A new social network targeted at investors and companies launched in beta this week
The principal challenge to social media adoption in the investor relations community isn’t what you think.
In addition to the usual concerns about regulatory compliance, internal costs and content development, the primary challenge appears to be one of relevancy.
There are few social media products that speak to the specific needs of IROs. While a few have come to market, like StockTwits and Seeking Alpha, there certainly appears to be room for more.
The latest company to enter the fray is Stockr, a social network for finance professionals which allows users to make friends, send messages and take part in discussions, like on Faceboook.
A key element is that users must go by their real names, a measure in place to cut out spam and promote an orderly environment.
The network, which launched a beta version this week, plans to include tools that help IROs to build interest among potential shareholders.
Founded by former sell-side analyst Vinny Jindal, it seeks to be a sector leader in investment research and decision-making.
Like StockTwits, the focus is on the delivery of actionable information through a robust online community.
‘People want to organize and communicate online – share valuable insights and perspectives and form real bonds,’ Jindal says.
Fundamental to the way Stockr will work is its use of real identities. Since people will be using the platform without aliases – in a manner similar to Facebook – Jindal expects several ‘filters’ to prevent the mayhem one often encounters on the message boards.
The fact that users will be choosing their own relationships – again, as they do on Facebook – offers more encouragement not to stray from accepted social norms.
On Stockr, users will be able to set up their own watch lists, use RSS feeds to aggregate new stories on certain companies and pull information from their IR pages. This combined view not only makes tracking easier, but it provides a starting point for communication with other users.
The IR opportunity
A large collection of investors interested in learning more about stocks would be a fertile ground for an IRO interested in actively engaging existing and prospective investors.
‘Social media allows a small group of people to dialogue with a large group of people,’ Jindal says.
The confluence of brand and investment potential is of particular interest to Jindal. ‘If you’re an IR pro who’s recognized the potency of the connection between the investor and the consumer, you can use Stockr to engage your investors in ways you can’t today,’ he says.
‘People are attracted to companies not just because of the financial metrics but because of what the company represents,’ Jindal adds.
In an era where Facebook can hit an implied valuation of up to $96 bn before going public, it isn’t hard to see his point.
The strength of a company’s brand will help the IRO using Stockr to accumulate followers and begin to converse with existing and prospective investors in an environment that’s much easier to navigate than traditional financial message boards.
If the IR sector’s use of social media follows in the footsteps of the marketing community, however, organic follower accumulation may not be sufficient. After all, it takes time to find and engage people on any social platform – building a social footprint takes time.
Stockr has accounted for this and is planning tools that will accelerate the process. The company is going to launch an advertising model, described by Jindal as ‘Google AdSense for investor relations’.
Through the use of targeted ads on Stockr – based on end-user demographic information – IROs will be able to put their companies in front of investors who might not have thought to follow them otherwise. Key demographics include a user’s interest by industry, company market cap and trading volume.
What comes next?
While some IROs have been active on social media platforms – both personally and professionally – these tools are still not in the profession’s mainstream.
Stockr is entering the market at the right time – a time in which more options are needed. The financial social media space may still be in its infancy, but it’s heading in the right direction.