Social media tips from Catalyst Global

Jul 07, 2015
<p>Seven tips on making the most of your social outreach</p>

1. Create an IR-specific social media presence
Because investor relations information and its perspective are often different from normal corporate, sales, marketing or other company communications, we believe your IR social media efforts should be conducted in a separate account clearly noted as being for IR use. Our practice is to use ‘IR’ as the suffix for such accounts and we see others doing this as well. Of course, corporate and other accounts can support each other and share similar messages as circumstances and strategy suggest. Leveraging consumer or industry awareness to introduce an IR opportunity can make a lot of sense for some companies.

2. Use stock symbol references
Stock symbol nomenclature was started at StockTwits and later adopted by Twitter and other sites. In most IR-related posts, you should append a dollar sign ($) prefix to your stock symbol as in: $IBM, $GOOG, $AAPL. The $ identifies a stock symbol, creating a searchable reference for investor-related posts. While you can search for a symbol without the $ sign, it will yield a good deal of non-relevant material, not a focused set of stock-related data.

As an example, McEwen Mining used #MUX to denote the stock symbol rather than $MUX. As a result, those searching for news on $MUX would not find this or other company posts. Searching on #MUX will yield posts on a variety of non-stock topics ‒ including a home delivery service in Pakistan. This holds true for posts relating to public company partners, customers or even industry peers; make sure to use the $ approach. In our experience, posts that include multiple stock symbols, properly referenced, achieve far greater visibility and engagement than those with just one client symbol.

3. Social media sharing functions
This is a simple but often missed visibility enhancement for both the entity whose content you are retweeting or sharing and for the subject of the retweet/share. If it’s your website’s retweet function, you should reprogram it to enhance the reach of the retweet activity for your social media posts.

We’ll use Twitter as the example for what we mean, but it’s relevant with other social media services. The problem is that often when you click on the share button to retweet or share a social media post, the social media handle (account name) for the source of the post is not properly identified with its searchable social media name (which in the case of Twitter is signified by the prefix ‘@’ as in @CatalystIR not CatalystIR or #CatalystIR)

To share the following trade publication article via Twitter to highlight further industry demand for fingerprint biometrics in support of a client, we clicked the tweet button to share on Twitter and here’s the text the site’s share function provided:

Share a link

The tweet function failed to include the source’s proper Twitter handle @BiometricUpdate and instead provided ‘BiometricUpdate’ without the Twitter @ signifier that creates a hyperlink to the source’s Twitter account. This reduces the visibility and interactivity of the post for both the source and the retweeting party. Catalyst revises the automated text to include the correct @____ handle while adding appropriate $ stock symbols and keywords to optimize the post for greater visibility and referencing.

4. Auto-posting
In an effort to streamline workflows and time investment in social media, some companies rely on social media ‘auto-posts’ of their news announcements or SEC filings. Such posts are created automatically but can vary in their effectiveness. The auto-posts at issue tend to provide little or no relevant information to help readers understand the nature of the post or the posting entity and/or why the reader should click through to read the post.

Often it’s just a mysterious hyperlink with little or no information. Such posts often fail to include a stock symbol reference and lack any hashtag references that would help position the post in front of those with relevant interest. At their worst, such auto-postings provide virtually zero assistance while demonstrating a lack of appreciation for the intended audience or its information needs, which could even prove damaging to investor relationships over time.

Auto-posting functions via email programs like ConstantContact and some of the newswires create posts based on your press release copy, but you should always review the proposed message and revise it to optimize its efficacy.  

5. Pictures and video
Where possible, add pictures or video to your social media efforts to enhance your communication and to attract more attention. Scroll down the postings on StockTwits and you will see how much an image expands the value of your post and helps to attract attention. While the image function seems focused on stock charts, any photo will work.

6. StockTwits syndication
StockTwits is a Twitter-like social media service catering specifically to investors. It provides a targeted audience for IR efforts (though the site does seem to skew more to traders than fundamental investors) and pioneered the $ stock symbol nomenclature mentioned above. Companies pay a modest fee to establish a validated corporate account so that investors can be certain the messages are coming from a company’s IR team, or they can just establish a no-fee account.

Beyond the visibility you can achieve on the site yourself, StockTwits content (including the posts you make) is distributed/syndicated as a feed into other financial portals including those referenced below (though the list does seem to change as relationships come and go).

StockTwits syndication

We posted the following ‘twit’ (that’s how we differentiate from a tweet) on behalf of our legal technology services client, Epiq Systems, which is visible on Epiq’s CNN Money news page. This feature allows you to get your message in front of a broader audience outside of your normal wire service and EDGAR-based communications/disclosures. For that reason, we generally originate messages on StockTwits and then link that account to the Twitter account, so that posting one message means you reach both channels.

Tweet on CNN

7. To tweet or to retweet: there’s a difference
My colleague Tanya Kamatu taught me another Twitter trick that relates to using existing Twitter user handles as part of your post. While this is not IR-specific, the reach of your comment can be substantially limited if you don’t understand how things work on Twitter.

If you post a comment that starts with a Twitter handle, that tweet will be treated by Twitter as a retweet and therefore not seen by the broader Twitter audience but only by those who follow both your account and the @account that started your tweet.  To combat that limitation, you can place a period before the handle, as in .@account ‒ and then the comment will be seen broadly. This is only the case when the Twitter handle is the first element of a post, not when it’s later in the post. For more information on this topic, please visit thesocialu101.com.

Catalyst remains bullish on the potential of social media to support greater IR visibility over time, and we are eager to counsel companies on how to enhance or initiate a social media effort that adds value and mitigates risk.

This is an extract from a blog that originally appeared on Catalyst Global’s website. Please click here to read the full article.

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