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Case Study: WWE shares advantages of having a dedicated Twitter account for IR – Part 2

By   22 January 2013 One Comment

What follows is the second part of our Interview with Michael Weitz, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Financial Planning at World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE). In our last blog post, Michael shared with us the steps that he took to implement his social media program and some of the challenges and successes he encountered. In the following post, he describes what goes into maintaining WWE’s IR presence on social media and what some of his goals are for the company’s social media IR program.

6. Who is responsible for WWE’s social media accounts?

  • The primary responsibility for WWE’s social media accounts falls on our 2-person IR team – i.e., myself, and our IR Director, Jessica Davies.
  • Jessica joined us recently, and on a day-to-day basis, has become a prominent voice for our IR social media networks.
  • Before coming to WWE Jessica had significant social media experience including developing social media strategies for publically-traded companies as well as pro-bono consulting for several charities (Literacy Assistance Center and Teatro SEA, bilingual children theater).

7. Is there any collaboration on messaging? What about legal department’s involvement?

  • While the IR Team takes full responsibility for our messaging, we draw heavily from our internal resources.
  • That includes our colleagues in Corporate Communications, Marketing and the leadership of our various business units.
  • We were careful to review our approach to social media with our Legal department. Before doing anything, we made sure they were on board. On an ongoing basis, the involvement of our Legal department is limited because the boundaries defined by Reg FD are pretty clear. Additionally, if ever we feel an urge to disclose more, we exercise our partnership with our internal SEC lawyer, and he confirms our boundaries. It’s not often, but utilizing that relationship can be very helpful.

8. What kind of interaction are you having on the investor account? i.e. are you fielding a lot of questions? If so, do you know if they are retail or institutional investors? Analysts?

  • We use the Hootsuite tools to monitor the dialog raised by our communication.
  • It’s pretty clear that we have a mix of analysts, retail investors and institutional investors.
  • The analysts and Institutional investors follow us and read our tweets, but tend to call or e-mail us directly with their questions.
  • Additionally, we field ~1-2 questions per week from retail investors directly through our social media networks.

9. What kind of reaction (if any) did you get from your shareholders regarding the company’s use of social media?

  • We believe that overall, investors are very pleased with the step-up in communication.
  • I think that extends to both retail and institutional investors.
  • Originally, we heard some concern that we were shifting our focus from execution to PR, but that’s clearly not the case and they have seen that.
  • Most investors have indicated that its easier to keep up on important events and to gather important data and information (all from one source).
  • What we have seen is that if we make their lives easier, the investment community will be pleased and respond favorably.

10. What are your social media goals? And how do you measure success?

  • Our broad goals for SM include building awareness of the WWE story/ business model.
  • We think the investment community holds many misconceptions about the company based on our entertainment product, so there is a massive potential to use social media to address just that.
  • I think we can build awareness for the company’s financial story in several ways:
  1. Increase use of video communication – YouTube.
  2. Extending our communication to the financial media: StockTwits.
  3. Continuing to expand our presence, including increasing our following among institutional investors.
  • As an additional goal: we would like to make information more easily accessible through a social media hub on our own website.
  • We’ll measure our success in two ways: (1) how we execute in delivering a broader social media platform (more YouTube, Social Media hub, etc.) and (2) how well we increase the frequency and depth of our 1×1 meetings with investors.

11. Do you have an advice for other public companies considering social media for IR?

  • IR practitioners have been wary of using social media for several reasons:
  1. Concerned about Reg FD compliance
  2. Inability to disclose risks adequately
  3. Company information gets lost in the noise
  4. Institutional investors/analysts are not using social media
  • While challenging, none of these concerns are insurmountable:
  1. Reg FD:  Information disclosed in social media can be matched to press release or other public documents.
  2. Disclosure:  Tweets can be used to redirect investors to the company website, which provides complete information, and which ensures Reg FD compliance.
  3. Lost in the Noise:  Ignoring these sources leaves company’s story in the hands of others.
  4. Institutional investors/analysts:  contrary to what most people believe, from what we see, analysts and investors are using social media (through niche sites and mobile devices) to actively inform their views.

I would conclude that in a world where information travels faster and faster, being proactive about controlling your message is important. As they say A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.’  So at least put on your running shoes and get active with social media!