Social Media Channels
Probably the most significant social media channel that investors use as a touchpoint is Twitter.
IRMatters has a blog post on this subject - Think you're not on Twitter? Think again. For more IRMatters social media comment, look at our Social Media News page here.
Twitter use in the USA
Twitter use by companies to reach investors in the US is now significant, and is increasing. Some larger US companies now use Twitter as the first and major method of making their earnings calls. They will do this with a succession of tweets containing successive facts about their earnings in a quick series of tweets.
They also tweet the link to their live earnings call - conference call or online meeting – and tweet the individual points made in that earnings call as they are revealed.
This process, and other uses of Twitter by US companies to provide news to their investors, has meant that now there are people talking on Twitter, so there are people listening. In increasingly large numbers.
The use of Twitter for earnings releases in this way is not permitted in Australia, because of the requirement of the ASX listing rules to first announce news on the ASX, and the fact that all ASX Announcements are PDF’s. Australian companies are restricted to a large lump of an announcement, not a series of smaller tweets.
Twitter uses a $cashtag. This is like the ubiquitous #hashtag, where anyone can make up a word following the # sign and anyone else can see all tweets to that #hashtag. For $cashtags, it’s similar, except that there is a convention that the ticker symbol follows the $ sign. Still, anyone can make up a $cashtag and just start using it. So, for example, search $BHP on Twitter and you can see BHP’s Twitter posts.
There are some issues with $cashtags – ticker symbols are not unique across all world stock exchanges. Twitter-using investors will then see a mixture of multiple companies’ tweets on the same $cashtag. Confusion, perhaps, for investors, but it’s a social media and this is the price for the flexibility. Companies with this confusion might like to try using a $cashtag with “AX” or similar before or after the ticker code, but this might lose some investors who don’t know that is the local convention. Or use both.
Of course, anyone can put any $cashtag in any tweet and it will show up on the feed. This is the same as the #hashtag with the company name. Only the posts by the company on the company page in Twitter are the official company posts.
Twitter for ASX listed companies
Because of the growth in use of Twitter by investors in the US since late 2012, Australian companies seeking to attract US investors have begun using Twitter $cashtags, and in particular online brokers are tweeting regularly using a number of Australian listed company $cashtags, presumably initially to reach their US potential audiences. The Australian media tweets using $cashtags. So do individuals. The slow ones so far have been the companies themselves.
Yet the news originally usually emanates for the company itself, and usually from an ASX Announcement. Only the company knows exactly when the ASX Announcement is to be released.
At IRM, our view is that the companies with a good online presence for investors will tweet their ASX Announcements immediately they are released by ASX. Be first with the news, and at least try to set the scene with facts instead of leaving the void for a commentator, activist, or random critic to fill with their opinion.
Depth of Twitter usage
Once engaged with Twitter, listed companies have different choices about how far they go, depending on their social media strategy, investors profile, and budget. Read more about strategies here.
IRM Newsroom offers immediate and automatic tweeting of news items (including ASX Announcements) as soon as they are published. Every time and no delays (depending on your choice of settings). IRM can also assist with setting up your company page on Twitter.
LinkedIn offers the capability for a company page, and people can follow companies. Posts of news items can be made by companies to their company page.
LinkedIn is primarily used by people to communicate their posts to their own private network, and relying on people re-posting items to amplify the news. It is likely that most of the senior people in companies will have a LinkedIn profile and if they have built a network of their own connections then they can re-post the company news to amplify it to their connections.
If the company executives have gone to some trouble over time to be LinkedIn to that part of the investors community that they have had a personal contact with – whether current shareholders or not – then there is something more personal and engaging about an executive sharing company news with his own network. Perhaps it indicates a more caring approach.
IRM Newsroom provides the ability to automatically post news items (including ASX Announcements) to LinkedIn as soon as they are published. Every time and no delays (depending on your choice of settings). IRM can also assist with setting up your company page on LinkedIn.
Are Australian investors really using Facebook to help their investment decisions? The volumes are probably not high, but there are some. And at IRM, we’re sure Facebook would like this usage to increase, so more will happen.
Companies can set up a company page in Facebook, and people can “like” it, to get the news. A range of social media strategies are open to companies wishing to further engage with Facebook.
IRM Newsroom provides the ability to automatically post news items (including ASX Announcements) to Facebook as soon as they are published. Every time and no delays (depending on your choice of settings). IRM can also assist with setting up your company page on Facebook.
Companies with a video presence can easily set up a channel on YouTube to show their videos. This method has some advantages over hosting them on the company website, particularly if there are many of them or they are large files. YouTube is designed to bring a faster and more professional viewing experience than most simple website file uploads will deliver.
IRM clients that have YouTube channels for their videos can have a dedicated page on their website (hosted by IRM Newsroom or HQi) giving the list of videos, perhaps a “brief” about each, and a link to the YouTube piece.
YouTube provides additional advantages in assisting with SEO ranking, provided the right SEO things are done with the YouTube channel. IRM can assist clients in setting up a YouTube channel and their web page for YouTube videos.
Other Social Media
There’s many other social media channels to consider. The landscape will continually change over time. Do you choose Instagram, Pinterest, Slideshare, Stocktwits, Wikipedia, Flickr or many others?
IRM is continually monitoring and responding to client enquiries about these additional channels, and we’re keen to keep learning on behalf of our clients. If we don’t know the answer to your questions we will research them and help you with the journey. Contact Us for a discussion.