LinkedIn: An Underappreciated Tool for IR
When investor relations officers think social media, Twitter and Facebook leap to mind– and with good reason. But LinkedIn, a tool many IROs may have tried but are not necessarily using to the fullest, is increasingly meriting a closer look. Over the past months, many experts have begun arguing that LinkedIn has evolved into a social media platform that’s extremely valuable to anyone in a communications field.
According to LinkedIn’s IR site, 259 million professionals worldwide in over 200 countries and territories have registered to use LinkedIn since the site’s official launch in May 2003. Here’s another statistic that the company loves to publicize: LinkedIn is growing at a rate of more than two new members per second.
In May 2012, LinkedIn acquired a social media darling: SlideShare. A report published in October showed that 25% of companies sampled use SlideShare, with 52% of the active group saying that they use SlideShare for IR purposes; that’s compared with just 8% in 2012.
Exploring New Uses
Given that networking and maintaining strong relationships are the bread and butter of an IRO’s job, LinkedIn makes particularly good sense within this profession. According to NIRI’s 2013 “Social Media Use in Investor Relations” survey, 28% of IROs report using social media, and among that 28%, LinkedIn ranked as the third most popular tool, behind only Twitter and webcasts.
As LinkedIn’s popularity grows, so does information on the typical LinkedIn user. In a 2013 edition of a survey titled “Portrait of a LinkedIn User,” Wayne Breitbarth, a LinkedIn consultant and author, found that 75.8% of users described researching people and companies as the most helpful aspect of LinkedIn.
When it comes to companies on LinkedIn, Breitbarth found that 33.5% had their own company pages. Within this group, popular uses included reviewing company followers (61.6%), sharing status updates with company followers (56.5%), and displaying products and services on a separate products and services page (53.6%).
Here are a few more suggestions for using LinkedIn within an IR program:
- Make sure key management profiles are timely and accurate and link to your company’s website and/or blog.
- Customize your company’s LinkedIn profile so your logo and banner image appear on your LinkedIn page. By adding descriptive tags, an IRO can give prospective investors the information they’re most eager to learn about your company.
- Update information regularly. People are able to “follow” your company on LinkedIn — just as they might follow someone on Twitter. For this reason, updating information creates a reason to return to your LinkedIn page.
- Join LinkedIn groups within your industry or of professional interest to IROs. In the latter camp, LinkedIn’s Investor Relations Executives Group, NIRI, and Investor Relations and Social Media are all good places to start.
- Ask key subject matter experts within your company to contribute to LinkedIn groups in which they can demonstrate industry knowledge.
- Check LinkedIn before one-on-ones and other investor meetings to uncover areas of common interest with prospects.
- Try LinkedIn Contacts, a smart phone app that syncs your calendar to your LinkedIn network. This app lets IROs traveling for roadshows or conferences quickly research the individuals they’re meeting, regardless of locale.