Social Media Readiness Checklist for Investor Relations
13 January 2012
We have many conversations with IROs and often get asked: how do I get started with social media? What?s the ROI? How much time is needed to keep the channels populated with content? What are the risks?
All of the aforementioned are important considerations. A recent article I read posed 6 questions for companies to think about before getting into social media: http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/01/social-media-ready.html.
The article was not necessarily public company specific, but I thought the ideas presented would be valuable to share with IROs. That said, I?m going to reiterate the ideas the author presents as I feel it applies to IR. As well as some further thoughts to ponder from an IR standpoint. Please note all of the text in bold is verbatim.
1.?Do you have a clear reason for being in social media? Before you spend time in social media, ask yourself:
- What are you hoping to get from your participation?
- What business goals do you want to achieve through social media?
It is not uncommon for marketing or advertising departments to start using social media first. If another department is using social media, ask them what their experience has been and dovetail off of the objectives and goals they have put in place to formulate IR-specific ones.
2. Do you have any reasons for not using social media to improve communications with your shareholder base and improve awareness for your company? (as recommended by one of our many good friends and IR pros @TrevorHeisler).
I think this is a good addition to the checklist. ?As it will foster a balanced conversation and help bring issues to the surface. This would be a good thing to discuss with management and legal to table everyone’s opinions and openly address all concerns.
3. Do you know which social media sites are for you? For your specific purpose?
Again, if another department in your company is using social media, have a discussion with them. You may very well find out that just because your marketing department has had success with a particular channel, doesn’t mean it?s the right channel to share investor-related information.
You should also check out whether your peers are using social media, paying particular attention to their preferred channels and the information they are sharing on these channels. It is also important to see if the company is engaging with their followers/friends as it will help you get a sense of the kind of conversations (if any) that are taking place.
The author goes on to advise to ?check your analytics to see which social media sites are already sending you traffic.? Monitoring is an important aspect of a successful communications plan. So if you aren?t listening to what is being said about your company, you should be. Of course if you (or another department) are already monitoring discussions about your company, you should make sure that the online ones are included.
4. Do you have resources to continue the investment? Social media is an ongoing process. If you?re not going to stick with it, don?t waste time starting it.
Once you decide to sign up for a particular channel ? there is no ?set it and forget? aspect, so make sure you have an internal discussion of who is going to be the key content person. (It?s also important to have another person trained on using the channel, in the event the main person is unable to do so.)
In addition to populating the channel, the key content person would also be in charge of monitoring the channel and answering any questions. Regular monitoring will also help the company correct any misinformation being shared.
5. Have you carved out a social pipeline? What are you going to do with the information gleaned from social media? If someone approaches you about a customer service issue or makes a recommendation for a new product or feature, do you have a process for how you?ll quickly get that information to the right person on your team so it can be used? Before you enter social media, create that workflow or pipeline for how you?ll disseminate social media information internally. It will help ensure that you?re getting the most value possible from your social media investment.
When it comes to IR, you need to be aptly prepared to deal with questions. If another department in your company uses social media, then it is wise to have a procedure in place where any investor-related questions get re-routed to the IR point of contact in a timely manner.
6. Is there a social media plan on record? When jumping in the water, make sure you grab the life vest known as your social media policy! Your social media policy is an internal document that helps a business to navigate the social media waters. It breaks down rules for engagement, how to handle common occurrences, what you?ll do when negative mentions appear, how to start conversations, how to use the different networks, etc. It?s vital to the success of any campaign and I wouldn?t recommend any business enter social media without it.
We often get asked for examples of companies who have social media policies. Here are a few links you may find useful:
Compliance Building website: http://www.compliancebuilding.com/about/publications/social-media-policies/
Social Media Governance website: http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php#axzz1jM4WAdnK
7. Can you measure it? Remember, social media is a tool, it?s not a destination. You want to measure your use of social media just like you would measure anything else you?re doing as part of your communications efforts. Based on your initial goal for social media the metrics you use to judge success may differ from others, and that?s okay. You may choose to track Facebook Likes, ReTweets, change in sentiment, number of mentions, engagement, etc. What?s important is that you?ve decided which metrics are important to your business and that you?re using social media tools to help measure them.
Is there anything missing from this checklist? Let me know in the comments.