18 Nov 2018
How to use social media to amplify your corporate performance to non-investor audiences.
Rowena Crowley, Senior Strategist
In our experience, investors don’t use social media to access information on results or annual reports – the corporate website will always be their first port of call. That doesn’t mean, however, that a company shouldn’t invest in social content to communicate their performance. Non-investor (and non-analyst) stakeholders are also a captive audience for this information, particularly employees, potential candidates, retail shareholders and customers. The perceptions of these stakeholders are impacted by a company’s performance and social media is an effective channel to reach and influence these audience.
We recently conducted an extensive piece of research to assess how companies are using social media to communicate their corporate performance, analysing:
- 40 companies from the US, UK and Europe
- 5 social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube)
- 500+ social media posts
- 74k+ interactions
The research produced fascinating insights into how social media can be used to amplify corporate messages to a wider audience. Our findings are divided into 7 areas:
Twitter, closely followed by LinkedIn, were the most popular for communicating results and annual report information. LinkedIn attracted by far the most engagement, with twitter a close second. Facebook was used far less than we expected – with only 8 companies in our sample opting to use this channel to communicate results or annual report information. YouTube was used mostly as a content repository and 83% of our sample did not use Instagram.
Most companies focused their social media activity around results. Typical content included performance statistics, quote cards and CEO videos. The quality of these varied, with many failing to consider the different audiences on social media and adapt content accordingly. Companies that stood out provided context for performance, explaining how they compared to the prior year, effectively integrated non-financial performance and kept posts simple, impactful, and to the point.
As expected, CEOs were the most prominent employee figures in the social content across our sample. We also saw some strong examples of employees (and ex-employees) endorsing their organisation by commenting, liking and sharing content from corporate social channels. Encouraging employees to engage with results or annual report content is a very authentic form of employee advocacy.
While 80% of our sample posted at least once about their annual results on one social channel or more, only 40% posted at least once about their annual reports and 18% of the sample didn’t post anything about either. The companies that excelled used a variety of formats to tell the story of their performance and had clearly planned out their content over a series of days.
Language and tone are often overlooked when it comes to company posts about results and annual reports. Most of the social content that we reviewed included a heavy dose of financial language. The most powerful content we reviewed had been created specifically for each social channel and employed storytelling techniques to provide the relevant context behind the numbers.
Visuals are one of the best ways to explain complex information in a digestible format, which is particularly relevant for financial communications, and help to support a narrative. For annual report posts, many companies simply posted a link to the report with a generic image which didn’t do much to entice users to read more. The research shows that leveraging a variety of visual styles across platforms to speak to audiences is an effective way to increase engagement levels.
Video was more commonly used to communicate results, rather than annual report releases. A ‘talking head’ style was most popular, with many companies producing CEO and executive management single-shot videos that focused on financial performance and appeared to be mostly targeted at an investor and press audience.
To sum up - an annual report shouldn’t be seen as a one-off communications piece – as a document of record that’s been through internal and external verification, the content is trustworthy and ideal to repurpose. Similarly, results offer a snapshot into a company’s performance and the story behind those results has relevance beyond one day. Social media helps amplify these messages to a wider audience and in a more digestible way than traditional investor communications, acting as a teaser by offering a summarised version of performance.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a full copy of the research, including a list of top scoring companies.