Social Media During Critical Events

Why communications departments should remain social during major transactions

Investor relations and communications professionals can be hesitant about sharing information through social media during critical events such as mergers, acquisitions, or take-overs. But time does not stand still and as financial communication evolves to incorporate mediums such as Twitter and financial blogs, the risks involved with disengaging from social networks during crises outweigh the perceived challenges of social media use.

For one, a sense of distrust and anxiety can settle in when a public company remains quiet on social media during sensitive times. Investors, as well as the general public are becoming accustomed to using social media as a news source and by abandoning your social presence during critical events you risk communicating disorder, secrecy, and disrespect. Succinct and informative content coming from a company's official Twitter handle in real time is an effective way to disseminate information and to increase transparency. Even by something as simple as posting a link to a press release along with a few supporting words you are offering your online audience a more personal invitation to pay attention to the transaction and to help shape minds. This quick process allows you to access to a broader audience and to position your company as forward thinking and approachable.

It is also essential to monitor social networks when your company is in the spotlight due to M&A activity. Stay aware of the social sentiment relative to your company and to the key stakeholders involved. Only by listening in on social chatter are you able to stay on top of messaging and maintain control of the conversations concerning your company.

Financial communication is no longer just about pushing out numbers and facts. It is a social process that requires accountability, open communication, and engagement. Social media offers you a platform to do this. Stephanie Harig, an Account Executive with Dix & Eaton, wrote a series of best practices that are helpful for investor relations professionals who are looking for additional guidance in this area. Below is a summary of her suggestions:

1. Start before you need it

Establish a social media presence early so that the online investing community will know where to look for information regarding your company's upcoming transaction. Having a history of honest and informative published content will also add to your credibility and result in greater influence when necessary.

2. Know what is being said about your company

Monitor social media networks and stay alert of misinformation or rumors so that you can be quick to respond and steer conversations back on track.

3. Post links and content from news releases

Include a quote from your news release alongside a link to the document. This is an easy way to personalize the message without having to worry about accidental regulation missteps.

4. Supplement with additional content where you can

Consider various mediums such as video, images, and conference calls. Provide your audience with a comprehensive resource supply by re-sharing old content related to the transaction when needed.