Although reports from a 2009 Q4 study found that 55% of companies rely on Twitter for reaching their shareholders, Dell has taken a different approach for applying social media to investor relations. The computer giant is considered to be the first company to use an investor relations blog, DellShares, to communicate financial information.
Rob Williams, director of investor relations for Dell, gives his reasoning for IR blogging in a 2008 article, “Welcome to the Jungle.” Williams points out that Dell is talked about in more than 1,000 blog posts each day. He decided that their IR team should join and contribute to the online conversation. Not only do Dell’s investors read DellShares, but other companies and IR teams read it, eager to learn about this new phenomenon of financial blogging. Williams states that two members of the IR team have been authorized to update DellShares at least once a week. This authorization helps Dell bypass the legal scrutiny of online financial disclosure.
In another article by Q4, Williams offers some tips for companies to think about before launching an IR blog:
1. An IR blog is not a replacement for communicating information through traditional means. A company should not overlook the importance of news releases and SEC reports as a way of disclosing financial information.
2. The blog must provide readers with factual information. Controversy should be left out of financial disclosure. A company should not offer its opinion and attitude toward financial issues. This helps build credibility for the blog and the company.
3. A company should not use the IR blog to market and promote its products and/or services. It is an “investor relations” blog and thus, should be treated as such. It is solely a means of communicating financial information.
4. While the blog is primarily used for investor communications, it also serves a listening purpose. The IR team should also listen to its investors and shareholders reading the blog and see what they have to say about its content and your company.