Facebook isn’t just for stalking exes and sharing funny photos and videos of your cats, it’s a tool that companies can use to their advantage for investor relations. But it’s gotta be done right.
Sheryl Joyce of Q4 Web Systems released a white paper illustrating some best practices for companies using Facebook for investor relations. Here is a look at what Q4 found that works on the Book of Face.
Emulate the look and feel of your corporate website homepage
Just as you want to make sure that all your outgoing communications all similarly reflect your company’s overall brand image, it’s a good idea to design your company’s Facebook page in such a way that it resembles your company’s website. This will instill a sense of familiarity with visitors and let them know they are, in fact, on the right page and not some kind of fan page or something that isn’t exactly related to the company.
While initially loathed by many, Facebook’s timeline format allows organizations more flexibility with design and content, making for easy branding. In addition to the company logo, you should be able to design something that uses the same or similar photos and graphics as your website, linking the two in visitors’ minds. Companies can easily organize, and prioritize content, choose or feature what shows up on their timeline, and even hide posts if necessary.
Some companies use a ‘welcome’ page on Facebook that greets visitors when they get to their page, lets them know what they can find there and also has links to the company’s other social networking sites so people can choose accordingly as to how they want to interact with the company.
Pull in RSS feeds from your IR website or blog to populate Facebook pages
A Facebook page might not always be the easiest thing to continually update for a company (unless you have a corporate house cat that you can take photos of) but you can configure an RSS feed to help populate a company Facebook page.
You can add news items or blog posts straight to your main Facebook page as they are published on your company website or you can create a separate Facebook page for an RSS feed (more on that below).
Using RSS feeds helps to keep news and pertinent information all in one place on a page so people can find what they are looking for easily as opposed to having to scroll through a company’s wall feed to find it.
Most companies maintain blogs nowadays (you’re reading one right now, as a matter of fact) and it’s a good idea to link to your blog from your Facebook page. You can choose just to have a static link for visitors but something like using a posting on the Facebook page that contains the title of the blog post and maybe the first few lines and a link back to the blog post is even better.
Use Notes and customizable pages to provide additional information about company assets, highlight important events or underscore sustainability initiatives
A lot of companies have dedicated ‘Notes’ pages that can be used for pretty much anything, like blog entries, event listings, job listings, product announcements, case studies and webinars.
These customizable pages are great for breaking up information into categories that are easily searchable for visitors. It’s all about making things easier for visitors.
Of course, if your company hosts a lot of events, it makes sense to have an events page to list what’s coming up. And who doesn’t love some of that good ol’ corporate social responsibility? Several companies use Facebook to highlight their charitable, social and environmental endeavors. You can put up some highlights and link them back to your website for a more comprehensive overview. You can include your CSR mission statement, links to CSR reports and don’t forget the photos! (Actual photos of actual events, though, not stock photos.)
It’s your Facebook page and you get to make the rules. Lest people think it’s a free for all, it’s good to let people know that there are some guidelines to follow while on your patch of cyber playground. Of course, if you’re going to allow your fans to comment on your Facebook page — and that’s really the whole point of it — you’ll need to monitor the comments. What you decide to take down will be up to you but you have your guidelines to help you. Remember that not all negative comments are bad. If they are written in a respectful way, they might provide valuable insight and it’s never a bad idea to address those rather than just sweeping them under the rug.
And don’t forget a disclaimer that says not everything written on the company’s page necessarily reflects or is endorsed by the company. Ask your lawyers to whip up some legal mumbo jumbo. Let’s face it, nobody is actually going to read it but it’s important to have. You can stick all that stuff on one of the aforementioned ‘Notes’ pages.
Direct visitors to other social channels
If your company is on Facebook, it is almost certainly on other social networks, too. It’s almost mandatory or something nowadays. Being on Facebook but not Twitter is like only wearing one sock.
So obviously you’ll want to promote whatever you’re doing on your other social media channels on Facebook. Now, that doesn’t mean putting all your tweets on your Facebook wall but if your company has a Youtube channel, you can embed the videos on Facebook, link to your Slideshare presentations and we’ve already talked about promoting your company’s blog.
You can use your company’s Facebook wall to either remind readers that other channels are
available, or to notify readers when your company goes live on another social network. As mentioned before, it’s helpful to have a list somewhere on your company’s Facebook page with all the social networks that it’s on, complete with linked icons to the company account (so if people click on the Pinterest icon, they’re taken to the company Pinterest page etc.).
You can add these icons right onto the main Facebook page and there are applications that will pull other social channel feeds into Facebook so when people click on a social media link, they are directed to a Facebook page that essentially duplicates that other channel, but doesn’t take them away from Facebook. This way, visitors can navigate around a company’s news, information and social channels without opening a whole bunch of screens.
Link to financial blogs
Your company’s blog isn’t the only written material that is worth posting or linking to on its Facebook page. Especially for investor relations, it’s good to give visitors information about your company within the context of its sector and just information about the sector itself.
You can accomplish this by linking to sector-related articles from financial blogs and other sources. Your shareholders may not be familiar with these blogs or consider following them so you might just be doing some of them a favor by helping them to be better informed.
And financial blog posts that you link to need not be focussed on your company, either. Sharing an article that discusses your company and its peers in the market will give shareholders a nice overview of the sector. There are, of course, other advantages to staying on top of what is being said on financial blogs, regardless of whether your company is the focus of the article, like giving your company more avenues to interact and engage with investors and potentially helping to stave off rumors from incorrect or erroneous information being shared.
Expand use of multimedia to highlight aspects of the business
Everybody loves looking at photos and if you’re going to a conference or hosting an event, you should definitely take your camera and post some pics or maybe a bit of video (the G-rated stuff, anyway). You’ll be in good company, as most companies on Facebook add photos to regular posts and also maintain some kind of photo gallery. You can use Facebook’s built in photo gallery options or link to outside sites, like Flickr.
Put on your editor’s cap when posting photos and video, though. If you’re about to hit publish on 50 photos from an event, stop, go back and choose the best 10 and just publish those instead.
And nobody wants to see a shaky video of your CEO giving a 10-minutes speech from across a banquet hall. Get up close to him or her when recording and then use maybe a 20 or 30 second snippet from the speech followed by a short one or two minute interview with them afterward to sum up what they said.
If your company is in the news at all or gets featured on TV somehow, you can post those videos, too, either by embedding them or with an outside link, whichever you prefer (although embedding is best).
Companies that publish corporate videos on their YouTube account and embed them on their website can get even more milage from them by providing access to those videos on their Facebook account. It allows readers quick access to the content, can increase readership across all channels and makes it much easier to share the videos.
I was going to stick in a paragraph here about company engagement on Facebook, but this post is already too long and you’re already tired of reading it. But by following these recommendations, you can make your company’s Facebook page an informative and familiar place for investors and potential investors to gather valuable information about your business and your sector.