June 25, 2014
Social media is definitely a hot topic in the investor relations community these days. Often, live-tweeting features prominently in these discussions – and there are many companies doing a great job with live-tweeting earnings calls, investor/analyst days, etc. But if you’ve never live-tweeted an event, it can be daunting, especially for investor relations professionals who are short-handed and worried about Reg FD, among other things.
With that in mind, here’s a quick 10-point checklist to guide you when live-tweeting for investor relations:
1) Choose your channel (but also cross-promote)
If you are live-tweeting, you don’t need to also post live updates to Facebook, for example, but you could let Facebook followers know that you are live-tweeting. Post a link to your Twitter page on Facebook the day of the event for interested users.
2) Draft tweets ahead of time
Social media for IR shouldn’t be an afterthought. Rather, it should be part of your overall communications strategy. This means tweets around an earnings call or investor day should be developed alongside the scripts and presentations, and can easily be developed in advance.
3) Incorporate a “cashtag” into the tweets – and maybe a hashtag
Cashtags link all the conversations about your company, and are used especially by the financial community. Using the cashtag (i.e, FedEx’s cashtag is $FDX) will help you influence the conversation already happening about your company. Also consider creating an event-specific hashtag as well to make your event-specific posts easier to find (i.e., Zillow uses #Zearnings for all of its earnings calls).
4) Check tweets for tone
Keep tweets informative, but also make sure the tweets match the tone of your company and leadership team. You want your content infused with the culture and style of your company. Remember that live-tweeting is supposed to help your company’s messaging be more accessible and less formal, like it’s coming from a person rather than a company, so try to avoid corporate-speak or stilted language.
5) Images, images, images
Tweets with images are more interesting than tweets without them. Enough said. That’s one reason why it’s good to develop tweets in advance (see #2) – you will then have time to plan which images you want to post. That said, image quality matters a lot – you’re better off without images than with poor quality ones.
6) Secure necessary approvals – in advance
Tweets should be subjected to the same internal approval process as IR-related press releases, scripts and other communications.
7) Publicize that you are live-tweeting ahead of the event
Let followers know you are going to be live-tweeting before the event actually starts, but not until you have approval (see #6) – you don’t want to be forced to go back on your word.
8) Post when you’re starting and stopping the live-tweeting
Have a kickoff tweet (followed shortly thereafter by your safe harbor and GAAP reconciliation statements!) and a concluding tweet, so your followers know what to expect and can follow along more easily.
9) Tweet your safe harbor
Disclosure on Twitter is just as serious as disclosure on your earnings calls and press releases. Tweet your safe harbor and non-GAAP to GAAP reconciliation statements – or a link to them, per recent SEC guidelines – before you start live-tweeting. There’s no reason not to do so.
10) Maintain flexibility
Yes, you have all the tweets drafted – but what if your CEO or CFO starts speaking off the cuff? Be ready to hold back planned tweets or reorder them. The person responsible for posting the tweets should follow along live to make sure the live-tweeting reflects the actual presentation.