Companies can now use social media to advertise key financial announcements under looser SEC regulations.
The total permeation of social media in the modern world would be difficult to overstate.
Sharing information, both personal and professional, is more likely to be conducted via social media than almost any other form of communication today, and is far more likely than the standard voice-to-voice conversation that was the norm for decades.
However, there are aspects of the financial landscape that are still trying to determine whether social media is the way to communicate information. The argument is not so much about businesses refusing to share information on social media, but rather investors’ willingness to look for information on social media websites.
In the spring of 2013, the framework of social media as a communication device for American businesses changed when the Securities and Exchange Commission altered its guidelines to make such communication legal and more favorable. The new rule stated that businesses could send out company information and updates via social media as long as all investors knew that the information was going out that way, and also that investors not interested in using social media would have the information available to them at the same time in some other manner.
The first part was easy. Company newsletters promote the intention to use social media sites for dissemination of information. The second part was hard; the immediacy of social media usage is difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate in any other way. Emails and phone calls have to be timed to go out at the exact same time as social media posts to make them legal under SEC guidelines.
The SEC changes came about when Netflix CEO Reed Hastings put out a news release (which was also filed with the SEC detailing the company’s social media sources, which included the company’s Facebook page, its Twitter account, and Hasting’s personal Facebook page.
The interest in social media as a tool to make investment decisions has sparked numerous research studies which indicate that investors remain wary of social media but are using it more often for business purposes.
According to Spectrem’s Affluent Market Insights Report 2014, 61 percent of Mass Affluent investors with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million are on Facebook, and that percentage drops to 52 percent among Ultra High Net Worth investors with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million. However, in 2010 only 29 percent of Mass Affluent and 27 percent of UHNW investors were on Facebook.
In 2013, 40 percent of UHNW investors had LinkedIn accounts. Up from 18 percent in 2010.
Only 7 percent of UHNW investors said they want their financial advisor providing information via social media sites, and 7 percent said they would be more interested in a financial product or service they saw advertised or mentioned in social media sites.
Forty-seven percent of UHNW Investors said they would use Facebook as a potential source of investing and financial needs, and 39 percent said they would use LinkedIn. The needs included communicating, researching, and receiving education on financial matters.
social media as “not yet significant LinkedIn"[It] shows that investor relations professionals should be examining how to incorporate or expand their social media capabilities to reach institutional investors," stated National’s Peter Block.
“Today, investors are skeptical of the value of the information conveyed using these tools but there is widespread recognition that they will become increasingly important.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.