Mark Hynes - thoughts on corporate disclosure

Opinions on changing rules, changing best practices, and their effect on investor relations officers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Social media – why haven’t IR embraced it?

Can I try something out on you?

Why does the social networking revolution seem to have been largely ignored by the IR community? Apart from the occasional excellent blog, and some online YouTube annual reports, companies and their IR teams seem not to want to use the social media.

I only ask because IR people – in my experience – are the most excellent networkers. They have to be able to keep up with large communities of investors, maintaining the changes and managing the flow of information. Therefore ignoring the tools of networking seems to me to miss an opportunity.

Maybe its because the social media are simply about individual investors? After all, they largely rely on traditional media, annual reports and corporate websites to get whatever they need. However there is a movement in the US, which seems to me to be creating a new breed of investor; neither institutional nor ‘retail’.

Social media has created a suite of – largely free - tools which allows these investors to manage their portfolios in new ways. There is a terrific blog New Rules of Investing which describes some of these.

The word ‘free’ is important. The current discussions going on between the FT and Blackstone on the use of multiple accesses to FT content through one paid for password, seems to highlight the potential for paid for media to be replaced by free, social media, research and tools created by and for this new breed of investor. They share information about companies and trade on the back of these. Aside from those mentioned in the above blog, is an example of what’s happening in the Twitter world.

If these services are as good as they seem, individual investors will by-pass traditional media – the target of IR programmes – and influence stock prices directly between themselves. Aside from being a missed opportunity, it may also be a risk in allowing unanswered criticisms.

I’d be really interested to know whether investor relations IS using these tools to share the company’s equity story – and I simply haven’t seen it, or whether this is an opportunity created in the US, which may be coming to the UK soon.


  • At 7:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks Mark for the nice comment about

    Your analysis is spot on. Like the site.


  • At 9:23 pm, Anonymous Lucy said…

    This is a good question: the nearest I've seen is @dellshares, which is broadcast only (no conversation), and is only the headlines from the IR blog.

    IBM used Twitter Hashtags for a Leadership conference. Not IR, I know, but it does demonstrate that it can be done.(#IBMbplc08)

    If you find a company using two-way Twitter for IR, please let me know as I'd be really interested!

  • At 9:00 am, Blogger Mark Hynes said…

    Thanks Zack and Lucy, appreciate the feedback!

  • At 5:33 pm, Blogger globalwriter said…

    Hi Mark. trust all is well.
    People are going to think I cribbed from you, but I like the idea that great minds, etc. You will shortly see that my "Letter from America" in upcoming IRS UPDATE is on this very subject.
    One citation in my piece is how Canadian Dominic Jones is all over this and recommending his clients get up to date. And he just posted the best example of what is happening -- mind-blowing! It is here:

    Best regards, Mike

    Mike Reilly
    Principal - GLOBALWRITERS
    -- Storytelling, pro writing and editing --
    01 631 669 1020
    SKYPE: globalwriter


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