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Jan 13, 2014

Social media: how do we maximize our success?

Advice on making successful social media posts, in the second of this two-part guest post

Social media is a ‘force multiplier’ for the visibility of the IR communications and collateral you work so hard to create. Most of it has been disclosed on the wire or via EDGAR and is available on your website or those of other organizations, making it easy to provide direct links. Thus, much of a basic program can merely involve providing links to IR collateral.

IR social media content can include:

  • News releases, call transcripts & SEC filings
  • Presentation and conference call alerts
  • Presentations, webcasts & videos
  • Media coverage, interviews, blog posts & social media
  • Product brochures, photos & web pages
  • Research and other industry or governmental reports or white papers
  • A range of custom content we’ll save for another article.

Links to this content on their own, however, have little visibility or value (though we see them all the time) without a clear introduction. Unlike financial portals where content is safely ordered (and hidden) based on stock symbols, social media is an unstructured fire hose of information.

That data glut is rationalized by key words or ‘hash tags’ and stock symbols. In addition, ‘Follower’ and ‘Followed’ functions allow users to filter the torrent down to subjects of interest.

Each post must make clear what content is being referenced and why it is worth viewing. Assume it is the reader’s first interaction with your company. Keys to successful posts include:

  1. Write clearly and succinctly, to be understandable to anyone. It takes time to winnow a message into 140 characters; abbreviations and informal style make this possible.
  2. Use appropriate stock symbol nomenclature (generally a $ before the symbol as in $GOOG) so that all your posts are referenced to your symbol. Credible use of other relevant stock symbols will also aid your post’s discovery.
  3. Use hash tags on Twitter to reference your post to topics of interest searched by investors, such as #healthcare, #energy, #Japan, #timber and #retail. Use the most popular hash tags but also experiment to reach a different audience: hash tags position you for discovery by those who do not know your company or stock symbol. This is our primary reason for IR social media engagement.
  4. Link your accounts so that a post to one will automatically syndicate to others. But read the fine print to optimize your visibility by originating posts on certain sites and syndicating them to others. Be careful: some sites let you delete posts, others do not.
  5. Twitter averages 500 mn tweets per day across all topics, so even after a few days, a search might not yield your post. To unbury your post, delete and repost it (our recommendation), alter or add a photo or video and repost, or retweet, comment or favorite it.

We hope our comments have taken some of the mystery out of social media for IR and provided some valid reasons to reconsider your views.

Click here to read part one of this post.

David Collins is founder and managing director at Catalyst Global, the New York-based IR firm.