Category Archives: Social media for IR

The most thoughtful discussion on social media risk assessment and management

If you want to read only one report on social media and risk, I recommend Accenture’s whitepaper Comprehensive Approach to Managing Social Media Risk Compliance. You can download it here directly from Accenture. You can also watch a few videos from their team discussing the insights.

Their discussion follows exactly the same conversation path at the NYSE boardroom Summit two weeks ago.

The Accenture conversation:

“At issue here is the fact that traditional risk management policies and procedures were not designed for, quite literally, minute-by-minute monitoring of social media chatter to identify brand, strategy, compliance, legal, and market risks.”

ACCENTURE

One key takeaway: neither the NYSE Boardroom Summit nor the Accenture report make any judgments about  “should I stay or should I go now” in regard to social media. Social media is a given now. The point is to have a senior level discussion about risks and policies.

Our recommendation for using social media without RegFD concerns can be found here.

Have a great day.

Board members are under a lot of pressure. Sending “Tweets” is not one of them.

The 11th Annual NYSE Boardroom Summit was an exceptional conference. Hundreds of directors, general counsel and compliance officers from hundreds of public companies’ boards assembled to review the essential issues that drove success in 2014 and what will drive success in 2015.

NYSEBOARD

One point was evident – the board members in attendance have an intense desire to be effective as possible: cyber-security, succession, diversity, culture, activists, crisis preparation, say-on-pay were all on the two-day agenda. The common tread across all these topics was understanding and mitigating risk for company and shareholder alike. You can download the summit handbook here now, courtesy of the NYSE Governance Services team.

One of the most promising sessions (that pertains to this blog) was titled “Social Media and the Changing Landscape of Corporate Disclosure.” Being a noise-maker in the shareholder communications industry, I was looking forward to hearing what boards were doing in regard to social media: 1.) what channels do they use, 2.) what topics do they share, 3.) how they work with the company to assure no material disclosure.

Well, the conference would have none of that. Having directors personally active in outbound social media was never discussed. Not even in the slightest. The dialog was completely focused on the business and risk oversight of the companies’ use of social media. It’s important to emphasize there was not a “should we or shouldn’t we” debate like is still lingering in investor relations. The board was not “against” social media - it’s just not in their sphere of communication responsibilities.

Ironically, these four tweets best summarize the session:

  • Boards’ responsibility is to concentrate on social media risk and policy rather than “tweeting.” #NYSummit
  • Boards to focus on the prevention of the negative rather than the promotion of the positive re: #socialmedia #NYSummit

Have a great day.

Pump-and-dump and revenge porn: twin trolls of different mothers

A recent briefing issued by Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C. highlighted a lawsuit against a social media platform by an individual accusing the platform of being slack in removing a fake profile, built in their name, that was populated with pornographic images. A spiteful ex-lover built the profile: a terrible, manipulative action.

From Gray Reed:

My guess is this case will likely be removed to federal court (both defendants are out of state) and then summarily dismissed… website operators [name] are not liable for the content created by others under the Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

NOTE: The New York Times published an EXCELLENT piece titled Dealing With Digital Cruelty.

Although it pales in comparison (psychological and creepy) –  this mainstream social media lawsuit absolutely reminded me of the recent NanoVircides v Seeking Alpha ruling. NanoVircides asked the court to force Seeking Alpha to disclose the name of an obvious (to most of us in IR) and manipulative stock pumper.

NanoVircides lost, via a core First Amendment Freedom of speech (opinion) position.

PUMPPORN

From the Supreme Court of NYS:

It is paramount in an open and free society that we protect the anonymity of those whose “publication is prompted by the desire to question, challenge and criticize the practices of those in power without incurring adverse consequences.”

So, what does this mean for “Investor Relations and Social Media?”

First, it means that the pump-and-dump “conversations” once only held in the deep and creepy board chats are now front and center on mainstream social media platforms. Before “social media,” the lionshare of chat rooms were populated by pumpers happily gaming each another. It was more like gambling than investing. Today, the elevation of these chats into mainstream portals plops the manipulative pump “stock opinions” directly in front of day-traders. Day-traders, although not proactive pumpers, are opportunistic investors.

Second, it means – to quote Talking Heads – same as it ever was. Equities cannot squelch people from expressing their investment “opinions” in social media. Similarly, restaurants and hotels are facing these legal battles over posts in review portals like Yelp and Trip Advisor.

Third, you need to listen to what is being said a bit more. IR – especially micro to small-cap issuers – should set up profiles and alerts in all the stock opinion portals. Begin to understand who the ethical opinion generators are and who the one-pump-wonders are… like the stock pumper that affected NanoVircides. This may begin to help germinate a relationship or at worst… a crisis response strategy.

Fourth, it’s time to stop ignoring social media. If fact, just call it “media.” Sit down with your PR team and make a plan, proactive and reactive. “Media” is not going away.

True, it was once a common and safe strategy to ignore the bulletin board chats… but the inescapable truth of social media is that it is now mainstream for many investors.

Fifth, start building your IR presence NOW. IR should feed the social media portals’ newsflow with your verified and legal-vetted news releases.  This is a safe and simple action.

CLICK HERE to download our whitepaper on how to start building your presence.

NIRI 2014: social media whitepaper (and happy faces part 1)

The National Investor Relations Institute’s 2014 Conference in Las Vegas was a big win for everyone. Sincere thanks to the NIRI organization for hosting yet another successful event. This annual event is one of the few conferences where IR practitioners and service providers meet not just to “buy and sell,” but to have real discussion about the industry and its drivers.

One of the more popular (and appreciated) conversation in our booth was regarding our very practical advice for social media. We ran out of printed copies of current whitepaper that gives guidance for risk-free and hands-free social media for IR: you can download it here.

A few IROs even referenced the social media blog article from last March. That was very complimentary.

Visiting our booth isn’t just about shareholder communications. We squeezed in a little fun too!

n2 n4 n7 n32 n31 n30 n29 n26 n23 n14 n12 n10

Viva Las NIRI14 ! ( …and get ready to win your fabulous NIRI Conference souvenir)

The rebranding and redefining of Vintage is good news for public companies – especially for those looking for ( what we are calling ) intelligent value.

We’ve witnessed true growth of the cross-pollination between the shareholder communications and regulatory compliance functions within our clientbase. Sometimes this overlap is workflow-based, other times it’s been pure “purchasing power.” Regardless of their reasoning, clients have expressed satisfaction receiving an intelligent value.

Enough of that – let’s plan for the 2014 NIRI Annual Conference! Yay! 

NIRIsignWe’ll be meeting with clients and prospects to discuss…

  • …the new attributes and examples of our investor relations websites: click here to read of one example of what is new. Also, recently, our web developers have built some BEAUTIFUL custom sites. ( You’ll want to see those ) Plus, we’ve integrated our IR Room MST with The IRapp, the leader in…um… apps for IR. 
  • …IR & social media and our no-touch, no-risk approach to getting your news in the social news stream.
  • …news distribution and disclosure which is always a favorite topic! We have a staff of newswire experts in the booth who will answer your questions about distribution, tracking and maximizing value.
  • And of course, we want to hear about how your IR group interacts with your regulatory compliance group. Do you collaborate? How? When?

MOST IMPORTANTLY! 

Look for your purple pin in your NIRI Conference showbag. Wear it on your bag or lanyard and visit our booth #309. If your unique number (see the yellow arrow in the picture above) matches a number on our winners’ board you’ll win one of our 100 Fabulous VIVA LAS NIRI14 sweatshirts! ( Oh, don’t worry, the sweatshirts are NOT purple )

Have a great day and I will see you in Fabulous Las NIRI14! I mean Las Vegas! 

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.