Establish a Game Plan
Before starting anything it's a good idea to spend some time contemplating where you'd like to end up. According to Anna Irrera, Online Reporter for Financial News, developing a game plan prior to launching a social media endeavor should be number one on your list of considerations. Keeping a defined goal in mind is a crucial part of establishing an effective social media presence. Make a prioritized list of what you would like to accomplish with this new medium. Ask yourself if you are focusing on acquiring new investors, strengthening engagement with current stakeholders, or strictly managing risk. Consider more creative uses as well. For example, Twitter is great for research purposes as an easy way to learn about your stakeholders' opinions and concerns. It can also be a useful facilitator for conversation or information dissemination during live events such as earnings calls and annual meetings.
Consider Multiple Accounts
Reflecting on the many possibilities for twitter, it is common for companies to try to accomplish too many goals with one twitter account. Yet another reason why planning is key. Remember, you may have various target audiences and therefore require multiple twitter accounts. Dell has done an excellent job of differentiating between audiences and creating accounts that cater to each of them. For official news about the company you can reach out to @Dell but they also maintain multiple separate accounts for technical support as well as a stream dedicated to IR.
Know and Follow Regulations
As an IR professional you are aware of the strict policy around communication and you can probably guess as to how that translates into social media. Don't! Do your research prior to establishing an account and sending that first tweet. Once you feel comfortable with what is and isn't acceptable, ensure everyone else whose twitter accounts are affiliated with your company are onboard. Establish a company policy that includes steps for social media delivery. Consider including a "gatekeeper" who approves all messages before publication and/or draft templates as examples of acceptable content.
Lastly, decide on a disclaimer message to protect your company from danger as you explore this new medium. A disclaimer can take multiple forms. Many public companies' corporate accounts include a disclaimer or a link to a safe harbor message embedded directly in their bios. Others will display this detail on their twitter homepage (as an image) where it is less obnoxious but also more easily missed. EBay address the issue with an entirely different approach. They are known to send out tweets like this one prior to their earnings calls.
Create a Secure Password.
Hackers are a serious threat to any well-established finance tweeter. The ability to tweet a message that has the power to affect the stock market creates a huge incentive for clever programmers who may see the possibility for financial gain. For example, earlier this year, a false tweet from the Associate Press written by a hacker caused a 143-point fall in the Dow Jones industrial average. Credible accounts with large followings especially in the finance sector, are a prime target for these transgressions.
Build an Informative Profile.
After taking the necessary precautions outlined above, your next step is to create a profile. Use a handle that is easy to recognize and clearly presents your purpose. A short description of either your company or the IR division specifically should also be included. Lastly, add a link to your website address in your bio. Your website should also include a link to your twitter account or better yet, embed your twitter feed directly into your webpage.
You are now ready to enjoy the benefits of bringing your IR practices into the online social network. For more information on starting a social media campaign check out Finmaven's earlier blog post"Introduction to Social Media"