WITH the addition of Reuters.com as a distribution partner, StockTwits* now provides its users – including a growing number of public company investor relations departments – direct access to a financial audience of almost 60 million monthly users.
That number excludes the additional reach that IR departments can achieve by linking their StockTwits accounts to their other social networks such as Twitter, from where their messages can be spread to even more finance websites.
The result is that StockTwits now offers public companies distribution that rivals the big PR wire services. One difference, of course, is that StockTwits is free whereas PR wires are not.
Faster and fairer for Reg FD
An IR department’s message entered on StockTwits can now reach Yahoo! Finance, CNN Money, Reuters.com, Investopedia.com, Bing Finance, Bloomberg Professional, and — with distribution to Twitter – Nasdaq.com, SeekingAlpha.com and a host of other sites, not to mention the company’s direct followers on StockTwits, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
With this type of distribution, a company could conceivably meet its Reg FD requirements by adding news to its IR website and immediately disseminating an alert on StockTwits that contains a link back to the news on the company’s site. With additional distribution of the news through the website’s email list and RSS feed, there’s little if any doubt that information published in this manner is public for regulatory purposes.
When the SEC recognized website postings for Reg FD in 2008, it never envisaged this type of reach would be available to company websites. More importantly, distribution through StockTwits is faster and fairer than that provided by PR wires, typically 5 seconds to all points versus 80-seconds or more for PR wire distribution to reach all points, with some investors getting news releases before others.
Websites now with built-in wire services
The ability to post news on a company website and simultaneously distribute an alert to StockTwits and points beyond was recently added as a core feature in Q4 Web Systems’ corporate website content management system. The addition of the StockTwits API to Q4’s platform gives company websites their own built-in wire service.
There is nothing stopping other IR website vendors doing the same thing with the StockTwits API, but firms like Thomson Reuters and Nasdaq OMX’s Shareholder.com, which have their own PR wire services, may find themselves conflicted about doing so.
Of course, distribution via StockTwits and other social media involves more than just pushing out information. It is a two-way medium, with investors able to provide direct feedback to companies and ask questions.
That benefits companies as they can monitor conversations and correct misinformation or direct investors to details they may have missed. If company responses are done on StockTwits, they’ll be distributed widely.
Based on audience responses to companies that are already using StockTwits, investors overwhelmingly appreciate having companies contribute information to “the stream.” However, it’s important for companies to spend a little time on StockTwits to understand how the service works and what the audience expects. The StockTwits house rules apply to all participants.
Need for IR web managers
The biggest barrier for StockTwits and other social media gaining acceptance in the IR community is likely going to be access to qualified staff who are able to manage web channels and confidently and quickly respond to investor questions and comments.
This may well be the time for companies to add a full-time IR web manager to their teams to ensure they are accessible and responsive in this new era of online communications.
* Disclosure: I have provided paid consulting services to StockTwits in the past 12 months, but do not have a current consulting arrangement with the company.