…) She timed her 1.) “new school” communications of social media along with her 2.) brand (corporate) website and 3.) with an “old school” press release. The press release both cemented the material facts and made sure all news channels were reached simultaneously. (boy, that sounds familiar) Obviously, she was not concerned about RegFD: she did require simultaneous fair disclose as the album’s ninja-like “Ta-da” launch – an essential element of the album’s release. It was an earnings surprise that exceed analysts expectations.

I don’t need to convince Investor Relations on the value of a press release:

  • Broad, non-exclusive distribution
  • Verified, time-stamped content
  • Uneditable, undelete-able disclosure
  • Easy-to-execute

What Beyonce demonstrated is an excellent use of the stakeholders communications mosaic and the importance of a balanced strategy even if you’re a megacap Fly Girl.

What can IR do?

Reverse her model. Ease social media SAFELY into your mosaic. Bring a full-channel communications balance to your newsflow. Click here to download the whitepaper titled “How-to Automatically and Hands-free Send News Over Social Media.”  This whitepaper has a tactical map that mitigates RegFD risk for Twitter and StockTwits.

Oh. Take a wild guess which newswire gave Beyonce’ the bootylious new reach she needed to break the new sales record?

Have a great day.

Twitter’s recent upgrade is useful for investor relations’ lurking

Yesterday, Twitter announced a product upgrade called custom timelines. It’s an extremely useful tool to filter and sort tweets that are (perhaps) germane to your company and to your day.

It’s your free and easy “listening portal.”

For those of us already using TweetDeck, it’s not exactly brand new – we discussed this prior here.

The beauty of TweetDeck is you can set up columns that will follow a particular, filtered name or topic. Obviously you would set up a column with your cashtag ($TICK) as well as separate columns with just your ticker (TICK) and your company’s full name. I would also suggest you set up columns with a couple of your peers’ and competitors’ cashtags.  

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

From our IR benchmarking study Q#1, we know that Twitter and StockTwits are not active outbound shareholder communications for IR. But for inbound news and and sentiment, TweetDeck is excellent. Beyond your cashtag, you can create columns for anything business AND personal: ie @NIRI, #NEPatriots, @TheDailyShow and your high school teenager’s @Par-tayBoy666 Twitter account.

If you are looking for a risk and hands-free “jump-start” to using Twitter and StockTwits to get your press releases into their streams, I suggest you download and read this whitepaper. 

Have a great day

Pump-n-dump stock promoters won’t “like” Mary Jo White looking deeper into social media

Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

SEC Chairman Mary Jo White was the keynote at the Practising Law Institute 45th Annual Institute on Securities Regulation this week.

As with any keynote, she touched on many broad topics: Enforcement, International Affairs, Investor Education, Corporation Finance, Examinations, Municipal Underwriting and such.

Under the Corporation Finance topic, she spoke on social media. The SEC is watching social media – but not just for selective disclosure. They are sniffing out potential opportunities for fraud… a STRONG reoccurring theme with the White administration.

From Chairman White:

“As an example, in recent years, a number of technology companies have relied on unique financial or operational metrics to illustrate the size and growth of their businesses.

These metrics track numbers important to the company that often reflect their very fast pace of growth – like the number of users of the service, the number of players of an online game, or the number people who quote “liked” the company or something the company does.  And these metrics usually total in the millions.

Our staff’s concern has been the impact on investors of the sheer magnitude of some of these metrics – investors for whom the true meaning of the metric (or more importantly the link from metric to income and eventual profitability) may not be clear or even identified. In the absence of a clear description, it can be hard not to think that these big numbers will inevitably translate into big profits for the company.  But the connection may not necessarily be there.”

Certainly, this is the stuff of pump-n-dump stock promoters. Here is how it works in Facebook:

  1. A page is created. You may have seen these pages – “name a state with the letter E in it” or other such games. 
  2. This page is pushed out publicly with a call to action to click, share or comment. 
  3. These posts are initially shared by a big group of people all in the same network who have all built up their network over a period of time. 
  4. These people share, like or comment which then spreads. 
  5. Eventually a friend of yours hits that little thumbs up button. 
  6. It’s in your newsfeed. 
  7. Rinse and repeat. 

And within 3 days a post can have 70,000 likes, and someone somewhere is about to make a nice little profit by selling the page – with all its built “pre-likes.” A pump-n-dump stock promoter merely edits some of the page details and ta-da… Amalgamated Fauxpharma Corp. has 50,000 people “liking” them. Must be a great company… poised to grow!

fb

Note: Facebook has taken some great strides to curb this behavior – including locking down the title of a page, but as you see in the image above,  selling Facebook pages is still a business.

There are safe paths for social media. This white paper offers one in detail.

Have a great day. 

Investor relations benchmark 1: Do you “tweet?”

This first question of this new infographic series came from a client discussion. The client was more than a little frustrated at the barrage and band wagoning surrounding social media and IR.

We spoke about the report NIRI issued in June, however more granularity was requested – specifically as the conversation initiated from our Twitter and StockTwits “how-to” whitepaper.

They wanted peer stats on the direct use of Twitter and StockTwits from within investor relations departments. Not the corporation’s use, not the brand’s, etc. Just the IR department organically.

If you complete the study’s math, under 8% of IR departments tweet themselves organically. The verbatim comments are very to-the-point.

IRB1_-Is-your-Investor-Relations-department-tweeting

Our view? Shareholder communications is a mosaic. Targeting your message and energies (aka marketing) is important. Twitter and (especially) StockTwits have a bazillion investors reading the streams ~ getting your news into those streams in a risk and burden-free manner would be good communications.

That’s the advice in our Twitter and StockTwits “how-to” whitepaper.

Have a great day.

Facebook’s content ranking algorithm and IR

social_media_donut-590x590While the PR world has been in deep discussion about Google’s recent search algorithms changes, the marketing world have been working to understand Facebook’s content ranking algorithm ~ and how their August update controls what Facebook members see in their news feed.

The company canvassed thousands of its members to define which content is shown how and when. There are 100,000 influences can affect what a member reads. Facebook’s drive is to deliver relevant CUSTOM content to each individual member. Marketers are working to understand this proactively. Much of the algorithm’s emphasis is based on corporate pages and commercial content.

Why this matters to investor relations: 

Companies that have Facebook outreach as a proactive marketing-based media need to make sure their promotional firms are aware of the changes. The bottom-line is that bad content will do badly.

The other point IR needs to be aware of is regarding “material disclosure.” Just because you post something is Facebook does not mean it will post how and when you think it will. Certainly, no one is using Facebook alone for material disclosure. Part of the shareholder communications mosaic.

Have a great day.

PS:  PR Newswire is an NYSE subsidy provider too. We also know that switching a former-Thomson IR site is easy. 

Two reports offer a comprehensive view on Main Street investors

Blog karma. Yesterday’s posting of the Shareholder Confidence 365 Study result on annual reports flows perfectly into the new ProxyPulse report from Broadridge and PwC. The ProxyPulse report is a very worthwhile read.  

As an obvious companion report, I biasly recommend our Fall 2013 How Investors Consume Your IR Content report (download link on the right). Together, these two reports offer the most comprehensive view on Main Street.

From the Broadridge and PwC report, I especially like that they are challenging the Board of Directors to think (and ask questions) about retail. From ProxyPulse:

10 QUESTIONS DIRECTORS SHOULD ASK:

  1. What is the institutional and retail mix of our company’s share ownership?
  2. Do we fully understand the impact of retail voting at our company?
  3. How does our company’s size and mix of institutional and retail ownership impact the voting participation of our shareholders?
  4. Does the company have a communication program that allows for adequate engagement with all shareholders?
  5. How does our company’s shareholder support compare to that of our peers?
  6. Does the company anticipate a close shareholder vote on a sensitive issue?
  7. Are there situations where additional outreach to retail shareholders might make the difference on a close or sensitive voting issue?
  8. Do we understand the concerns of significant shareholders who may decide to vote against one or more of our directors, and/or pay plan, and what have we done to engage them?
  9. Have we done sufficient cost/benefit analysis of our distribution method(s) for proxy materials and its effect on voting participation?
  10. Have we had sufficient discussions around potential changes to how the company distributes proxy material?

IRROOMBLOGART

The value of retail (individual) investors varies from company to company. Beyond standard corporate transparency, how Main Street is courted is up to the issuer. The IR department creates their communications strategy that follows that value – and just like a marketing function, you focus where the money is.

Our job is to help our clients reach individual investors as efficiently as possible. An obvious example is RetailInvestorConferences.com – where 17,000 investors have opt-ed in to listen to company presentations month after month.

A less obvious example (but timely in juxtaposition to the NYSE “no more Thomson subsidy to Nasdaq” announcement) is our IR Room MST investor relations website service. We’ve added new functions that are intuitively proactive toward individual investor communications.

  • Includes a mobile app for fast, simplified access to your IR content. Safe to assume mobile is very important to retail’s research as institutions will still weigh heavy on their Bloomberg-esque portals
  • Includes a risk and hands-free solution to post your news releases into the StockTwits and Twitter streams – two networks ripe with individual investors and traders. This brief explains this newsflow.

Retail may not move your needle, but they are an outspoken group. Understanding what they want and what the do is key. Check out the reports.

Have a great day.

Investor Relations already beat Amazon to the multi-tweet PR punch

A bit of buzz about Amazon’s 14-tweet news announcement on Wednesday. Marketing-wise, it was a clean and targeted campaign: the issuing of a press release of bullet points followed up by the retweeting of those points. The #1 rule of content marketing is maximizing your content across as many channels as appropriate.

Investor relations departments have been using this same strategy for earnings announcements for several quarters now. Below is a StockTwits page of FedEx’s most recent earnings tweets. (click the image to enlarge it)

fedex

This example of using Twitter and StockTwits for shareholder communications is actually a much better use of the real-time value of the social media audience. The Amazon press release and subsequent tweets were (according to my timestamps) sent at 12:05 – 1:07 AM EST so it was not meant to be a real-time (workday) campaign. Earnings announcments are real-time, market moving events.

The FedEx example above is also an excellent study of using StockTwits and Twitter for investor relations; much in line with this whitepaper.

  • Don’t have dialogue: have “newsflow”
  • Don’t imply selective disclose by pick-and-choosing followers
  • Do use your $CASHTAG
  • Do use both StockTwits and Twitter

Again: The #1 rule of content marketing (and that is what shareholder communications is) is maximizing your content across as many channels as appropriate.

Have a great day.

The push for push it

Ooh babybaby. Babybaby. Ohh babybaby. Bababababy.

For obvious reason, active traders and investors love to be up-to-the-second on their holdings. That’s what mobile does best for investor relations content. It pushes instant IR alerts to stakeholders that want IR alerts wherever they happen to be. Interuptive alerts. 

Coincidently with the TheIRapp news (blogged here today) StockTwits just announced a major upgrade to their mobile app for Android and iPhone for their 300,000 registered members.

photo333

Chief amongst the upgrades is alerting.

StockTwits’ members can set very detailed alert criteria for both individual companies ($LIKEYOURS) as well as on experts that frequently discuss your company or sector. To be redundant: It pushes instant IR alerts to stakeholders that want IR alerts wherever they happen to be.

If you are still unclear on the difference between StockTwits and Twitter, I suggest you download this whitepaper here.

The whitepaper also suggests how you can send your news – with RegFD confidence – over StockTwits and Twitter… and onto many key financial portals’ social media feeds at once.

So what does this mean in regard to PR Newswire helping our investor relations clients?

Our investor relations product, IR Room MST, automatically sends your news to StockTwits members. As prior, as a niche, we’re past the discussion phase “is mobile important for IR.” Now we’re in the “how effortlessly and affordable can I get it” phase. That’s why we rolled it into IR Room MST. Easy to implement. 

For additional IR Room MST details, click here.

Have a great day.