The changing face of financial reporting on social media

Jul 01, 2020
LinkedIn becoming first choice for results-related content, finds annual study

The annual performance ranking of financial results reporting on social media channels by FTSE 100 companies, published by advisory firm FTI Consulting and based on an assessment of volume, quality and impact over 12 months, shows that corporate audiences are more engaged than ever when it comes to content.

Gone are the days of posting the main half-year or full-year financial numbers alongside a few carefully chosen words from the CEO. The most successful companies from a social media perspective are carefully developing long-term communications themes, have a better understanding of their key audiences and are providing a large bench of spokespeople to illustrate key points.

GSK’s long-term commitment to its corporate social media channels and the strong following its channels have built over the years – more than 2.1 mn followers across the four audited platforms of Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube – have allowed the company to surpass other FTSE 100 constituents, achieving our top spot, while elsewhere in our top 10 the extractives sector and financial services category dominate.

We put to bed any notion that a business requires a large following to achieve impact, even when relying on organic content only. Paid media appears to be deployed more strategically around key corporate moments, notably on LinkedIn where companies find it easier to target professional and financial audiences. In fact, LinkedIn has stepped into view as the predominant choice for results-related content overall, with engagements increasing by 46 percent across the year, compared with just 1 percent for Twitter in the same period.

Alongside investment in new and creative ways of sharing company updates, including video and animation, many of the companies we looked at are boosting the engagement levels around results content with social media advertising. It is not unusual now to see paid-for content relating to results, sometimes even from CEOs looking to generate awareness of company strategy.

But there are challenges ahead for growing in-house social media teams. We detected a rise in anti-corporate sentiment, which has the potential to undo positive sentiment and engagement. Notable themes were around sustainability and governance, catching some corporates on the hop, especially in relation to some of the biggest social injustice and environmental campaigns of the year.

In this less-favorable online environment, we believe that in the coming years a new ‘divide’ will emerge between companies that are resilient, authentic and responsive, and those that are operating solely in ‘broadcast mode’.

This year, in addition to full 2019 data, the Social Divide report contains insights on the first five months of 2020, spotlighting how FTSE 100 companies have adjusted to the unusual operating environment presented by coronavirus. So far we are seeing very few changes to reporting on social channels. Financial results content has remained consistent in terms of volume, and corporates have continued to focus on LinkedIn and invest in video content. We note that active engagement around corporate content is increasing, as various stakeholders, and in many cases a more ‘woke’ audience, replace passive viewing.

Ant Moore is senior managing director at FTI Consulting

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