EARLIER this week, I attended a lunch seminar “IR Excellence: Risks and opportunities in a digital world,” hosted by the Swedish IR association (SIRA), in cooperation with Cision, Grayling and Setterwalls.
IROs from the internet bank Nordnet and the mobile operator Tele2 where invited to share their experiences of using social media for IR. Sculptor IR wrote about Nordnet in an earlier post: Advice from Swedish IR pioneers in Social Media: ”Keep it simple”
Nordnet: reaching out to retail investors
Nordnet is a mid-cap company with a market cap of 4 Billion SEK (US$600 million) that is listed on NASDAQ OMX Nordic. The company has four Twitter accounts, three with a personal approach and @Nordnet as their official corporate account. They are active in other social media channels like Facebook and Slideshare, and they have a corporate blog called Nordnetbloggen.
The company has been “live-tweeting” their quarterly presentations for the past year, and they have invited followers to send in questions through twitter or the blog.
Adrian Westman, IR manager at Nordnet, said that new media channels improve and strengthen the company’s financial communication as they are more user-friendly, available and transparent.
Nordnet’s followers are mostly private individuals, IR/PR consultants and journalists. Nordnet’s main purpose with using social media channels is not to reach their analysts because they “talk to them frequently.”
Instead, Nordnet wants to improve their relations with their retail shareholders, who they communicate with less often. They also want to strengthen the company’s brand by reaching a larger audience.
Tele2: blog-inspired IR website
Tele2, which has a market-cap of 63 Billion SEK (US$9 Billion), launched their blog-inspired IR website “Explore our financials” earlier this year and are active in almost all social media channels.
Lars Torstensson, Group Director, Corporate Communications at Tele2 explained that their main purpose with social media is to reach and communicate with customers. Tele2 considers social media great tools for PR and internal communications.
When it comes to investor relations, social media has potential to be an effective communications tool in the future, but not at the moment, according to Lars. Lars’ advice to other IROs is to make sure that disinformation doesn’t go unanswered.
Regulatory environment leads to caution
Anders Ackebo, senior consultant at law firm Setterwalls, stressed the legal constraints of using social media for IR purposes. He could see a risk that companies are stretching compliance rules when communicating in social media.
On the other hand, said Anders, European compliance rules need to be updated to include new media channels, but that process that will take some time.
The final discussion was about the risks of new media. Nordnet explained that they apply the same information policy in social media as for traditional communication so they don’t see new threats or risks.
In summary, Swedish IROs still are skeptical about social media as the compliance risks seem bigger than the opportunities these new channels create. But if they are going to be active, their main purpose would be to reach out to their retail shareholders.
Of course, this focus could change if, as Adrian Westman from Nordnet suggested, we see Scandinavian versions of Seeking Alpha or StockTwits, which would bring institutional investors to the audience.