Greig King, Account Coordinator, Investor Communication
For any ASX-listed company, ignoring social media is no longer a credible option. The idea of “should we or shouldn’t” we be on social media needs to be replaced by “when and where do we respond?”.
Successfully engaging on social media can increase the effective reach of investor communication to potential investors as well as enhance your engagement with existing and potential institutional and retail shareholders. Proactive social media use can also increase traffic to your corporate website and be a vital component in crisis communications.
At the very least, by engaging on social media, ASX-listed companies have the opportunity to improve control of their company’s messaging and demystify brand perceptions.
So how do companies begin to leverage social media for investor relations?
Here is a basic step-by-step plan any company should consider before engaging on social media.
1. Conduct a social media review
To join in any conversation, you need to know what is currently being said about you. Review search terms on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn that directly relate to your company – Twitter ‘Cashtags’ make this extremely simple to track what people are saying about your company. Assess the sentiment of post – are they positive or negative – and who the main influencers are that your audience listens to.
2. Set up company pages or accounts on social media platforms
You can’t engage with your target groups if you don’t exist online. Make sure you set up pages for your company on Twitter and LinkedIn (and Facebook if you are a consumer-facing brand) in preparation for engagement.
3. Monitor the discussions and maintain continuous ASX disclosure
As suggested in the ASX Guidance Note 8, companies are now required to monitor social media for potential leaks of market sensitive information and maintain continuous disclosure rules. All market sensitive information is required to be released to the ASX prior to being promoted on social media, in line with the same disclosure guidelines.
The guidelines also encourage the monitoring of social media channels to address ‘fake news’ that may have a market impact or speculation in media and analyst reports, to correctly adhere to the same regulations on continuous disclosure.
Failing to do so can have a severe financial impact for the individual and company who fail to abide by these regulations.
4. Create a company-wide social media policy
This needs to outline what, how and when you will share. This should also include a workflow and assign responsibilities. Things like your company size and sector as well as key audiences and their expectations will dictate the policy.
Included in this, should be a crisis management plan or post, closely aligned with your traditional communication channels. Think about what could possibly go wrong and plan for how to respond.
5. Use a different content approach for individual channels
Each social channel serves a different purpose and you need to communicate on them in the way your target groups interact with that platform. For example:
Twitter: is uniquely positioned to engage investors in that it can enhance a company’s ability to address a crisis or disseminate all types news effectively. Twitter should be used to link to relevant content on your website as well as 3rd party websites.
LinkedIn: can also be used to share thought leadership pieces and communicate key investor information directly to shareholders and key customers. LinkedIn can also be used to profile a company and the executive team.
Facebook: is better suited to consumer and culture-focused posts regarding the company, rather than financial or investment information.
6. Monitor what’s being said
Social media analysis will help you measure public sentiment toward your organisation and stock performance. You need to remain across what’s being said about your brand and your wider industry to not only ensure you are keeping up with news but also to monitor potential issues.
7. Measure and evaluate your performance
Track how your content performs to help guide future content. If you find certain types of content or posting at particular times drives the best engagement, try to do more of that.
Additionally, companies shouldn’t be afraid to engage on other specialised investor forums – specifically platforms such as HotCopper; of nearly out of nearly 2,000 ASX-listed organisations, only 19 companies have an approved company page. Most C-level and marketing departments are keen to dismiss the site, and others like it, but the reality is that stakeholders discuss your company on these forums. You have the opportunity to directly influence the conversation and market perceptions by engaging with the platform.
Effective social media needs to be a major part of any investor relations engagement strategy and failing to utilise such an opportunity will have resounding detrimental effects for any ASX-listed company.