There have been many case studies that have shown the importance and value of leveraging social media in your communications strategy, and now thanks to the results from a new study conducted by NATIONAL Public Relations and the AMO network, we can see how important it is to the investor community. According to the data, a majority of institutional investors around the world said social media will grow in importance as an investor relations tool, even though seldom consulted today by investment professionals. The data further reveals that 56 per cent of institutional investors say they consider social media to be “not yet significant but growing in importance” as a professional tool for investors.
Over a third (37 per cent) said that social media – including investment forums and blogs – were a welcome innovation making news dissemination more direct and rapid. And 33 per cent also said that they consider such sites to be a useful “heads up”, especially during exceptional times such as takeover bids or proxy fights.
Asked which sites they visit most often for professional purposes, those interviewed indicated investment forums (39 per cent said frequently or very frequently), followed by LinkedIn (34 per cent) and investment and financial services blogs (32 per cent). Only 22 per cent said they consulted Twitter frequently or very frequently for professional purposes, compared with 10 per cent for Facebook.
A clear majority of the institutional investors surveyed said they considered the main newswires to still be their main source of investor information, consulted very frequently by 76 per cent of investors. The investors who were surveyed consistently ranked the newswires as more reliable than other news sources such as newspapers, radio & TV or social media. 87 per cent said the newswires were always or usually reliable, compared with just 17 per cent for social media sites.
But even if they do not consult the sites often or find them reliable, only a small number of the investors dismissed social media outright, with just 17 per cent describing it as irrelevant to their work.
The new survey, which covered 105 institutional investors in 12 countries managing a total US$3.83 trillion, was carried out by the AMO network to help investor relations executives at listed companies determine how to adapt their IR strategies to the digital age.
“The AMO survey shows that investor relations professionals should be examining how to incorporate or expand their social media capabilities to reach institutional investors. Today, investors are skeptical of the value of the information conveyed using these tools but there is widespread recognition that they will become increasingly important,” said Peter Block, Practice Lead of NATIONAL’s Financial Communications group in Toronto.
“Social media need not be intimidating, excessively time consuming or a risk of violating securities rules. It should be viewed as an extension of an IR program, which already responds to inquiries and engages in discussions with its investors.”
In fact, social media can be particularly beneficial for small to mid-sized companies which traditionally have more difficulty getting the attention of analysts and mainstream media. A recent University of Michigan and Stanford University study found that dissemination of news via Twitter was associated with lower bid-ask spreads and enhanced liquidity.
“We know many IR professionals in Canada are already using a wide range of social media tools to reach investors. Those that are not should see the AMO results as a call to action,” concluded Peter Block.