BY SHERYL JOYCE 17 JANUARY 2013 2 COMMENTS
Over the past four years, we have conducted research on public company use of social media for IR. We have made some interesting discoveries and uncovered some emerging trends. For example, Twitter is the most widely used channel to share investor-related information. The most common use of Twitter is linking to previously disclosed material that resides on a company’s IR website. Common information being tweeted includes press releases, quarterly financial releases, company news, presentations and much more.
However, since issuing our first report in 2009, we have found new examples of maturing and integrated approaches to social media use for IR. Such as live-tweeting quarterly calls, annual meetings and analyst days. As well as proactively engaging followers with direct questions and responding to investor-type questions. You can read more about these examples here: http://www.q4blog.com/2012/06/25/new...er-stocktwits/.
As companies social media use becomes more sophisticated and see a marked increase in their own Twitter activity, more and more companies are adding targeted Twitter accounts. One emerging trend we are seeing on this front is an account dedicated to investors. The rationale being that it helps followers weed out the information they don’t require.
Some of the companies leading the way on this front include BASF, CGI, Cliffs Natural Resources, Dell, and SAP to name a few. Recently, WWE reached 11,000+ followers on their @WWEinvestor account. So we thought we’d reach out to them to find out their objectives for using social media, how they are interacting on their investor account and how they measure success.
Of note, of the 809 companies that we track in our research, only 15 companies have a dedicated Twitter account for investor relations. The top 10 (ranked in order of followers as of January 17, 2013) are: WWE (11,152); Dell (5,228); CGI (2,726); SAP (2,369); BASF (2,112); WEG S.A. (1,599); Tecnisa (1,255); Thyssen Krupp (1,184); Cliffs NR (1,024); and in the number 10 spot: Erste Group Bank (388).
What follows is the first part of our interview with Michael Weitz, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Financial Planning. Our talk with Michael was very informative as he gave us a run down of their early days using social media, how they have been able to amass the following they currently have and what their goals are for the future. In the portion of the interview that we are sharing today, Michael outlines what drove his department to embrace social media for IR and how they managed to gain such a large following.
… in a world where information travels faster and faster, being proactive about controlling your message is important. As is often cited, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes. So at least put on your running shoes and get active with social media! – Michael Weitz, SVP, IR & Financial Planning, WWE, Inc.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and WWE
As an SVP with WWE, I lead the Company’s Financial Planning & Investor Relations – and have been in this role since early 2006.
My experience at WWE builds on approximately 15 years as a financial executive in Media & Entertainment, including work with Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner.
2. How long has WWE being using social media?
As a Company, WWE began using social media in 2007, initiating a presence on Facebook, followed by Twitter and YouTube to communicate with our global fan base.Our belief was that social media was transforming the way companies communicate with their various constituencies and we wanted to be on the forefront of changing the way we communicate. We also saw it as critical to the future success of the company in terms of another platform to continue our storylines and further develop characters beyond traditional TV and media.Since then, our presence in social media has grown at a staggering rate.Today, WWE has more than 89 million Facebook fans (+89% in 2012) and more than 40 million (+158% in 2012) Twitter followers. In total, we have 132 million combined social media followers across 10 social media networks. Our Superstar, John Cena, has more than 14M fans and is the 3rd most followed American athlete (behind only Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant). According to Trendrr, a company that measures social media influence, our flagship program Raw was consistently within the top 5 most influential entertainment programs on cable in 2012.Following in the footsteps of our broader brand/consumer initiatives, we initiated our social media for Investor Relations in July 2012. And, we have seen some remarkable growth for a dedicated IR program. Today our WWE Investor channel has more than 11,000 Twitter followers and more than 700 Facebook likes.
3. What tool did you begin using first and why?
Before doing anything, we conducted a study of “leading IR practices,” reading every article we could find from NIRI, Q4 WEB Systems, the Wall Street Journal and others – to determine what other companies were doing, and also to evaluate what the best practices for WWE would be.
As we implemented our social media program, we focused on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube because these were widely used and best fit with our goal of building awareness of WWE among the widest audience possible.Additionally, we felt these vehicles held the most immediate utility for investors. Of those platforms, we believe Twitter is the most heavily used in the investment community. Most analysts see it as a live news feed of all of the important developments going on in your company (and industry).
4. Using Twitter to promote the WWE seems like a logical thing to do. What prompted you to branch out and have a dedicated Investor account?
There were two primary determinants of implementing a dedicated investor account: (1) The first was to be able to target our interaction with investors and to enhance our communication with them regarding company developments, strategy and financial performance but NOT to burden our entertainment fan base with this information. (2) The second was expedience. We viewed WWE’s expanding presence in social media as a mandate for almost all of our businesses and we wanted to move quickly, very quickly.We should point out that in our review of “best practices” the execution of a dedicated channel stood out; the example set by SAP was also something that we looked at quite a bit.Long-term, we would like to integrate our IR channel, WWE Investor, with other corporate communication.
5. You have quite a large following on the investor account. How did you garner such a following?
As we launched our social media program for IR, one of my most significant concerns was that of a party host, namely that no one would show up.
For a company with an established brand presence in social media, we thought the potential lack of investor participation could be seen as a sign of failure in communicating our company message.With that in mind, we designed a systematic program to build our social media base for WWEinvestor.
First, we communicated our sites to employees and encouraged them to like and follow our WWEInvestor channels. We offered some Apple rewards and nearly 100 employees signed up to like and follow the channels. Second, we distributed a business wire release to communicate the launch officially.
Thirdly, we reached out to analysts, investors to make sure that were aware of this new communication channel.The good thing was that at that point, the party had started. As we started to Tweet and share information, our following has grown by about 2,000 followers per month. Finally, we have placed our social media information/links on everything: our investor presentation, business cards, and e-mail signatures, etc.
Please be on the look out for the second part of our Interview with Michael Weitz as he walks us through how the WWE Investor Relations program maintains its social media presence and what some of their goals are for the future of their social communications.