A growing number of companies use blogging and social media networks like Twitter to reach out to investors and other audiences, but many are moving tentatively amid legal concerns about disclosure, The Wall Street Journal reports (“Corporate Blogs and ‘Tweets’ Must Keep SEC in Mind,” April 27, 2009, p. B4).
Among the Fortune 500 companies, 81 now sponsor public blogs, and 23 of those use Twitter to blast out 140-character corporate tidbits, according to the Society for New Communications Research.
IR 2.0 participants include old-economy giants like Wal-Mart, Chevron and General Motors, the WSJ says. Last week Johnson & Johnson distributed 23 news fragments – excuse me, Tweets – from its annual meeting via Twitter.
But getting out there comes with some concerns. the story notes:
Such efforts raise thorny questions. Blogs and tweets can run afoul of Securities and Exchange Commission regulations on corporate communications. But sanitizing such posts risks hurting credibility with online audiences.
‘This is all new to companies, and they’re not sure where they can go,’ says Dominic Jones, editor of IR Web Report …
Companies are taking different tacks on interactive IR issues.
Although several tech companies are in the forefront of social media for IR, chipmaker Intel has stayed away from blogs and Twitter because of concerns about SEC disclosure rules – and a desire to avoid sponsoring what can be negative comments from online followers – the WSJ reports.
On the other hand, tech company EMC likes Twitter’s ability to gather instant commentary and diverse opinions from employees, investors and other outsiders.
Online auction house eBay is balancing these concerns – using its corporate blog and Twitter updates to report on earnings calls and other business topics, while adding regulatory disclaimers to some posts to protect itself.
In different ways that fit our own companies, we should all be tiptoeing into 2.0.