New web trends – social media and SEO by elfphabet2



                                                           numbeR 6
New web
                                                                      Social media’s
                                                                      new foothold

trends –
                                                                      corporate blogs and
                                                                      social bookmarking

social media                                                          How SEO can get
                                                                      your IR news noticed

and SEO                                                               New media
                                                                      going forward

A n e d u cAt I o n A l S u p p l e m e n t to I R m AgA z I n e
                                      social media

Are blogs fair disclosure?                         s the web evolves, it’s no    act as a starting point for dialogue
                                                   longer safe to assume         with online participants. Conversation
Jonathan Schwartz is not only                      your investors are getting    is in, authoritative opinions are out.
CEO of Sun Microsystems, he’s                      their information just from
also a well-known blogger (www.                    mainstream media. They        The rise of social media Last         may be browsing sites like Digg or         The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia,
year he asked the SEC to change       Reddit, which rate news items by how       defines social media as ‘the online
Regulation FD so that Sun and         many clicks they receive, to find out      technologies and practices that
others could announce material        how others are prioritizing top stories    people use to share content, opinions,
news on their company websites.       of the day. If you’re a tech company,      insights, experiences, perspectives
                                      a specialized social media site like       and media.’ Popular social media
Although the SEC didn’t agree,        Technorati may be more influential         tools include message boards,
its chairman, Christopher Cox,        than the Wall Street Journal.              podcasts, social bookmark sites,
did post a positive comment last          In the past wire services and          blogs and wikis (collaborative
November on Schwartz’s blog,          newspapers culled the most impor-          websites that are edited by users). In
raising the profile of corporate      tant stories, researched and wrote         short, social media are community-
blogs considerably.                   them as articles that were then            driven, online information exchanges.
                                      professionally edited, and presented          Growth in social media has been
A March 2007 online survey of         to a paying audience. Today people         phenomenal. According to Alexa
CIRI members conducted by             can extract or ‘pull’ exactly the          Internet, nine of the top 20 US sites
Marketwire found that one in          information they want from a wildly        are social media sites: Blogger, Digg
four IROs at companies without        uneven but up-to-the-minute                YouTube, Wikipedia, MySpace, Flickr,
corporate blogs think a blog could    collection of information on the web.      Facebook, CraigsList and Orkut.
enhance shareholder dialogue.             Pull models are unforgiving,              What’s more, 39 percent of online
However, 55 percent of those          though. If your press release doesn’t      Americans, around 57 mn people,
IROs oppose corporate blogs.          appear high in the search engine           read blogs, according to the Pew
They worry about a lack of control    results, your announcement may             Internet & American Life Project. And
over potentially negative, false      be lost. What’s more, many popular         a study by Redboots, a consulting firm
or misleading commentary, and         social media sites aggregate rankings      that helps companies increase their
they are concerned about liability    that tell users what other readers         internet traffic, found that 77 percent
and disclosure risks.                 consider high-quality information.         of people consider blogs a good way
                                      Even the New York Times has begun          to get information on a company.
But corporate blogs are not           to rate its 10 most popular articles          A recent Marketwire study of IR
really so radical. No matter how      on its website. The mechanisms of          blogging habits found 33 percent of
freewheeling they purport to be,      such rankings must be understood           the mega-caps surveyed have a blog.
they still pass through the same      if you want your news to get noticed.      And 87 percent of the 114 respondents
legal and disclosure vetting              What’s striking about social           are open to the idea of posting content
process as press releases or          media sites is that instead of sending     including product/service announce-
other official documents.             information to a passive audience they     ments, earnings releases and M&A

6.ii                       IR guide                                               New web trends – social media and SEO
 Top 10 social networking sites                   In August 2006 Cisco podcast its       learn by example
                                              first earnings call and logged an
 mySpace              Aol Hometown
                                              additional 6,000 downloads in the first    Here are a few social media sites
 blogger              Yahoo!                  three days. It then began placing its      worth exploring:
                                              monthly tech talks on its IR site, while
 classmates online    mSn Spaces
                                              making 10 to 15-minute highlights          ✜ TechCrunch (www.techcrunch.
 Youtube              SixApart typepad        available as podcasts. Cisco recently        com). A positive write-up from
                                              started posting its earnings releases        TechCrunch, a blog chronicling
 mSn groups 
                                              on one of its four islands in Second         web start-ups, usually spurs
                 Source: Nielsen/NetRatings   Life, an online virtual world.               calls from venture capitalists.
                                                  Cisco’s blogging activities show its
developments on a corporate blog              commitment to new media. At first,         ✜ Dogpile (
as long as they continue to retain            Gibson says, the company fretted             Described as ‘the best search
control of the content.                       about letting the public comment on          engines piled into one’, this
                                              every issue, however sensitive. ‘We          site consolidates results from
A new role for IR                             hunkered down and expected a lot             different search engines.
For decades IROs have served as               of bad staff to happen, but it didn’t,’
stewards of financial filings, preserv-       she says. In fact, Cisco found, ‘the       ✜ Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.
ing a company’s reputation and                conversations are very targeted.’            com). Wikipedia is a user-
preventing any embarrassing regula-               Gibson believes blogs are useful         generated encyclopedia with
tory glitches. Social media offer IROs        for setting the record straight. When        nearly 2 mn articles in English.
a new role, letting them promote their        Yahoo!, Google and Cisco were                Is your company listed? If so,
company’s financial performance by            accused of modifying their routers           what’s being said about it?
bringing results to a wider audience.         so the Chinese government could              Correcting false or outdated
   By learning to use online tools,           restrict information, Cisco posted           information on Wikipedia
IROs can present analyst days or              its congressional testimony denying          makes sense because all users
earnings releases in formats investors        the allegation on its public blog.           are welcome to edit content.
like best. Blogging, social bookmarking       ‘The reporters never went to public
and search engine optimization (SEO)          relations, they read our blog.’            ✜ YouTube (
can all help ensure your IR message               Gibson warns that blogging isn’t         Anyone can post videos on this
gets attention.                               for everyone. It’s best for firms            site. Should your most recent
   As a technology company, Cisco             comfortable with open debate. But            analyst day be available here?
Systems’ IR has embraced all types            she believes IROs should familiarize
of new media, from podcasting to              themselves with blogs because              ✜ MySpace (
corporate blogging to initial ventures        ‘what’s being mentioned can hit your         This site exemplifies the social
into virtual worlds. ‘We want to reach        reputation.’ It’s also important to have     network concept: certain
more outlets with our story,’ says            policies in place governing new media        demographic or psychographic
Jeanette Gibson, director of corporate        ‘because you’re legally responsible          types come together to interact
communications and new media.                 for information you’re giving out.’          with one another.

New web trends – social media and SEO                                                    IR guide                     6.iii
                                      Courting the
                                      new media

Reaching the blogosphere                 nvestors eagerly ferreting out          rated on social media sites like
                                         information about your company          Technorati or, all of a
Communicating with bloggers              may sound like a gift. However, the     sudden a casual remark can assume
isn’t the same as communicating          gift comes with strings attached.       a life of its own. IROs need to begin
with traditional media outlets.          Social communities tend to              monitoring what’s being said on the
If bloggers sense you’re pushing      respond poorly to overt marketing          better-trafficked blogs.
unwelcome or biased information       efforts. They prize independence and           When venturing into the blogo-
on them, they may get testy and       sometimes their assessment of your         sphere for the first time, begin with
turn against you.                     company and its performance may            blogs dedicated to a subject you know
                                      not be to your liking.                     well. Blogs exploring your industry,
Step one is to know your bloggers.       Today’s bloggers want to evaluate       the IR profession or the corporate
Blogs are idiosyncratic. Reading      whether stocks are good buys or            blogs of direct competitors are all
the same few on a regular basis       not, but their methods for doing so        good places to start.
will soon give you a sense of their   aren’t orthodox. For an IRO trained in
preoccupations and the type of        dealing with financial analysts and        Firing back?
story they gravitate toward.          large institutional investors, commu-      Clearly contributing to blogs anony-
                                      nicating with social media outlets         mously is risky. But should an IRO
Instead of ‘pushing’ news to          requires an entirely different mindset.    who notices something unfavorable or
bloggers, consider your interac-                                                 untrue being said about his company
tions a conversation. So you might    Read the blogs                             set the record straight? In principle,
email a blogger with an interesting   In 2005 someone called Rahodeb             deciding whether to respond to blog
news item, even if it doesn’t         entered Yahoo! Finance and opined          rumors or innuendo is similar to
directly relate to your company.      that no company would buy Wild Oats        deciding whether to respond to other
                                      at its price of around $8 a share.         types of market rumors. However,
Contrary to conventional              Rahodeb turned out to be the online        some of the particulars are different.
wisdom, bloggers are receptive        pseudonym for Jack Mackey, CEO of          It’s important to incorporate provisions
to mainstream news sources.           Whole Foods, who offered to buy Wild       for countering rumors on blogs
According to a June 2007 survey       Oats for $18.50 a share a year later.      into your general communications
by Marketwire, 66 percent of              This incident provoked a firestorm     policies. The main difference between
bloggers request press releases       of controversy about blogs. Was            blog rumors and other forms of rumor
from newswires, a number that         Mackey trying to manipulate Wild           is that the sentiments expressed in
continues to grow. The study          Oats’ stock price to get a better price?   blogs tend to spread unusually rapidly.
also found that 39 percent of         Or was he simply playing devil’s           Instead of having days to act, you may
bloggers prefer press releases        advocate and having a little fun? The      have only hours.
in multi-media format.                SEC is investigating Mackey’s commu-           As with any rumor, offense is the
                                      nications to determine whether he          best defense. Using the latest social
                                      broke any securities laws.                 media to keep investors informed
                                          If a blogger discusses your            may prevent false impressions from
                                      organization and the blog is highly        forming in the first place.

6.iv                       IR guide                                                New web trends – social media and SEO
 Regulatory requirements                 multimedia elements, such as the         Social bookmarking
                                         company’s logo, a headshot of the
 Does a corporate website or blog
 satisfy Reg FD?                         principal, and a PDF version of all      For over a decade the internet
                                         the key materials. Social media          has featured sites where people
  Strongly support                       earnings releases may also contain       can share their favorite online
  26.32%                                 links to analyst calls as podcasts,      bookmarks. In fact, 28 percent
  Somewhat support                       and perhaps a video of a new product.    of users have tagged online
  13.16%                                 And downloadable PDFs of the most        content via social bookmarking
  Neither oppose nor support             recent annual report or PowerPoint       sites, according to the Pew
  36.84%                                 presentations now find a home in         Internet & American Life Project.
  Somewhat oppose                        the social media release.
  15.79%                                    The social media release also         Today sites such as Reddit, Digg
  Strongly oppose
                                         features links to pages      and Newsvine apply the social
                                         and to really simple syndication (RSS)   bookmarking concept to news
                                         feeds for more information and           items. Other sites, such as del.
  Didn’t answer
                                         updated coverage. Various ‘Technorati, Diigo, Furl and Stumble-
                                         Tags’ are also included, so that your    Upon, bring a wider range of
 Source: Marketwire                      news can be viewed at this site.         web discoveries to light. They are
                                            To see a social media release,        places where visitors can happen
The social media release                 visit http:///         upon great web content because
In 2006 Shift Communications             Web20Releases/52/5232006.html.           others happened upon the same
published a template companies can                                                content first – and took the time
use for transforming their traditional    To blog or not to blog?                 to share it.
press releases into social media          Reasons for having a corporate blog
releases. This provides all the                                                   How can public companies get
                                           Disseminate information quickly
necessary links and content for                                                   their content noticed by the
a press release to be used by the                                                 individuals publishing the most
new social media outlets.                  Post own content without               popular social bookmarking sites?
                                           an intermediary
   A social media release doesn’t                                                 One way is by providing direct
mimic a news story like a traditional                                             links to those sites.
press release. Instead it provides         Direct tie to company
                                           website/better branding
the components, or raw ingredients,                                               On the web, content is still king.
necessary for putting together a                                                  If you can create an IR site with
story in almost any format.                Cost savings                           information that appeals to
   The most salient facts in a social      16.78%                                 bloggers and other arbiters of
media release appear as a series of        Demonstrate technological leadership   net excellence, you’ll be rewarded
bullets. These are then supplemented       9.09%                                  in the new online meritocracy.
by a section of quotations from senior    Source: Marketwire
executives. The release also provides

New web trends – social media and SEO                                             IR guide                       6.v
                                       SEO for IROs

opening a social                                      ost people turn to search      the initial pages of an online
media newsroom                                        engines to find the            document, the better. Consider
                                                      online information they        building specific landing pages for
Unlike a traditional newsroom,                        want. According to the         your major keywords. This ensures
a social media newsroom is                            Pew Internet & American        that searchers arrive at the precise
interactive. It enables a company’s    Life Project, 38 mn Americans use             part of your site they want to see
various audiences to access and        search engines each day, making it            and aren’t put off by having to
subscribe to any amount of a           the most popular online activity after        click through pages and pages
company’s official content sources.    email. Nielson/NetRatings and Media           of irrelevant information.
It also facilitates direct conversa-   Metrix arrives at similar findings:        ✜ Include metatags. Metatags are
tions with investors and other         almost 85 percent of internet users           special HTML ‘tags’ which provide
individuals about news releases        use search engines to find new                additional information about a web
on a company’s official website.       websites, and one in every 28 pages           page. A number of search engines
                                       viewed is a search results page.              use metatags to catalog pages
Ideally, the social media                  SEO – a set of methods aimed              more accurately.
newsroom will be the repository        at improving the visibility of a web       ✜ consider keyword density. Experts
for everything that’s being publicly   document or website in search engine          suggest optimizing your press
said about your company. The           rankings – is perhaps the best way            release with no more than three
newsroom tracks all comments           to get your earnings and other press          keywords or keyword phrases.
made by spokespeople on                releases noticed.                             Also important is keyword density,
external blogs. And it links                                                         or the percentage of keywords
directly to media coverage,            A few basics                                  contained within a given document.
which can be added to Technorati       Recognizing the importance of SEO,            Ideally, aim for a keyword density
by pushing a designated button.        many newswires are helping companies          of 2 percent to 8 percent.
The social media newsroom even         optimize their press releases during       ✜ use hyperlinks. If you aim to
includes a social bookmarking          the submission process.                       highlight a certain set of earnings
corner where blogs and main-              Here are some tips:                        results, it is useful to hyperlink
stream media links can be found.       ✜ pay attention to keywords.                  the keywords for that section and
                                          Keywords are the terms individuals         then attach the relevant IR URL.
Shift Communications started a            type into a search engine to identify   ✜ polish your content. Search engine
free, downloadable social media           web destinations. When you’re              spiders, which seek out and rank
template in February 2007. To             deciding on keywords, think of             web materials, reward strong
explore this, go to www.shiftcomm.        terms that are specific, preferably        content. If your content is poorly
com/downloads/Social-Media-               either buzzwords or industry               written, rarely updated or irrelevant,
Newsroom-presentation.pdf.                terms. What’s more, try to select          don’t expect your pages to rank
                                          keywords that will differentiate           high on search engine results.
                                          you from competitors.                      SEO may sound like an insur-
                                       ✜ think placement. The more                mountable task given the proliferation
                                          prominently keywords appear on          of search engines. The good news,                        IR guide                                                New web trends – social media and SEO
however, is that optimizing a document     an ongoing process. Keep improving       the right tools
works for all the major search             your keywords and strengthening
engines from Google to Yahoo! to           your content.                            As soon as the concept of SEO was
Search Engine Tracker.                   ✜ don’t reinvent the wheel.                born, a new cadre of professionals
  Some dos and don’ts:                     Techniques for SEO and communi-          capable of working this particular
✜ do make your navigation user-            cating through social media are          brand of wizardry sprang up and
  friendly. While it may seem clever       probably already being successfully      began charging hefty fees to
  or attention-getting to assign           employed elsewhere in your               optimize web documents. But
  cutesy titles to content, doing so       company. Many PR departments             SEO is something you can do
  may alienate readers who don’t           have embraced search engine              yourself with the proper tools.
  recognize what they’re looking           optimization and may be able
  for. The sole aim of a navigation        to share valuable advice.                ✜ Overture Keyword Selector.
  system should be to make web                                                        This tells you how many times
  users’ lives easier.                    SEO checklist                               a given term was entered into
✜ do review your design. Make                                                         search engines within the past
  sure your site is clean and visually    ✜ Identify your key audiences for           month. It also lists related
                                            the press release.
  appealing. If you have large                                                        searches that include your
  graphics and poorly designed            ✜ Do keyword research. Write your           proposed term, and it generates
  frames that load slowly, search           press release around the keywords.        a list of variations on a phrase
  engine spiders may be blocked           ✜ Determine up to three keywords or         that you might consider.
  from visiting your site. Also, if         key phrases. Use Overture for help.
  users can’t quickly find what they                                                ✜ Wordtracker. Competitive
                                          ✜ Use Wordtracker to find all
  want on your site, they’ll simply         combinations bearing any relation         analysis tools like this can
  move on.                                  to your business, service or product.     help you find keywords your
✜ don’t stoop to nasty tricks. Some                                                   potential investors use but
                                          ✜ Include keywords at the beginning
  SEO techniques are considered                                                       your competitors don’t know.
                                            of the headline.
  unethical and are frowned upon
  by search engine spiders. Although      ✜ Place keywords in the subhead           ✜ Live Keyword Analysis Tool.
  practices like keyword stuffing           beneath the headline.                     This free tool automatically
  (putting keywords everywhere)           ✜ Place keywords in subheads within         calculates keyword density for
  or invisible text may elevate your        the body of the press release.            any document you generate.
  site’s ranking in the short term,       ✜ Sprinkle subheads in the copy.
  in the long run these actions                                                     ✜ HitsLink. This gives real-time
  backfire. Search engine spiders         ✜ Aim for a keyword density of              statistics on who visits your
                                            between 2 percent and 8 percent.
  are becoming increasingly adept                                                     site, the keywords they use
  at identifying ‘black hat SEO           ✜ Add hyperlinks to help people find        to find you, how they navigate
  techniques’ and banning these             related content.                          your site, and whether or
  sites for questionable practices.       Source: Marketwire                          not they have transacted
✜ don’t rest on your laurels. SEO is                                                  any business on it.

New web trends – social media and SEO                                               IR guide                    6.vii
                                     Where we’re

Sponsor’s statement                               s with mainstream media,      different from yours. Much recent
                                                  developing contacts with      attention has been paid to hedge
As the only fully integrated                      social media opinion-         funds, some of which flourish by
North American global newswire,                   makers takes time.            pursuing activist campaigns. At the
Marketwire is a full-service                      Because efforts to get        end of 2006 there were around 9,500
partner to IROs seeking premier      your news picked up by bloggers            hedge funds worldwide, with some
distribution, media management,      or social bookmarking sites may            $1.4 tn in assets under management.
multimedia and monitoring            backfire, a good strategy is to            Activist funds have been increasingly
solutions. We deliver your news      strengthen your communications in          successful at achieving their ends. In
to the global-financial community    general. Strong content, easy naviga-      a recent study by Thomson Financial,
and are recognized by the SEC,       bility, and press releases and IR sites    hedge fund managers leading activist
the Toronto Stock Exchange and       tailored to social media outlets are       campaigns secured at least one of
the UK’s Financial Services          more likely to gain favor over time.       their goals 45 percent of the time.
Authority. Let our experienced           As you make early forays into new          Expect the debate about your
teams help with accurate, quick      online media outlets, be sure to test      company’s fortunes to become even
turnarounds for all your releases,   results. At the end of the day, the best   more heated as hedge funds and
EDGAR, SEDAR and UK filings,         way to measure success is by regularly     other groups enter the space and
and XBRL conversions.                experimenting with your ranking in         air their ideas too. And as the new
   Marketwire offers innovative      the search engines. If last year’s         dialogue grows stronger and louder,
products and services, including     earnings release was buried on the         public companies will have to
social media, SEO, Dashboard         fourth page of Google’s search results     consider how to respond.
Mobile Financial, News Dashboard     for your industry and this year it’s the       Social media sites allow their
coverage reports, exclusive          third item, progress has been made.        founders’ ideas to be tested against
access to networks such as the                                                  public opinion, wherever that leads.
Canadian Press Wire Network,         Rethinking communications                  Are companies brave enough to
Easy IR, and more – to help IR       Just as public companies are starting      disseminate truly interactive press
professionals maximize their         to grasp the power of social media,        releases, inviting open commentary
effectiveness, while ensuring        so are shareholder activists and other     on their announcements? Will IROs
accuracy and best practice.          organizations whose agenda may be          ever entertain a legitimate two-way
                                                                                dialogue on their sites?
                                                                                    So where will the rise of social
   For more information                                                         media lead? Most experts believe
                                                                                it won’t entirely usurp traditional
   +	 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Suite 1050, El Segundo, CA 90245
                                                                                distribution systems. There will
   K	 Brodeur, SVP of strategy and development
     Thom                                                                       always be room for intermediaries
  ) +1 310 765 3248 / +1 800 774 9473                                           and mainstream media. Yet it’s crucial
  @                                                    for companies to understand and hone
  8                                                         the communications tools necessary
                                                                                for succeeding in this new arena.

6.viii                    IR guide                                               New web trends – social media and SEO

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