The IR Society provides readers with some valuable pointers for creating and maintaining an investor relations presence online. Below are the key elements highlighted in this post that must be addressed in a company’s IR online strategy.
- Share what the company is about, its story, and its history by creating an “About” page on the corporate site.
- Provide investors with easily accessible, updated, and accurate financial data.
- Make sure to update site visitors on recent news and developments within the company and the company’s industry.
- Allow readers to learn about the company’s strategy and mission statement concerning investments.
- Provide a current analysis of current shareholder data.
- Give bond investors and credit analysts access to current credit and debt standings.
- Provide shareholders with information in regards to corporate governance and how IR is managed in the company.
- Site visitors should be able to read a company’s corporate responsibility policies and enforcement.
- Companies should incorporate some new technology onto their web site.
- Give readers the option to express any comments or concerns in regards to feedback for the company.
Social media strategist, Aliza Sherman, gives investors four notable steps to take for achieving financial social media success in this article from IR Alert.
1. Monitor what is being said about the company online, especially on social media sites and blogs.
2. Enhance the company’s online presence by adding video, press releases, quarterly earnings, reports, and presentations.
3. Use social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to push out company information to key publics and drive traffic to the IR web site.
4. Measure and keep track of the company’s online efforts and whether or not they were successful.
Dominic Jones, creator of IR Web Report, recommends here that company IR teams should start using current social media sites that have been created to only target financial analysts and investors. The two most popular of these microblogging and monitoring services are StockTwits and Seeking Alpha.
In this webinar from Darrell Heaps and Q4 Web Systems, 47% of investors look online to monitor a company’s presence on social media sites and financial blogs. Investors and shareholders use these sites to research what is being said about the company and to acquire potential ideas for investments.
In another post from the IR Web Report (see here), recent statistics prove Seeking Alpha as an extensive and influential site frequented by financial professionals. The article discloses that Seeking Alpha has 2.8 million site visitors each month, with more than half providing substantial financial information to other readers. It also reports that top management, executives and senior professionals use Seeking Alpha more than any other financial web site for information, networking, and research in regards to IR.
In addition to Seeking Alpha, there is another social media site that is rapidly rising in popularity amongst financial professionals. IR Web Report highlights here the development of StockTwits. This site is similar to Seeking Alpha as it encourages companies and investors to engage through an online community setting. StockTwits allows its users, which mostly consists of IR departments and financial professionals, to post their most valuable and important information at the top of their pages to guarantee that it does not get buried in the stream of other posts/tweets. Companies like Ford Motor Company, CME Group, and Hewlett-Packard Company, currently rely on StockTwits to instantly update their investors on new and important financial information.
These investor relations sites give companies and investors more control over financial disclosure while also creating a stronger channel for financial communication.
Cisco Systems is an ideal model for companies to follow when getting started on the implementation of social media and financial disclosure. Corporate Responsibility Magazine reported Cisco as #6 on the 100 Best Corporate Citizens List 2009, highlighting corporate transparency as one of the most significant deciding factors. The magazine article points out that despite over the 400 companies that have been featured on the list over the past ten years, only three have made it each and every year since the list’s creation – Intel, Starbucks, and Cisco!
According to Sharon Merrill Associates, Cisco’s communication with shareholders thrives online. The company posts financial information on their IR Web site, as well as through social media tools such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and their corporate blog, The Platform. Cisco relies heavily on social media as a strategy to reinforce and simplify existing company messages. The company’s extreme online visibility allows shareholders and other constituencies to communicate directly to the Cisco IR team through a variety of social media channels.
Here is an image example provided by Q4 Web Systems that shows how Cisco uses Twitter to communicate to investors. This particular tweet features a link to a video of the CEO and CFO discussing the company’s finances and quarterly earnings.
Here is an example of how Cisco successfully utilizes their Facebook page. The company creates corporate and industry events on Facebook, like their 2009 Financial Analyst Conference. With these Facebook applications, Cisco can invite others to attend or at least to update interested constituencies about the details and successes of the event.