With apologies to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I don’t think the point about social media integration can be made often enough.
This afternoon, Darrell Heaps of Q4 Web Systems, Matthew Lehman of Progressive Insurance and myself will be participating in a panel about social media and investor relations for NIRI Cleveland. As I was preparing for the presentation, I realized that there aren’t many examples of companies using social media for investor relations effectively. Sure, there are companies like eBay that are “live-tweeting” their analyst days and Microvision opening up their corporate blog to questions before an earnings call, but these examples are few and far between. Instead of using social media as truly a “social” tool, many public companies are using networks like Twitter as mass media to blast out earnings releases. Not only is that not effective, but it really is a waste of time for the company. If I wanted your earnings release, or other corporate announcement, I’d subscribe to an RSS feed on your Web site. I don’t need Twitter for that.
So why aren’t there many good social media and IR examples? I think we could point to many reasons, but most people point to regulation as the key burden. It is true, there are a lot of rules and regulations that public companies need to follow, but I don’t think that’s the only reason we don’t see many good IR and social media examples. To me, the larger point is that, in most cases, the investor relations function isn’t in sync with the PR and marketing folks. For social media to be effective, regardless of communications discipline, we know that integration with the other parts of the business is critical. Sales, marketing, PR, internal communications, among others, need to be working in harmony for social media to be its most effective for any company, let alone the public ones. When IR is treated less as a compliance function, and more as an extension of the marketing efforts, we may see more successful IR and social media case studies.
Anyway, that’s just my take. What’s yours?