Q4 public company use of social media for investor relations summer2010

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Q4 public company use of social media for investor relations summer2010

  1. 1. A Q4 Whitepaper |Darrell Heaps & Sheryl Joyce 1
  2. 2. Public Company Use of Social Media for Investor Relations Summer 2010 TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary....................................................................................................................................... 3 Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 6 Methodology................................................................................................................................................. 7 Social Media Use by Sector ......................................................................................................................... 10 Social Media Use by Region ........................................................................................................................ 11 Social Media Use by Market Capitalization ................................................................................................ 12 Twitter ......................................................................................................................................................... 13 Facebook ..................................................................................................................................................... 26 Corporate Blogs .......................................................................................................................................... 35 YouTube ...................................................................................................................................................... 42 SlideShare ................................................................................................................................................... 49 LinkedIn ....................................................................................................................................................... 55 Social Media on Corporate Website ........................................................................................................... 56 Best Practices for Public Companies Using Social Media ........................................................................... 62 Best Practices for Specific Social Media Channels ...................................................................................... 63 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................... 66 Appendices.................................................................................................................................................. 67 References .................................................................................................................................................. 95 About Q4 Web Systems .............................................................................................................................. 96 2 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  3. 3. Executive Summary The use of social networks and blogs continues to increase with adoption having surpassed 70% of the online population1. Not surprisingly, most companies utilize these tools to help generate awareness and connect with consumers. Today, the majority of investors and analysts also use these same channels to research companies, discover new investment opportunities and connect/collaborate with other investors. Recognizing this, leading public companies have begun to use these same tools to connect with and influence investors. The use of social media in investor relations (IR) has grown considerably since 2008 and now, based on the research in this report is reaching a tipping point. This report follows two whitepapers we issued in August and November 2009 which examined and analyzed early adopters who used Twitter to extend their communications, connect with new audiences, and interact with their investors and stakeholders. Since then, we continue to see an increasing number of companies who use Twitter to share previously disclosed information such as news and presentations that link back to associated content on their corporate or IR websites. Additionally, we see increased adoption by public companies of other social networks such as Facebook, blogs, YouTube and SlideShare to post investor-related material including: corporate videos showcasing company assets and CEO/CFO interviews regarding quarterly results; industry-related news; conferences; analyst days and annual meetings. Findings from this study show that the predominant social channel for investor-related material is Twitter followed by Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare and blogs. While we have not seen any companies specifically use LinkedIn for IR purposes, it is clear that it has emerged as an important channel that IR professionals need to understand. All of the companies in the study are using all of the social networks to provide context about their company – not just press releases, but to announce strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, events such as participation in banking or industry-related conferences and quarterly conference calls to name a few. Roughly half of the companies in this study actively engage with their followers; however we found very few investors looking to engage companies directly through these channels. Having said that, one company has interacted so much with shareholders on Facebook, that they designated the discussion board as its “official Corporate Discussion Forum” on the organization’s Facebook page. 1 Source: InSites Consulting (http://blog.insites.be/?p=1704) 3 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  4. 4. Technology companies are the most prevalent users of the social networks for investor-related material. Geographically, the U.S. leads the way in all categories, closely followed by Europe and then Canada except for blogs and SlideShare usage where Canada edges Europe. Large cap and small cap companies use all of the channels more than mid cap companies, although we found small cap companies are using blogs and SlideShare more than large cap companies. Some companies refer to information posted on other social channels such as, links on Twitter to a video on YouTube or a corporate presentation, photos from an industry-related conference on Facebook, and discussions on LinkedIn. Many companies link to all of the social networks they use from their website. Of note, we have seen more companies post links for Facebook and Twitter on their sites, as opposed to YouTube, SlideShare or LinkedIn. Twitter All 362 companies in this report have Twitter accounts, and after a careful analysis of the content, we have found that 65% of them are using it to provide investor-related material. Consistent with our findings from our initial research reports, the technology sector still has the highest percentage of companies using Twitter for IR, followed by services and natural resources, with consumer goods, pharma/healthcare/biotech and industrial goods all in close contention for third place. Twitter is also the most widely used channel for investor-related material in the U.S., followed by Europe and Canada. Large cap companies use Twitter the most, with small cap companies outpacing mid cap companies. Across all of the companies in our study, we did not see significant dialogue between investors and companies on Twitter. This is not just a case of companies being unresponsive, but simply that not many investors ask questions through this channel. We found that 42% of the companies have consistent @replies, 62% retweet and 52% use #hashtags. Of the 42% of companies using @replies to engage with their followers, technology companies led the way, followed by services (including airline and phone companies). In a small number of cases @replies were used to address investor questions, however to-date, answers simply directed the person to email the investor relations department. Of this same group we found that 62% use retweets to promote third party content, with technology companies leading the way again, followed by services and then natural resources. Throughout our research we saw many companies use this approach to endorse and re-publish information related to their market and their position on relevant topics. Lastly, we found that 52% of the companies, who use Twitter for investor-related material, use #hashtags to either increase the discoverability of a certain message, or to contribute to a specific event, e.g. annual meeting or analyst day. 4 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  5. 5. The use of #hashtags is most prevalent in the technology sector, followed by services and pharma/heathcare/biotech. Facebook We found 77% or 278 companies in our study have a Facebook account and that 37% use Facebook to provide investor-related material. The technology sector has the highest rate of adoption, followed by natural resources, with services, pharma/healthcare/biotech and industrial goods not far behind. Facebook is the second largest channel used by the U.S. followed by Europe and Canada, and by large cap companies, followed by small and then mid cap companies. Corporate Blogs Of the 362 companies in our study, 36% or 130 have a corporate blog, with 10% that provide investor - related content. Technology companies are the most prevalent users, the services sector is second, followed by the remaining sectors. Companies in the U.S. are the most dominant users of blogs for investor-related material, with Canada next, closely followed by Europe. Small cap companies use blogs for investor-related material most frequently, followed by large cap and then mid cap companies. YouTube Of the companies in our study, 203 or 56% have an official YouTube account and 29% use the channel to provide investor-related material. The technology sector once again leads the way, with services next and consumer goods, natural resources and pharma/healthcare/biotech all following closely. Companies in the U.S. are the most frequent users of YouTube for investor-related material, with Europe and Canada a distant second and third. Large cap companies are the most predominant users, followed by small cap and then mid cap companies. SlideShare We found 10% or 40 companies in our study have official SlideShare accounts with all of them using the channel for investor-related material. The technology sector uses SlideShare the most. Natural resources is second with marginal differences in the remaining sectors of industrial goods, services and clean technology, pharma/healthcare/biotech, consumer goods, and finally automotive, financial and utilities. Small cap companies use SlideShare the most for investor-related material, followed by large cap and mid cap companies. LinkedIn Of the 362 companies in our study, we found that 93% or 337 have a LinkedIn company page. While we have not found that the channel is being used by companies for investor-related material, there is emerging evidence that it is the most popular social network for professionals. In fact over 80% of financial services professionals use LinkedIn and say it’s critical for business development. A new feature on LinkedIn allows anyone to ‘follow’ a company and receive updates to changes in personnel, including promotions. Additional information is also included on the company profile, such as news, stock quote and key statistics. 5 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  6. 6. LinkedIn is evolving quickly and with the high number of professionals using the service, the likelihood is that company specific services will continue to emerge. Our recommendation is to keep a close eye on the evolution of this channel as it will only grow in importance to investor relations. Introduction The adoption of social networks and blogs continues to increase amongst the online population. As a result, more companies are capitalizing on the opportunity to interact with key constituents by integrating social media channels into their broader communications and overall business strategy. In August and November 2009 we issued two whitepapers which examined and analyzed early adopters who are using Twitter to extend their communications, connect with new audiences, and interact with their investors and stakeholders. Since then, we continue to see an increase in the number of companies using Twitter to supplement communications with key audiences by posting links specifically to investor-related material. Additionally, we are also seeing increased adoption by public companies of other social networks such as Facebook, blogs, YouTube and SlideShare as part of their IR program. While we have not seen any companies specifically use LinkedIn for IR purposes, it is clear that it has emerged as an important channel that IR professionals need to understand. In order to get a complete picture of public companies that are using more than Twitter as part of their IR program, we re-visited the 350 companies from our original research to analyze whether they are using additional social channels (such as the ones mentioned above) for investor-related material. We also added a few more companies (as they were relevant to this study) resulting in a total of 362 companies reviewed. A complete list of companies included in the study can be found in Appendix A, broken out by sector and in the pie chart on the next page. 6 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  7. 7. We invite you follow these companies on Twitter, look them up on Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare and LinkedIn in addition to visiting their corporate/IR website and where applicable, their blog. If your company is beginning to or currently using a social network for IR and we have not included you in this report, please follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/q4websystems, join the IR 2.0 Group on LinkedIn, become a Fan of Q4 on Facebook or email us at info@q4websystems.com to be added to the list. Methodology A company was considered to be using social networks for investor relations, if they were providing context about their company and industry, such as providing links to headlines and other content already posted on their corporate or IR websites. For example, press releases, corporate videos showcasing corporate assets and interview footage with the CEO/CFO regarding the latest results. Other information we considered includes industry-related news, conferences, analyst days and annual meetings. 7 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  8. 8. Our original list of companies was compiled from various sources including: The Fortune 500 and Blogging: Slow and steady and farther along than expected2 – a study conducted by Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., and Eric Mattson ,CEO of Financial Insite. The list was supplemented with a partial list of companies cited in a blog post by Brian Solis: Corporate Tweets and the SEC: Sometimes It’s Better To Keep Your Mouth Shut23. As well, we also used the IR Web Report public company Twitter list on Listorious4. Part of our analysis included a review of each company to see if they listed and/or provided links on their website to the social networks they were using. If none were found, a search on the company’s site was conducted using keywords such as “Facebook”, “Blog”, “YouTube”, “SlideShare” and “LinkedIn” and results were evaluated using the established criteria. If a link to any of the social networks listed above was not located through a site search, we then searched for the company name on each of the individual social networks. In some instances, multiple accounts were found on each network, in which case we deemed the official account to be the social network listed on their corporate/IR website. FINDINGS 62% list the social networks on their corporate/IR website 65% use Twitter for investor-related material 37% use Facebook for investor-related material 29% use YouTube for investor-related material 10% use their corporate blog for investor-related material 10% use SlideShare for investor-related material 93% have a company page on LinkedIn 8 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  9. 9. The chart below illustrates the breakdown of companies and their use of the different social networks for investor-related material: Twitter Facebook 35% 37% Used for IR Used for IR Not 63% Not 65% LinkedIn YouTube 7% 29% Used for IR Used for IR Not Not 71% 93% SlideShare IR Blog 11% 10% Used for IR Used for IR Not Not 89% 90% 9 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  10. 10. Social Media Use by Sector The companies who used social networks for investor-related material come from various sectors. The breakdown is illustrated in the chart below. The table ranked highest to lowest (starting with Twitter) can be found in Appendix B. Please note that due to the high percentage of companies with a LinkedIn company page (93%), we omitted this metric from the chart as it skews the data. Social Media Use by Sector 250 200 150 SlideShare 100 YouTube Facebook 50 Blog Twitter 0 Technology companies are using all social networks for investor-related material more than any other sector in our study. As indicated in the chart, they are using Twitter the most, followed by Facebook, YouTube, Blogs and SlideShare. The services sector uses Twitter and YouTube more than any other sector (except for Technology) and natural resource companies use Twitter and Facebook and SlideShare more than any other sector (except for Technology and natural resources). The consumer goods sector uses Twitter and YouTube more than the pharma/healthcare/biotech and industrial goods sectors. Whereas, the pharma/healthcare/biotech sector uses Facebook more than consumer and industrial goods respectively. 10 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  11. 11. Social Media Use by Region The companies who used social networks for investor-related material come from all over the world. The breakdown is provided in the chart below. The table ranked highest to lowest (starting with Twitter) can be found in Appendix C. Please note that due to the high percentage of companies with a LinkedIn company page (93%), we omitted this metric from the chart as it skews the data. Social Media Use by Region 450 400 350 300 SlideShare 250 YouTube Facebook 200 Blog 150 Twitter 100 50 0 US Europe Canada Brazil Other China Australia As portrayed in the chart, the U.S. uses all of the social networks researched for our study for investor- related material/information more than any other region. Europe is a distant second as they use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube more than the remaining regions that include Canada, Brazil, Australia, China and the Other category. Canada is not so far behind Europe with only slightly fewer companies using Facebook and YouTube. However, after the U.S., Canadian companies are the second largest users of SlideShare for investor- related material. 11 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  12. 12. Social Media Use by Market Capitalization Market Cap was calculated using the close price and current shares outstanding as posted on Google finance at the time we conducted the research (period from June 1-June 28). For simplicity, we categorized each company as small ($0-2 billion); medium ($2-10 billion); and large ($10+ billion). The breakdown is provided in the chart below. The table ranked highest to lowest (starting with Twitter) can be found in Appendix D. Please note that due to the high percentage of companies with a LinkedIn company page (93%), we omitted this metric from the chart as it skews the data. Social Media Use by Market Cap 250 200 150 SlideShare YouTube Facebook 100 Blog Twitter 50 0 Large Mid Small Large cap companies, followed by small and medium cap companies use Twitter the most for investor- related material. Facebook is the second most used social network followed by YouTube. Similar to Twitter, both large cap companies are using Facebook and YouTube the most for investor-related material followed by small cap and then medium cap companies. Interestingly, small cap companies are using both SlideShare and blogs the most for investor-related material, followed by large and then medium cap companies. 12 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  13. 13. Twitter All 362 companies in this report have Twitter accounts, and after a careful analysis of the content, we found that 65% or 237 are using it to provide investor-related material. This is a significant increase from the 35% we reported in Q3 2009. Our previous report illustrated how companies used Twitter for investor relations and found that most used the micro-blog to broadcast previously disclosed information, which they linked back to press releases and presentations on their website. This current study confirms that companies are still doing this, however we have seen an expansion on the types of content being shared and the way that Twitter is being used to provide a greater context to the company and its market. Further, there has also been an increase in engagement levels (@replies, retweets, #hashtags). Companies often link from Twitter back to their blogs: http://twitter.com/Accelrys/status/13878440624 or other social media sites such as a video on YouTube; a corporate presentation or photos from an industry-related conference on Facebook: http://twitter.com/BRCDcomm/status/15801797465; or a discussion happening in a LinkedIn group: http://twitter.com/adventsoftware/status/16238328283. Technology still has the highest percentage of adopters for investor-related material, although services and large consumer goods companies, airlines and phone companies are using Twitter for a mix of product offers, store news, customer interaction and feedback in addition to investor-related material. As you can see from the chart on the next page, technology leads the way with 87 companies in our study using Twitter for investor-related material, followed by services, natural resources, consumer goods and pharma/healthcare/biotech. 13 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  14. 14. Use of Twitter for IR Technology Services Natural Resources Consumer Goods Pharma/Healthcare/Biotech Twitter for IR Industrial Goods Twitter Utilities Financial Automotive Clean Technology 0 50 100 150 200 250 We continue to see companies tweet their quarterly earnings like BMC Software: http://twitter.com/bmcsoftware/status/5268322091; linking to an interview of their CEO discussing their latest earnings on financial programs like Sybase: http://twitter.com/Sybase/status/12666957382 and http://twitter.com/Sybase/status/12728346028; and Google who tweeted the availability of their Q2 earnings (first example of a website being used to disclose material information – no press release was issued through a newswire): http://twitter.com/google/status/18628386151 14 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  15. 15. Ebay also continues to be a leader in Live Tweeting their earning calls: http://twitter.com/ebayinkblog/status/19063719642. We have also seen interesting new uses of Twitter: Hewlett Packard (HP) has a number of Twitter accounts. @hpnews actively shares a broad range of investor related information and is a very active participant in StockTwits (the popular Investor Trading Network that is connected to Twitter) and includes $HPQ to most of their tweets. HP uses Twitter extensively for financial related news http://twitter.com/hpnews/status/14243997665. But they also used it during their recent acquisition of Palm and Snapfish: http://stocktwits.com/hpnews/message/1584890 The company also shares investor presentations they have posted on SlideShare on StockTwits: http://stocktwits.com/hpnews/message/1448593. By following @stocktwits and appending their tweets with $HPQ, HP is ensuring their tweets get displayed to other investors on StockTwits and included in the ongoing conversation among the 95,000+ StockTwits members that discuss trading and investment ideas related to HP. The Stocktwits community is comprised of experienced traders and investors and is the fastest growing investment social network on the web today. 15 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  16. 16. A number of other companies also include their ticker symbol with a $ sign in their tweets such as Soltera Mining: http://twitter.com/SolteraMining/status/17434417744 and Barrick Gold (disclosure: they are a Q4 client): http://twitter.com/BarrickGold/status/15423880407 Amgen has a very active Twitter account where they tweet often about company news, products and community involvement. We discovered an interesting tweet that links to their website and gives visitors the choice of viewing the website in regular HD or in 3D: http://twitter.com/Amgen/status/15665269350 16 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  17. 17. Tirex Resources recently tweeted “any expressions of interest on Tirex financing should be in, at the latest, by tomorrow morning. Email info@tirexresources.com”: http://twitter.com/TirexResources/status/18380634803 Royal Dutch Shell provided a link to a webchat they hosted to discuss their thoughts on the future of the energy industry: http://twitter.com/shelldotcom/status/18530442711 The bit.ly link takes followers to a section on the company’s website that provides more details about the chat. Also on the website, there is an “About Webchats” area section: http://shelldialogues.com/bigideas/. 17 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  18. 18. GlaxoSmithKline is one of many active pharma/healthcare/biotech companies on Twitter. There is a camaraderie amongst the company and their peers, which overflows into some of the tweets. For example GSK retweeted TRxA (an industry organization that is sponsored by several leading pharmaceutical companies) about joining their sponsors on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TRxA/status/11478721872 They also retweeted a survey which asked followers to rate which pharmaceutical company used social media the best in 2010: http://twitter.com/jonmrich/status/12900676601. Chevron recently started issuing the “Chevron Pulse Report: The State of Online Conversation About Energy Issues” – it is a quarterly report that discusses what energy issues people are talking about in the online community. They recently tweeted about their second report (which examines the online conversation and analyzes trends that developed over the 18-month period) and provided a link to a video on their website http://bit.ly/8ZSMOn: http://twitter.com/Chevron/status/18694810518 18 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  19. 19. Lastly, Tom Tom recently tweeted about some additional Twitter accounts they have such as: http://twitter.com/TomTom/status/15775060303 Twitter Engagement “Engagement” refers to the ways in which companies use Twitter to engage in conversation. To this end, we scanned and reviewed the @replies, retweets and use of #hashtags of all 237 companies that use Twitter for investor-related material to gauge their level of interaction. We found that 42% of the companies have consistent @replies, 62% retweet and 52% use #hashtags. Replies Retweets Hashtags 42% Engaged 38% Engaged Engaged 48% 52% 58% Not 62% Not Not Of the 42% of companies using @replies to engage with their followers, technology companies lead the way, followed by services (including airline and phone companies). We found that 62% of this same group use retweets, with technology companies in the lead again, followed by services and then natural resources. It appears that a number of companies use retweets to share industry-related news to provide a better context for their business. 19 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  20. 20. Twitter Engagement by Sector Technology Services Natural Resources Consumer Goods Pharma/Healthcare/Biotech Replies Retweets Industrial Goods #hashtags Utilities Automotive Financial Clean Technology 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 @REPLIES @replies are used to have a conversation in public view on Twitter. These conversations can range from a simple “thank you” for retweeting a post, to full blown discussions related to the company, its products and services etc. In a small number of cases @replies were used to address investor questions, however, to-date the answers simply directed the person to email the investor relations department. 20 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  21. 21. Investor Question: http://twitter.com/pmarganski/status/19092917608 Answer and direction to IR: http://twitter.com/Microvision/status/18061379992 Across all of the companies in our study we did not see significant dialogue between investors and companies on Twitter. This is not just a case of companies not responding, but simply, there are not a lot of investors asking questions through this channel. This differs from other social networks such as Facebook. Our conclusion is that the value of Twitter for companies is it behaves more like an information network than a social network for investors. This may change in the future, as more investors begin to engage companies through Twitter. For now, we advise that companies should view Twitter as an efficient channel to disseminate information and to provide context to investors interested in their market and business. 21 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  22. 22. RETWEETS To provide greater context for investors, 62% of companies actively used retweets to promote third party content. Retweets are a very easy way to re-publish information found on Twitter. Throughout our research we saw many companies use this approach to endorse and re-publish information related to their market and their position on relevant topics. For example, Emulex recently retweeted an article that another company in their space shared on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Emulex/status/18618946907 Similarly, Johnson & Johnson retweeted an industry peer who wanted to direct followers to a recall of some of their products: http://twitter.com/JNJComm/status/18061124096 22 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  23. 23. Michael Baker Corp is also active on Twitter and stays apprised of industry-related news: http://twitter.com/MBakerCorp/status/19001104815 Although retweeting is not a direct form of dialogue, it is an important way that companies can build relationships with their followers. When content is retweeted by a company, that company is saying “this is important”, this can establish the company as a credible source of information on their industry. Providing and promoting this increased context builds trust with investors who see the company as wanting to help them understand their market and overall opportunity. #HASHTAGS Hashtags are essentially a simple way to catalogue and connect tweets about a specific topic. They make it easier for users to find additional tweets on a particular subject, while filtering out the incidental tweets that may just coincidentally contain the same keyword. Hashtags are also often used by conference and event organizers as a method of keeping all tweets about the event in a single stream. Within our study, we found #hashtags were used to either increase the discoverability of a certain message, or to contribute to a specific event, for example, a company’s annual meeting or analyst day. Similar to past research, we found that #hashtags are still being used by some companies to live-tweet their earnings call such as Garmin: http://twitter.com/GarminStock/status/13429517844 23 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  24. 24. The use of #hashtags is more prevalent by companies in the technology sector, followed by services and pharma/heathcare/biotech. Some companies in the natural resources sector e.g. New Gold (disclosure: a Q4 client) used them quite extensively to affiliate relevant keywords such as #gold, #miners and #engineers: http://twitter.com/NewGoldInc/status/13999655375 The increased popularity of #hashtags on Twitter has led to a number of services which allow people to easily follow conversations around #hashtags, one such service is whatthehashtag which enables tweeters to do a search on trending #hashtags. The value of this service is enormous, as it compiles the feed and archives it, so anyone who was not able to follow along or participate in the “live” chat can read the transcript at their convenience. Their popular usage is also visible on Twitter Search, which usually has a #hashtag term in trending topics: http://search.twitter.com/ 24 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  25. 25. There are many benefits to companies who choose to use #hashtags on Twitter. For example, they vastly increase the chance that the company will be discovered, particularly if they consistently use the same #hashtag. However companies should not overuse #hashtags (such as using several in one tweet) as it may diminish the value of the message by confusing the context of the tweet. Instead, using one #hashtag that is clearly related to an event, such as a specific quarterly, like this example, eBay, helps increase the likelihood that people will discover that event: http://twitter.com/ebayinkblog/status/19063719642 Also, using #hashtags during an earnings call easily lets other people on Twitter ask questions by simply appending the same tag to their tweet. This way everyone who is following that #hashtag will see the question. #irchat – although not related to this study. Every Thursday at 11am ET there is a Twitter chat to discuss various investor relations topics. Simply search for #irchat on twitter to follow along and jump in if you have something to say. http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23irchat Twitter Link on Website As mentioned, all of the companies in our study have a Twitter account. However, many (148) do not post a link to the channel on their website. In our discussions with companies, we have found that some prefer not to include Twitter on their website as they are still “testing” the channel. Our recommendation is that companies that are providing investor-related material through Twitter, should acknowledge this on their website. Many of the companies that do not list Twitter on their website, have built up a sizeable following of more than a few hundred followers. At this point, Twitter is no longer a test and should be treated as any other communication channel. 25 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  26. 26. On this note, we have also noticed that some of the companies, (even though they are providing investor-focused content), choose not to post tweets when earnings or other material press releases have been issued. We strongly advise that Twitter should always be in sync with traditional communication channels and the investor website. Facebook After Twitter, we found that Facebook has quickly become a popular social channel used by public companies – we found that 77% or 278 companies in our study, have a Facebook account and 37%, use Facebook to provide investor- related material. Although 37% is larger than the adoption rate we anticipated, the companies that are on Facebook but not using it to share investor-related content are missing an opportunity to increase awareness and engage with investors. Within our study, the 37% that use Facebook do so to increase awareness about the company and potentially engage with investors. The chart below illustrates that the technology sector is once again leading the way, with natural resources, services, pharma/healthcare/biotech and industrial not far behind. Use of Facebook for IR Technology Services Consumer Goods Natural Resources Pharma/Healthcare/Biotech Facebook for IR Industrial Goods Facebook Financial Utilities Automotive Clean Technology 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 26 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  27. 27. All of these companies do an exceptional job of providing context about the company and their industry by sharing investor-related material such as press releases, industry-related news articles and information on conferences. We are also seeing companies repurpose video content by aggregating the same footage used on their IR website such as an interview with the CEO/CFO commenting on the company’s strategy while some pull in RSS feeds from their IR website or blog to populate their Facebook pages. There are quite a few good examples, but we have chosen to showcase only a handful we deem innovative or unique: Newport Digital Technologies Newport’s Facebook account was very active. The information posted was current and offered a good balance of information about the company, including recent press releases, links to recent shareholder conference calls and videos that provided an overview of the company. One video had Isaac Cruz, Digital Strategy Manager, explaining the functions of the strategically located offices around the globe: http://www.facebook.com/NewportDigitalTechnologies#!/video/video.php?v=116528865037305 27 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  28. 28. We were impressed with the range of context Newport provided, such as the link on their wall to their Posterous blog regarding an event they attended for channel partners in their space i.e. Data Capture/point of sale sectors of wireless and RFID technologies. The post included some staff photos and product demos which were showcased: http://ndtlive.posterous.com/update-ndt-participated-in- ingram-micros-part. In addition to posting their social networks on their website, when you launch the videos on Facebook, the company displayed this message: “All social networking communities NDT is a part of can be found at http://www.newportdt.com/”: http://www.facebook.com/NewportDigitalTechnologies#!/video/video.php?v=111779838845541. Symantec Symantec’s Facebook account had current and up-to-date information relevant to the investment community such as links to presentations, strategic acquisitions, and an article where Symantec’s CEO, Enrique Salem, answered 20 questions from the Financial Times. Of note, wherever possible, all of the posts on their wall linked back to information housed on their website. For example, they posted: 28 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  29. 29. The bit.ly link took you to a page on their website where the CEO provided commentary on the acquisition. An embedded presentation housed on SlideShare offered a complete overview of the transaction: http://www.symantec.com/business/theme.jsp?themeid=vs&om_ext_cid=biz_socmed_2010May Another example from Symantec is a post announcing an Analyst Day: 29 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  30. 30. This linked to a summary event page on their IR website that provided details about the event: http://investor.symantec.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=89422&p=irol-EventDetails&EventId=3108392 30 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  31. 31. Timken Timken was also quite active on Facebook as they frequently posted company news and industry-related material on their wall. We particularly liked their dedicated tabs for Twitter, YouTube and News: http://www.facebook.com/timken#!/timken?v=wall They used the News tab to post the most recent news releases and the Twitter tab for their latest tweets. Having news separated is a good idea as it makes it easier for people to see their latest releases instead of reading through the posts on their wall. News also linked back to their website (as the releases were all housed there). Similarly, having a separate Twitter tab gives people quick access to this content and immediately communicates Timkin is also on Twitter. 31 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  32. 32. Facebook Engagement In November 2009, TVI Pacific, (disclosure: a Q4 client) a small cap copper mining company based in Calgary, AB, Canada launched a communications program incorporating social media tools and platforms to increase awareness about their story and engage stakeholders. Their strategy included a website redesign as this would become the main information channel for the company and gave prominence to their social media channels through a dedicated “Connect with Us” section which offered links to RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, Flickr and YouTube. Little did the company know that their discussion board on Facebook would attract so many comments (mainly by retail investors). Rhonda Bennetto, TVI’s Executive Director Investor Communications was dedicated to answering the questions on the discussion board and soon it grew from a few posts to hundreds spanning 47 separate discussions: http://www.facebook.com/tvipacific?ref=ts#!/board.php?uid=209051015800 As a result of this explosion on the discussion page, in a news release issued on April 22, 2010, the company recognized the discussion board on the company’s Facebook page as its “official Corporate Discussion Forum.” 32 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  33. 33. Facebook Link on Website Of the 278 companies with a Facebook account, 166 posted a link to the channel on their website. Companies who choose not to let visitors know they are using Facebook as part of their communications strategy are missing an opportunity to interact with their key audiences on a social network they may be using. Protest Facebook Pages During our research we discovered six companies that have protest pages against their company: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-ExxonMobil/304328864370 http://www.facebook.com/ShameOnNVEnergy http://www.facebook.com/pages/Down-with-SDGE-and-Sempra-the-evil-monopoly-of-San- Diego/224759721350 http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=186051910407 http://www.facebook.com/pages/Telecom-New-Zealand-Complaints-Forum/315733613456 One of the six has a Facebook account, while the other five do not. It doesn’t appear that the company with a Facebook account has interacted with the protesters on the discussion forum: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2248306206 33 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  34. 34. While we are not advocating that companies respond to each and every thing they see, it is advantageous to be on the same channel as the protesters to more easily monitor what they are saying. It also helps to be on the same channel because if it is ever necessary to respond (to correct an erroneous fact etc.) the company will know how to use the channel properly and will have built Facebook ‘Friends’ to help them spread the word. Conversely, the remaining five who don’t have a Facebook page are at a big disadvantage because they may not even know the protest pages exist. Similarly, they won’t know how to use the channel properly to respond in the event that it is necessary to do so and they will not have a Facebook following to help them broaden their message. 34 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  35. 35. Corporate Blogs There is limited concrete research on companies with blogs strictly dedicated to IR, but we have found it to be far less than those who are using Twitter for the same purpose. Of the 362 companies in our study, 36% or 130 have a corporate blog, with 10% that provide investor relations content. Use of Corporate Blog for IR Technology Services Pharma/Healthcare/Biotech Industrial Goods Natural Resources Blog for IR Financial Corporate Blog Clean Technology Consumer Goods Automotive Utilities 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Based on our ongoing discussions with IROs regarding social media, we were not surprised by the low incidence of corporate blogs in our study. When it comes to social channels for investor relations, blogs may represent too much of a sustained effort or are viewed as high risk in terms of disclosure. While companies may be comfortable with micro-blogging to tweet previously released information, creating original articles for a blog poses challenges in content creation and can be seen by legal departments to be fraught with disclosure risk. Both of these concerns can be addressed by realizing that generating content is centered on providing context around the company (operations, key business metrics, corporate strategy, performance) and its industry. Risk can largely be addressed by creating effective social media policies, which incorporate disclosure controls or guidelines. 35 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  36. 36. Companies that are not extending their blog to include investor-related material are missing an opportunity to provide their investors with greater context. For example, by using the blog to provide more details around quarterly earnings and subsequently pointing investors to the blog after the earnings call, not only delivers greater context but also helps save time otherwise spent answering questions over the phone and via email. Many companies have one corporate blog where marketing, product or research staff comment on new products and provide their viewpoint on industry developments while IR-related material, may focus on significant milestones or events. Specifically, companies are providing insight and commentary on: peer/sector related news, such as scientific publications that impact or pertain to the company’s work; updates on project developments, oftentimes with an accompanying presentation or graphics; and material news such as an announcement of a merger or financing. We found that some technology companies have several blogs, with each dedicated to a specific department. For example a Marketing blog that is geared toward customers and partners, and a R&D blog that is populated by engineers and “techies” who build and test products. Technology companies also seem to have a higher number of CEO-dedicated blogs, but some consumer goods and natural resource companies also have blogs where their CEO comments on company/industry news. Accelyrs Software Accelyrs’ blog is geared toward customers with contributions by product managers, developers and research staff. However, in spite of being mainly used to discuss product and industry information, the company did post the details of their recent merger with Symyx Technologies. 36 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  37. 37. http://blog.accelrys.com/2010/07/accelrys-symyx-merge/ The post was written by the “Accelrys Team” (comprised by the contributors previously outlined) which consisted of a brief overview of the merger (not simply verbatim from the press release), accompanied by a link to the full press release for further details. The company also created a new area in their Accelrys Online Community called ‘The Headquarters’, with a link to a Customer FAQ sheet to answer specific questions about the merger. Having a dedicated area such as ‘The Headquarters’ related to a specific company event like a merger, is a proactive way to engage and gather feedback and concerns that customers, partners, investors and employees of Accelrys and Symyx may have. Hosting their comments in an open forum helps everyone participate in the conversation to share and gain knowledge. 37 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  38. 38. Axion International Axion designs, develops and manufactures eco-friendly structural building materials, and consequently provides links from their blog to industry-relevant publications such as “GreenTechMedia” – an online magazine that keeps tabs on “Green” companies like Axion. Additionally, their co-founder and CEO Marc Green has quite a few posts whereby he gives insight into articles he deems interesting and of course relevant to Axiom’s core business. Of interest, in January of this year, Axion extended their blog onto Seeking Alpha: http://axih.webir.com/2010/01/axions-investor-community-extends-to-seekingalpha/ Being on Seeking Alpha is a good tactic to drive people to their blog as it helps increase awareness about the company and reaches more audiences. 38 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  39. 39. China Wind Power In January 2010, China Wind Power launched their IR Blog. For a small cap Canadian company, China Wind does a great job of keeping their stakeholders apprised of their business strategy and company developments. For example, the image below provides an overview of one of their development projects: http://chinawindpower.posterous.com/tag/developmentphases Companies should maximize opportunities to provide context about their organization whenever they can, as providing information around all areas of the business helps investors piece together a complete picture of the company. 39 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  40. 40. Emulex Emulex has four blogs that cover off all aspects of their business including marketing, R&D and the technology industry in general. For the purpose of our study, we highlight their “CEO Blog” which is authored by Jim McCluney, the company’s president and CEO. McCluney uses the blog to convey his expertise of the company’s business through detailed commentary on company news: http://www.emulex.com/blogs/jim/ Having the CEO give his two cents on company developments such as a partnership or merger is advantageous for both the company and its shareholders. The CEO is able to provide more color on why an event is beneficial to the organization and shareholders gain valuable insight directly from the CEO. 40 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  41. 41. Rackspace Rackspace has a corporate blog that covers a diverse range of topics including corporate strategy, company news, industry events and investor-centric information. For example, recent posts pertained to an overview of a strategic partnership, while another covered an analyst day at the NYSE. They also posted a video in which Patrick Walravens, an on-demand and enterprise software analyst at JMP Securities (who covers the company) interviewed Lew Moorman, President, Cloud and Chief Strategy Officer. http://www.rackspace.com/blog/?p=504 Video footage of an analyst interviewing a key member of management is an innovative idea and gives investors (particularly retail) exposure to the sell-side, which is rare. 41 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  42. 42. YouTube Of the companies in our study, 203 or 56% have an official YouTube account and 29% use this channel to provide investor-related material. ‘Official ‘means that the company has registered and manages the YouTube account directly as opposed to a third party posting videos on behalf of the company. Many companies use YouTube to post a variety of things such as product and promotional videos. However, only those who also posted CSR videos, executive interviews including the CEO or CFO discussing recent quarterly results, a strategic acquisition or merger and videos showcasing corporate assets were deemed to be using the channel for investor-related purposes. Some companies only had a few videos posted, while others were using the channel frequently and had 20+ videos posted to their account. As it would be impossible to watch all of the videos to determine whether they were investor-related, we searched keywords such as investors, quarterly/quarterly report, annual report, investor relations, CEO, analysts, shareholders, stakeholders, news/press releases, sustainability (CSR) and merger/acquisition to reach our conclusions. As the chart below illustrates, the companies who most prevalently use YouTube for investor-related material are those in the technology, services, consumer goods, natural resources and pharma/biotech/healthcare sectors: Use of YouTube for IR Technology Services Consumer Goods Natural Resources Pharma/Healthcare/Biotech YouTube for Investors Industrial Goods YouTube (or other video) Financial Automotive Utilities Clean Technology 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Of note, technology and pharma/biotech/healthcare companies use the channel the most to post videos from conferences and of the CEO/CFO discussing a company or industry-related topic, while consumer goods and natural resources use it mostly to showcase CSR-related videos. 42 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  43. 43. Google uses YouTube to webcast important company events like their annual meeting in May: http://www.youtube.com/googleir#p/u/6/FfE3LrywIuA 43 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  44. 44. And their earnings call in July: http://www.youtube.com/GoogleIR 44 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  45. 45. Allscripts has over 134 videos on YouTube including an Annual Report video: http://www.youtube.com/user/AllscriptsTV Allscripts’ CEO, Glen Tullman is a former White House advisor and consequently is called upon to participate on many panels. For example, he has been asked to participate in a White House healthcare debate: http://www.youtube.com/user/AllscriptsTV#p/a/f/2/NraU6Txx25U and on Fox Biz news “Money for Breakfast”, in which he is asked to rate President Obama’s performance on healthcare and the economy: http://www.youtube.com/user/AllscriptsTV#p/search/2/HZ3J94qWTjM. Allscripst uses YouTube to showcase their CEO as a thought leader in the pharma/biotech/healthcare industry. This is great additional information for shareholders as it underscores the credibility and quality of Allscript’s leading executive, which builds confidence with investors. Smithfield Foods takes CSR seriously and communicates this priority to shareholders by including a “responsibility” tab on the main navigation of their website. The dropdown is quite extensive with many different CSR-related areas including: CSR reports, environmental leadership and animal welfare to name a few. The company doesn’t use their website to post videos, but has a “Visit our videos” on a YouTube tab at the bottom of each page. 45 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  46. 46. Almost all of their videos on YouTube deal with CSR. Including a chat with their Chief Sustainability Officer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSuFtMomMOA In addition, viewers can watch “fast fact” videos that address how hard Smithfield Foods works to conserve and make their business more sustainable: http://www.youtube.com/user/SmithfieldFoods#p/a/953027C8B128BC9A/1/yb4fGN8ZTvM. They also encourage viewers to visit the Responsibility section on their website: www.smithfieldfoods.com. Companies that post links to the social channels they use on their website and similarly drive viewers back to their website from those social channels such as YouTube will increase awareness of their company. Posting videos on YouTube makes it easy for interested parties such as the financial media, institutional and retail shareholders, to share their videos as the embed code is easily extracted and can be cut and pasted virtually anywhere. Royal Dutch Shell is another example of a company that posts a link to YouTube on their website. They also point YouTube viewers to their strategy section on their website “Royal Dutch Shell plc updates on strategy to improve performance and grow. Please visit http://www.shell.com/strategy2010 for more information” after watching a “strategy update” video: 46 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  47. 47. http://www.youtube.com/user/Shell#p/search/0/MUPOYJUwLz4 YouTube Link on Website Of the 203 companies with a YouTube account, 103 post a link to the channel on their website. Often, companies use YouTube to post supplemental information about the organization such as corporate videos, which showcase their assets. Many companies also re-purpose video content by aggregating the same footage used on their IR website with other channels such as YouTube and Facebook. To reiterate, companies that do not post a link to the social channels they are using on their website are missing an opportunity to increase awareness of their company. Posting videos on YouTube makes it easy for interested parties such as the financial media, institutional and retail shareholders, to share their videos as the embed code is easily extracted and can be cut and pasted virtually anywhere. 47 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  48. 48. Protest Videos During our research, we discovered a YouTube protest account against one of the companies in our study that does not have an official YouTube account: http://www.youtube.com/user/casellawastedsystems Again, we are not certain that the company knows the protest account exists, but it would be beneficial to have a YouTube account so they can establish their corporate voice on their own terms. For example, the company could use the channel to highlight all of the good things they are doing and indirectly, rebut the negative videos posted. Using the channels adopted by key audiences, such as institutional and retail investors (and even activist groups) will allow a company to engage when appropriate to answer questions or clarify misinformation communicated within that same channel, which could help stave off potential crises. 48 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  49. 49. SlideShare We found 10% or 40 companies in our study have official SlideShare accounts with all of them using the channel for investor-related material. ‘Official’ means that the company has registered and manages the SlideShare account directly as opposed to a third party posting presentations on behalf of the company. Use SlideShare for IR Technology Natural Resources Industrial Goods Services Clean Technology SlideShare for IR Pharma/Healthcare/Biotech SlideShare Consumer Goods Automotive Utilities Financial 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 The investor-related material posted to SlideShare includes corporate overview presentations with some specifically geared toward earnings such as Agnico-Eagle (disclosure: a Q4 client) http://www.slideshare.net/agnico/agnicoeagle-mines-limited-q4-results; conferences, analyst days such as Juniper Networks: http://www.slideshare.net/networksguy/copyright-2009-juniper-networks-inc- wwwjunipernet and annual meetings. 49 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  50. 50. Companies are also posting presentations that provide an overview of a strategic acquisition, while a few are clearly using the channel to extend their reach to investor audiences through the multiple investor-related presentations and documents posted on the channel like Dell: http://www.slideshare.net/Dell_Inc 50 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  51. 51. A handful of companies, like Pfizer and Symantec, have begun customizing their SlideShare channel (a new service offered by SlideShare). This allows the company more control over the design of their channel on SlideShare. Pfizer: http://www.slideshare.net/Pfizer 51 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  52. 52. Symantec http://www.slideshare.net/symantec A couple of companies do an excellent job of maximizing their use of SlideShare. For example, TVI Pacific and Barrick Gold (disclosure: they are clients of Q4) both publish their corporate presentations on SlideShare and embed them on their website which provides highly visible, quick access to this content on their site and increases readership in both channels: 52 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  53. 53. http://www.tvipacific.com/Investors/Presentations-and-Webcasts/default.aspx 53 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  54. 54. http://www.barrick.com/News/Presentations/default.aspx Lastly, while they don’t have official SlideShare accounts, we included Aura Minerals and Avnet in the study as they embed their corporate presentations on SlideShare and post these on their website. While this will increase the likelihood of having their presentations shared, having an official SlideShare account, will give others a point of reference. For example, if another entity is posting company material and that company has an official account, an interested party will likely choose the company account over the non-official account. Having an official account also makes it easier for users to view other presentations deemed important by the company as these assets will all be located within the same account. 54 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  55. 55. SlideShare Link on Website Of the 33 companies with SlideShare accounts, five include a link to this channel on their website. Companies who choose not to let visitors know they are using SlideShare decrease the odds that their presentations will be viewed or shared. Like YouTube, companies that post presentations on SlideShare make it easy for interested parties such as the financial media, institutional and retail shareholders to share their presentations as the embed code is easily extracted and can be cut and pasted virtually anywhere. LinkedIn 93% of the companies in our study have a LinkedIn company page. This page includes basic information on the company’s current employees, new hires and recent departures. A new feature on LinkedIn allows anyone to “follow” a company and receive updates to any changes in personnel, including promotions. Additional information is also included on the company profile, such as news, stock quote and key statistics. http://www.linkedin.com/companies/fedex 55 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  56. 56. Company pages on LinkedIn are mostly automatically created (for public companies at least) and as such cannot be “turned off” so you should ensure the information displayed on this page is correct – all you need to do is search for your company on LinkedIn to see what is being communicated there. With the new ‘follow’ feature it is now very easy for investors to track every movement of people in your organization. Even if you are building up a new department or restructuring, this information is being communicated through LinkedIn and displayed on your company page without your involvement. LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals. In fact over 80% of financial services professionals use LinkedIn and say it’s critical for business development. So this is not a network to be ignored. LinkedIn is evolving quickly and with the high number of professionals using the service, the likelihood is that company specific services will continue to emerge. Our recommendation is to keep a close eye on the evolution of this channel, as it will only grow in importance to investor relations. LinkedIn Link on Website Of the 337 companies on LinkedIn, only 36 include a link to the channel on their website. Neglecting to provide a link to this channel on your website obviously reduces the chance that visitors will know you have a profile. Investors can get some interesting facts from your LinkedIn profile such as new hires etc., which will help provide a sense of how the company is doing. For example, if you are hiring, that’s a good sign that business is okay. Social Media on Corporate Website We have seen an increase in the number of companies who provide links to all of their social networks as part of their broader communications strategy via a “Stay Connected”, “Connect With Us”, or “Follow Us” approach. Some companies have a dedicated social media tab on the main navigation of their corporate homepage. This tab links to a comprehensive listing of their social networks with details about the kind of information that can be found in each channel. Of the companies included in our study, 226 or 62% have chosen to post links on their website to the social networks they use. These companies come from various sectors but technology leads the way, followed by services, pharma/healthcare/biotech and consumer goods. What follows are some examples of companies who we feel are innovators in this category: 56 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  57. 57. Dedicated Social Media Page Ford Motor Company Ford has a “Ford Social Networks” link in their main navigation, which is universal throughout their website. When users click on the link, the sub-navigation displays all of their social networks on a series of tabs. Each tab details what can be found in that particular network. The right hand navigation which is universal throughout the website, includes a link to their Twitter account and displays the most recent tweets. It also links to their YouTube and Flickr accounts and displays thumbnails of recent videos and pictures respectively. http://www.thefordstory.com/ford-social-networks/ 57 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  58. 58. Henkel Henkel has a section on the right-hand navigation entitled “Henkel & Social Media”. Once users click on “Henkel & Social Media”, they are taken to a robust section where, like Ford, a series of tabs list all of the social networks and what can be found on each. http://www.henkel.com/cps/rde/xchg/henkel_com/hs.xsl/henkel-social-media.htm?automaticTransfer=3 58 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  59. 59. Connect With Us Alaska Airlines Alaska Airlines has a “Connect With Us” link prominently displayed on the “About Company” homepage. They also have a dedicated “Social Media” tab on the left-hand navigation. Upon clicking on either of these tabs, users are taken to a listing of all social networks with a link and a description of what can be found on each channel. http://www.alaskaair.com/as/www2/help/contacts/social-media.asp Of note, the company has an interesting feature called “flyer talk” - a forum where customers can exchange ideas and interact with employees. Users can also login to Flyertalk with their Facebook account. We tried this and didn’t find a flyertalk forum there, but the company does a great job of interacting with people on Facebook and uses this channel to also post videos and other company information. 59 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  60. 60. Follow Us / Stay Connected Some companies have a “Follow Us on the Web” or “Stay Connected” feature. For example, Monsanto provides a listing of all their social media links on their homepage in a featured area "Follow Us on the Web". http://www.monsanto.com/ 60 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  61. 61. Agnico-Eagle has a “Follow Us” feature that appears on the top of every page - and once users click on this they are taken to a page with various ways to "follow" the company such as email alerts, RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo (disclosure Agnico-Eagle is a Q4 client). http://agnico-eagle.com/English/Follow-Us/default.aspx While Monsanto and Agnico-Eagle do not have a dedicated social media page on their respective websites, these companies recognize the importance of letting users know of alternate channels where they can interact with the company and they provide this information on their website, where it can easily be found. We strongly recommend if your company is using social media, that you let your constituents know by adding a "Connect with Us" or "Follow us" area on your corporate website. Otherwise you deprive them of the opportunity to engage with your company and you limit your organization’s chance to interact with current and potential shareholders in their chosen medium. 61 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  62. 62. Best Practices for Public Companies Using Social Media Only share material information that has already been disclosed through a Reg FD approved method. Social networks can be used to establish your company as thought leaders in your industry; share industry-related information as well as any other supplemental information to help provide more background and context about the company’s business and market opportunity, e.g. videos that showcase corporate assets. If you are a public company and are already using social networks for marketing and PR you should also be using them for investor relations content. If people ask questions that are not IR-related; use this as a customer service opportunity and direct them to the appropriate channel. If you are using social channels for IR already, use them consistently e.g. if you share one press release or event – share them all, over every social network you use. If you choose to automatically update Twitter via a feed for press releases, include additional tweets about news, events, or excerpts from specific news items (people like to hear from humans more than feeds). If you have a Facebook account be sure to stay on top of any questions asked over this channel, if you have YouTube and/or SlideShare accounts, you should take the opportunity to post an additional presentation or video with a relevant member of the company talking about a recent event such as a quarterly call to provide more context to help in the understanding of what it means to the company. Invest time in your profile pages on each social network: include a detailed company profile and link to your corporate website. You may also want to provide the name of the person responsible for administering the account and their contact information – this helps people know that there is an actual person /“official” spokesperson behind the account. Listen and monitor the conversation to see what is being said about your company and where – not only on the channels you are using, but on other networks such as wikis and social forums such as StockTwits or Seeking Alpha. Display the link(s) to your social networks on your corporate website in the Newsroom, IR or Contact Us sections. It may also help to list the social channels your company is using on other material such as press releases or corporate presentations. If your company has more than one social network account (for example, some companies have more than one Twitter account), mention which one is the “official” corporate account and list the other ones in your profile section. If you have a social network account dedicated to IR – proactively reach out to shareholders and ask them to submit questions for upcoming quarterly calls or the annual meeting. This is a good way to find out if you are dealing with any current or potential shareholders. 62 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  63. 63. Best Practices for Specific Social Media Channels Best Practices for Twitter Ensure the investor focused Twitter account is in sync with the corporate/investor website; content should be posted simultaneously to the website and Twitter. Include a detailed profile of your company and link to your corporate website as well as your background image with further information including the name of the person(s) tweeting on behalf of the company. If you have more than one Twitter account, clearly indicate what each account is used for – it is also helpful to indicate the person responsible for each one. Ensure that you use the channel consistently – if you tweet one press release tweet them all. Similarly, if you have posted specific IR-related material in the past i.e. notice of a conference call or an analyst day, ensure you do so each time. Also, it is always best practice to provide a link back to the associated material, especially if it is housed on your corporate or IR website. Having a separate Twitter account for IR is a good best practice as it helps followers keep track of all IR-related information by following one account. It also lets them know that they can ask IR-related questions on this specific account. And it helps your company monitor and stay on top of the questions they receive so they can use this information to update company material, messaging and FAQ’s. If you have a Twitter account dedicated to IR, be very clear that it is an ‘official’ IR account for the company. You should also let people know how they can submit questions; recommend providing the investor relations email address or another way they can get a hold of you or the main IR contact. If you live-tweet events, be sure to use specific #hashtags to help people who can’t take part in the live session and need to do a search later. We also recommend limiting the number of #hashtags in each tweet, as it can confuse the context of the message. Further, if you live-tweet your earnings, try and be consistent from one quarter to the next e.g. #eBayQ210. Twitter is limited to 140 characters, but at the very least a shortened disclaimer should be provided which links back to the full disclaimer (which should be housed on your website). Best Practices for Facebook Ensure the investor focused Facebook page is in sync with the corporate/investor website (or blog); content should be posted simultaneously to the website and Facebook. Provide a detailed company description as well as any other information your company would want current or potential shareholders to see. Include a link to your corporate/IR website and provide other relevant links i.e. an ‘information’ tab. Indicate this is the company’s official Facebook account, along with the contact name and their information so people know it’s a company-administered account. Use the channel to consistently provide information released over Reg FD channels and link them back, wherever possible to your corporate or IR website. 63 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  64. 64. Regularly monitor the channel to ensure that inquiries are being handled properly – particularly the discussion board. Spell out the ‘Terms of Use’ or ‘Discussions Policy’ – particularly for posted comments that are in poor taste, derogatory etc. and that the company has the right to remove such posts. We have seen one company demonstrate complete transparency by implementing a ‘removed posts board’ where offensive posts were removed and the reasons why were given. Provide your disclaimer (or a shortened version) linking back to the full disclaimer, which should be housed on your website. Use Facebook to post supplemental information about the company such as videos that showcase corporate assets or highlight community-related activities e.g. charitable events etc. If your company is getting a lot of IR-related or direct questions from shareholders, provide a synopsis of the information and inform people through other corporate social channels i.e. Twitter. Have a variety of tabs – that encompass various aspects of the business such as news, videos, careers/HR, employees etc. Providing a mosaic of information will help current and potential shareholders get the complete picture about the company. Best Practices for IR Blogs Provide insight into news, industry developments and the company – don’t just regurgitate information in press releases or other company materials. Use the blog to solicit questions from shareholders in advance of a company event such as a quarterly earnings call or annual meeting. Post videos, which will help provide additional commentary around company events such as a quarterly earnings call or annual meeting. Provide a “Discussions Policy” and the company’s disclaimer (or a link to where the disclaimer can be found on the company’s website.) Although not seen very often, posting the bio and avatar of the main contributor(s) to the blog can help companies give shareholders a more personal touch. It is also useful to provide contact information (even it is housed someplace else on the corporate or IR website) for the IR person/department. Best Practices for YouTube/SlideShare If your company is not currently using YouTube or SlideShare for IR (but are planning to do so in the future), go in and officially register your corporate account. While some third parties legitimately post real company information, having an ‘official’ account will help users find the ‘voice of authority’ on your company in these channels. If your company is using YouTube or SlideShare for IR, fill out your profile summary – this will also help people recognize the company’s official YouTube or SlideShare account. 64 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  65. 65. Even if you don’t use YouTube or SlideShare, you should actively monitor these sites – as you may discover a protest account. While we don’t advocate addressing every negative comment, knowing the account exists is important. Your social media policies should help you determine which negative comments need to be addressed and how best to do so. If you are using YouTube or SlideShare, be sure to repurpose the video e.g. embed it on your IR website and if you use other channels like Twitter, be sure to let your followers know you have posted a new video and provide a link. Similarly, if you have a Facebook account, we recommend having a separate ’YouTube/Video”’ or ‘SlideShare’ tab, which helps increase awareness of your company. Posting presentations on YouTube and SlideShare makes it easy for interested parties, such as the financial media, institutional and retail shareholders, to share company videos/presentations as the embed code is easily extracted and can be cut and pasted virtually anywhere. SlideShare now offers companies the option of customizing their account, which provides more control over the design of their channel. We have seen a few companies put links to the other social networks they are using on their SlideShare profile – this is a good practice, as it helps ensure that people know of other options where they can view company materials and engage with them. Best Practices for LinkedIn Company profiles are automatically populated on LinkedIn - so you should regularly monitor your company’s information to ensure it is correct. A new feature was recently launched by LinkedIn which allows anyone to follow a company and receive updates to any company changes such as personnel which reinforces the point to monitor the site to ensure accuracy of the information. In spite of LinkedIn’s limited use for IR, if your company has a presence there, get familiar with the channel and the information posted on your company – as more investors begin using the channel, you may receive questions about something they saw on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is evolving quickly and with the high number of professionals using this channel, it is likely that company specific services will continue to emerge. Our recommendation is to keep a close eye on the evolution of LinkedIn as it will only grow in importance to investor relations. 65 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010
  66. 66. Conclusion Since issuing our two whitepapers last year, which examined and analyzed early adopters who are using Twitter for IR, we continue to see an increase in the number of companies using this channel for investor relations – specifically we have found that 65% are now using it for IR, compared to the 35% we reported in Q3 2009. Additionally, we are also seeing increased adoption by public companies of other social networks in their investor relations programs including Facebook, blogs, YouTube and SlideShare. While we have not seen any companies specifically use LinkedIn for IR purposes, it is clear that it has emerged as an important channel that IR professionals need to understand. Findings from this study show that Twitter is used the most for investor-related material, followed by Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare and blogs: 65% use Twitter for investor-related material 37% use Facebook for investor-related material 29% use YouTube for investor-related material 10% use their corporate blog for investor-related material 10% use SlideShare for investor-related material 93% have a company page on LinkedIn Our findings suggest that the adoption of social media by public companies to augment their IR program is approaching a tipping point. All companies in this study are using social media to provide context about their company – not just press releases, but to announce strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, events such as participation in banking or industry-related conferences and quarterly conference calls to name a few. Although investor dialogue with companies is still low, the usage of replies, retweets and #hashtags by companies in our study is significant. As more public companies adopt these tools, we believe that investors will soon engage with companies through these channels. We will continue to monitor the companies included in this study and add to our research list as we strive to reveal how public companies are using social media for IR. It will be interesting to see how our findings evolve over the coming months and we look forward to providing you with our next update. Once again, we encourage you to review the appendices which includes complete details on all companies in the study, with links to each of the company‘s accounts. We invite you follow these companies on Twitter, look them up on Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare and LinkedIn and visit their corporate/IR website and their blog, where applicable. If your company is currently using a social network for IR or is just starting and we have not included you in this report, please follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/q4websystems, join the IR 2.0 Group on LinkedIn, become a Fan of Q4 on Facebook or email us at info@q4websystems.com and we’ll gladly add you to the list. 66 Q4 Whitepaper: Public Company Use of Social Media For Investor Relations - Summer 2010

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