Dear Abby: Why do IROs shun social media?

Dear Abby star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

‘Dear Abby’ Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo Credit: wikipedia.com)

Social media have been a part of our lives long before the advent of the Internet.  When our ancestors used ochre, hematite, charcoal and other materials to paint their triumphs and tragedies on cave walls and ceilings, they were engaging in social media.
 
When ancient Egyptians carved elaborate scenes on vases, amulets and pots, they were engaging in social media.
 
And when Pauline Phillips established her “Dear Abby” advice column in 1956, she was engaging in social media.
 
Media have always been social.  The difference today is that the Internet speeds up the dissemination of information, which is often repurposed and then dubbed “social” when it’s tweeted or published on a blog, YouTube or Facebook.   The challenge for professional communicators is harnessing the speed and power of the Internet to communicate effectively.
 
In the investor relations world, many professionals do not believe that today’s social media outlets establish effective lines of communication.  The proof:  84 percent of IROs do not use social media to communicate with their constituents, according to a Thomson Reuters survey due out this week.
 
I understand that IR folks, including myself, are more cautious about embracing social media because so many of the facts and figures we work with require adherence to strict disclosure procedures.   But that shouldn’t stop us from tapping into social media for other purposes, including the reinforcement of messaging and establishing dialogue with customers, shareholders and even employees.
 
As communications professionals, it serves in our best interest to understand how social media can be utilized to communicate more effectively with different audiences.  For example, London-based Derwent Capital runs a hedge fund that relies on Twitter for investment direction. StockTwits, which my colleague, Matt Sheldon, wrote about nearly six months ago, continues to garner more credibility in investor circles.
 
The bottom line is that human civilization has come a long way since relying on granite, clay and, yes, newsprint, to facilitate the flow of information.  Don’t you think it’s about time that IROs do the same?

 

Evan Pondel, epondel@pondel.com
 
 

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