It is clear that many people in the stock promo/IR business are all over Web 2.0 technology, the awareness level regarding use of the tools and platforms is about near ZERO though. Now there are not many people around to even know if it is done right or wrong… Over time though, Web 2.0 will be deemed a failure because for now, it is being treated by promo/IR as the next big thing. It is the latest fad… It is a way for the people stuck in the Web 1.0/IR 1.0 world to make a quick buck before they have to find something else to do.
Every day it seems that I get an email from a stock promotional entity saying something to the effect that they have a new Web 2.0 site and they are giving investors and companies a platform to engage… blah blah blah.
I have yet to see it done right…
Here are some examples of what I have seen:
Twitter: Everyone is going to Twitter, signing up and tweeting away to their heart’s content. Stock promoters and IR people are going to Twitter and setting up multiple accounts and broadcasting a message and/or having conversations with themselves about stocks. The convention on Twitter is using the “$” in front of the ticker symbol. It is easy to follow Twitter conversations and track down those doing this sort of thing. One doesn’t even need to be particularly smart to figure this out. A simpler example is people opening a Twitter account to broadcast messages regarding their business, their stock or what have you. As I have said so many times: Twitter, like many social media platforms and tools is a place for conversations. The word “conversation” implies two way communication. Broadcasting about your company or your stock is not an effective way to use Twitter.
However, these types (some IR and promo) are telling their client and prospective client companies that they can get them mentioned and talked about on Twitter… I suppose they can but… again, I have said many times, people are not buying stocks anymore; they are buying companies and brands.
Twitter is good about suspending accounts of spammers; however, most people that understand social media well are moving to FriendFeed or other SM platforms. FriendFeed allows you to screen conversations easily. On Twitter, it seems that information and content is overlooked anymore… it’s all about getting followers. Remember the stock market, real estate, and oil bubbles? One rule that always works: When everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, it’s time to leave and find another way… I guarantee you this is true of Twitter… All the smart people are getting out or are already out… I can see the headline now: “The Great Twitter Bubble of 2009”
Followers on Twitter will not ensure anyone will buy your stock. In many cases, having a lot of followers is like having a bulk email list of people that have little or no interest in investing in penny stocks. There will be a few in any list to be sure but by in large, a large Twitter followership means nothing anymore. Having a good company with good products and/or services and a good Web 2.0 plan will likely give you far better results business-wise as well as increase your shareholder base.
“Web 2.0 Websites”
Another example that I am seeing a lot is entities (IR and promotional) setting up websites that are supposedly Web 2.0. Many of them are indeed CMS (Content Management Systems) which allow the site administrators to set up blogs and other interactive ways of communicating. One site I saw today boasted of new Web 2.0 technology but had no blog, hosted their one and only video themselves on their site, had no names or pictures of anyone on the site. This is exactly the point; Web 2.0 is an open and transparent web…
Over the years I have been in this business, the overwhelming tendency of many people in the “business” of providing services to publicly traded companies did not want anyone to know who they were much less put up a picture of themselves anywhere.
My question is: If you are in a business that you need to remain in the shadows and never be seen, exactly what sort of business are you in anyhow?
If you are in business these days and you are not creating content, commenting on content, innovating and putting your name and picture (including video) on everything you do, you ARE NOT building your brand and you ARE NOT building any credibility.
If you want to succeed in this new world, you better be figuring out how to build your brand and doing it for all to see. Then the question is – What if I make a mistake; what if I screw up? No big deal; acknowledge it, fix it and move on. Even Google screws up from time to time and they are the king of the Internet. But as Jeff Jarvis said so well in his book, What Would Google Do? Google makes mistakes well. They acknowledge, fix and proceed.
So, until we get the free webinar up and running (and we will) here are the rules of Investor Relations 2.0:
1. First and foremost- openness and transparency!
2. Social Media Platforms and tools are for conversations (not broadcasting a message)
3. Create original content (blogs, news)- if you can’t string sentences together, then find someone who can (they are actually few and far between though)
4. Put your name (not your “handle”) on everything you do. Put a picture of yourself (not an avatar or logo or icon) on everything you do. Having some intimidating or cool logo or icon or photo of an expensive car or boat does not impress anyone anymore- those days are gone.
5. IR 2.0 is based on Web 2.0 which is link and keyword driven (by Google most of all). If you can’t figure out SEO, find someone who can to help you.
6. Your client companies become your brand; therefore, they must conduct themselves in an open and transparent way as well.
7. Research Web 2.0, attend webinars, read blogs, comment on blogs; granted little or none of what you will study will have anything to do with stocks. But, that is the true beauty of Web 2.0- THE INDIRECT APPROACH works so much better…