How to engage key audiences when publishing financial results

Big businesses are beginning to embrace social media, but many are still failing to harness its potential, particularly when they are publishing financial results. According to research by business consultancy FTI Consulting, over one third (38 per cent) of FTSE 100 companies do not share their latest full- or half-year financial results on social media. However, this is an improvement on a year ago when nearly half (48 per cent) of companies did not share their results on Twitter.

The good news, says Ant Moore, MD, strategic communications at FTI Consulting, is that companies which are embracing social media are seeing good levels of engagement, with 95 per cent of results-related posts receiving ‘likes’, ‘favourites’, ‘retweets’ or ‘shares’. Moore points out how BP’s posts were most effective, resulting in 532 interactions. But then comes the bad news,  Moore says: “Our research suggests that most FTSE 100 companies use social media to broadcast pre-planned messages, not to engage with their audience in a live dialogue – the majority of companies didn’t interact with stakeholders online, respond to questions, share coverage, or ‘retweet’ commentary.”

FTI’s report offers three key suggestions to businesses to improve their social media reporting:

Don’t focus on quantity. An increase in the number of posts does not necessarily lead to greater engagement and impact.
Do focus on content quality. Five out of the six companies that came top of the overall ranking, score the maximum number of points for post quality.
Popularity isn’t the most important criteria. A large following doesn’t automatically result in strong impact. The companies with more than 1 million followers (Shell and Unilever) came in at 8th and 54th in the overall ranking table).

In terms of particular actions to make financial reporting more successful, the report offers five top tips:

Use a hash tag. An original and consistent hash tag provide context and makes tweets easier to find.
Include $Cashtag. Use LSEcode as cash tag.
Tweet well. Make sure your tweet is concise, accessible and of interest to your audience.
Link. Include a shortened link to a report, video or other source of information.
Use images. Include multimedia content, images, videos and graphics.

Discussing how financial firms can improve how they communicate at results time, Moore says that it is important to monitor social media posts: “Following the results announcement, evaluate your own performance as well as the performances of others. Who dominated he conversation surrounding your results? How did each of your tweets and posts do in terms of engagement? Which tweet received the most ‘retweets’ and ‘favourites‘? Answers to these and other questions will help you plan and improve your social media performance for the next results announcement.”

Research was completed by business consultancy FTI Consulting for the report A Social Divide in the City III. The company analysed the Twitter and LinkedIn feeds of all FTSE 100 constituents, focusing on the tweets and posts that are directly related to their most recent annual or half-year results announcements. In total, 413 posts and tweets were analysed, all of which were published the day before, on the day, or the day after the announcements.

As an announcement of one set of results might be different to an announcement of another set of results, or one company’s performance online in one month might be different to its performance ten months later, this study compared results that are most similar and close to each other in time – annual and half-year results. The data covered the most recent set of annual or half-year results for each company prior to Wednesday 31 December 2014. The companies included were the constituents of the FTSE 100 index prior to this date. DOWNLOAD REPORT