Corporate Eye

Successful Investor Relations Communications on Twitter

A well-followed and useful business Twitter strategy can be a powerful new investor relations tool for many companies. However, an unfocused, boring, and ignored Twitter feed will not only fail to provide new channels for shareholder communications, but will also drain resources that could be better utilized elsewhere. While the IR community is rife with admonishments about why you have to be using Twitter, it seems painfully lacking in information about just HOW Investor Relations should be using Twitter.

Get Twitter Followers By Being Follow-Worthy

When Twitter first came out it was widely regarded as a plaything for kids and certain kinds of Internet obsessed geeks. As Twitter’s potential became more widely recognized, more and more uses were found. These days, it is not uncommon for people from all levels of business to be involved with Twitter. However, those early days are not easily forgotten. Most interviews with high-ranking business people regarding Twitter include a semi-defensive cliché about how they “don’t tweet about what they had for dinner.”

As an IR professional of a publicly traded company, there are obviously some issues regarding what kind of information a company should not tweet, and what a business should tweet; we aren’t just talking about not telling people what you had for dinner last night, either.

Investor Relations professionals should already have a feel for the big red flags such as undisclosed material information. Only the most naïve IR person would post their company’s earnings ahead of the official disclosure and accompanying press releases, but there are plenty of other dangers that aren’t so obvious.

However, the biggest mistake you can make in developing your business’ Twitter strategy rollout is to unduly limit your tweets until they become either too sporadic, or too uninformative for anyone to care about. Otherwise, your Twitter campaign is no more useful than standing out in front of the building with a white board. Simply tweeting about your press releases might sound like a good strategy. However, tweeting links to press releases is the corporate version of telling everyone what you had for dinner last night.

Twitter isn’t about getting second hand news via a link to something you already told everyone somewhere else. To build up a useful number of followers on Twitter requires tailoring your strategy to the specific appetites of the Twitter microcosm.

So, just what do the users of Twitter want?

The answer to that question lies in the nature of Twitter itself. Remember that Twitter’s value is that it provides its users with an immediate, ongoing, brief, stream of information delivered directly to the user in real-time without any action being taken other than choosing to follow another Twitter member. Developing a useful and follow-able Twitter feed requires nothing more than incorporating those elements.

Keys To Successful Investor Relations Twitter Feed

Taking into account how Twitter works and what Twitters want generates a handful of rules for a successful corporate tweet strategy.

5 Keys To Good IR Twitter Tweets

1. Tweet Now – Immediate information is the cornerstone of Twitter’s value proposition. Don’t tweet tomorrow about today’s news.

2. Tweet Often – Engaging followers requires feeding the beast. Tweet every business day.

3. Tweet Short – The big power of Twitter requires getting re-tweets. Leave enough room for the “standardized” RT @ information.

4. Tweet Value – Whatever you tweet, make sure it matters to someone besides the people on the org chart.

5. Tweet Community – Twitter isn’t a lecture; it’s a conversation.

At first glance, the keys to the best IR Twitter feeds can seem daunting. How would event the best IR group come up with useful, real-time, information, on a daily basis?

While Tweet Community is the fifth element of good IR Twitter usage, it is also the most important secret to success with Twitter by not only Investor Relations, but corporations, and businesses as well.

The reason a daily tweet seems so daunting is because, most IR professionals are used to one-way communications. That is, investor relations creates a press release or other investor materials and then distributes those to investors and potential investors. Any feedback comes in the form of phone calls, emails, letters, or even articles published in the media. In other words, IR talks, the others reply.

With Twitter, things are very different. The IR Department using Twitter will, of course, make tweets of their own accord, but the real value in maintaining an active presence on Twitter is interacting with other Twitter users. Read beyond the headlines of all those articles out there proclaiming that your company must be on Twitter and you’ll find that the examples they cite about Twitter’s power aren’t about sending out coupons or linking to your press releases. The examples all relate to engaging the user community on Twitter by answering questions, reading reactions, providing useful information, and so on.

It all adds up to the best investor relations strategy for Twitter not being creating great tweets, but rather, responding to other user’s tweets. Answer not only the questions you get directly, but also those that are posted by users as a broadcast or “open-letter” type of tweet. Respond to innuendo and suggestive tweets publicly before they can turn into “facts” by repetition alone. Don’t forget to ask questions too! Ask what people want to see more of, what they want to see less of, what they think has value, and what they think is nothing but a waste of energy.

While it may start out small, a useful corporate Twitter account will grow quickly adding lots of followers, sometimes in spurts, and sometimes in a trickle. Either way, a few months down the road, the question won’t be how can we possibly come up with one useful tweet per day, it will be how can we possibly tweet only once per day?

Potential Legal Trouble – Twitter and Investor Relations

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Brian is a small business owner, consultant and freelance writer. Brian began his professional career in the computer industry as a consultant where he became keenly aware of the internal workings of companies from Fortune 100 giants to small two-man shops. While working with a mutual fund company, Brian developed a strong interest in finance and became a Certified Financial Planner. As a financial professional, Brian specialized in working with small business owners. Brian is the co-founder of ArcticLlama, LLC a premier business writing and consulting firm. He also runs a real world personal finance blog. Brian lives in Denver with his wife and daughter.
 
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