IR and social media – what happens now?
Soon a year has passed since we undertook a major study of how widespread the use of social media in an IR context was among the listed Swedish companies. Our findings indicated significant interest in social media, but that only a few early adopters had implemented it as part of their IR work. In general, however, there was a wait-and-see attitude.
A year later we can without exaggeration say that the development of social media has continued at a strong pace, if not even at a faster pace than before. But how has it affected the companies’ views on social media from an IR perspective?
The answer that immediately comes to mind is probably not at all. Most of the companies that were active a year ago are still active today, even if one or the other has reduced the level of ambition. New active companies are by and large hard to find. There are of course a number of reasons why it looks like this: among other things, there is still a certain fear of compliance risks of using social media and that it is hard to see any ROI in this area.
We think this is unfortunate. Our conclusions from the study last year apply to a great extent even today. In addition to obtaining the channels where you yourself control the content and activity level, a commitment to social media can among other things contribute to:
• Improved communication with retail investors
• Increased brand awareness
• New investors, both domestic and foreign
• Proactive IR – pursue relevant issues
• Increased efficiency: reduced communication via e-mail and telephony
Although today’s channels might not be optimized for IR communication, it is a way for companies to drive traffic to their IR Web through dialogue with the outside world, thereby increasing awareness and knowledge of the company in general. In addition, an active participation in social media promotes the company’s search engine optimization.
Many see the usage of social media as an extra burden to the organization and it certainly requires commitment and support from both staff and management initially. With the right structure and resources, social media activities will lead to an increased interest from various target groups. This can lead to an increased pressure on the company; however this should not be seen as a burden but rather as an asset.
The level of commitment obviously impacts the organization accordingly. A starting point might be to use existing material, including press releases, quarterly and annual reports. In this case, reusing already-produced material with limited resources and a creative spirit in order to reach a larger audienceone, ROI is positive already from the start.
To get some inspiration you can listen to the webinar “Getting Started with Social Media” held by the Canadian company TMX Equicom on 16 February. It is available via their website http://www.equicomgroup.com/.
Is 2011 the year when IR in social media will take off, what do you think?