Did Sunoco Fall Off or Completely Miss the Bandwagon?

Now that we have considered the information I have found from researching BP, Exxon, Chevron, and Shell, I have come across a gas and oil company website that hardly incorporates any social media. Sunoco has a strong shareholder tab on its main website that allows investors to retrieve financial information like online annual reports. This is the extent of Sunoco’s social media use with its shareholders though. How does this seem possible? With today’s technology, and the ability for a company to be somewhat technological savvy with its shareholders, Sunoco is being ignorant to the changing times of corporations using social media.

With Twitter and Facebook sweeping the nation, how does a company build credibility without giving in to at least one of the two of these? From the article A Descriptive Account of the Investor Relations Profession, in order to build strong relationships with shareholders companies must allow for two-way communication. Using social media that provides the financial information to shareholders, and allowing the shareholders to provide feedback is what allows for trust in the company from the shareholder. Sunoco is failing miserably at being transparent for the shareholder. Providing financial information through social media online can be dangerous for a company, but not providing financial information through social media is even more dangerous because you lack transparency and opportunities to build trust.

Sunoco is showing the complete opposite of my last posts on corporations using social media to communicate with its shareholders. IR Web Report shows that some companies are not willing to use social media with shareholders. Though many companies have “jumped on the bandwagon”, many companies are also still too hesitant and unwilling. As a college student, and the fact that I have grown up using social media as a tool to communicate, I think it is completely foolish for companies to resist using social media with shareholders. Since the SEC has ruled for making all financial information public information, corporations are now just being ignorant to the change in communication. Companies like Sunoco who are hesitant to use social media to communicate financial information should look into StockTwits. StockTwits is a website like Twitter that is used by shareholders and corporations to discuss financial information in a more controlled setting. This would at least be a start for the company.

Through the research I have conducted I have found some great corporations who are strongly, yet slowly, jumping into using social media to communicate with their shareholders. We have now also seen with Sunoco the opposite effect of a company being ignorant. Sunoco should start “jumping on the bandwagon” before the company gets pushed out due to social ignorance.

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Shell Actually Implements a Blog!

My research is continuing in the area of corporations communicating with shareholders through social media. My next major oil and gas company that deals with shareholders and corporations using social media is Shell. I have hit on most of the major areas of corporations using social media with shareholders, but Shell adds a different element. Shell has a non-commercial blog that is aimed at making officials stand in compliance with Shell’s mission statement. Of course, the one major part of this is that Shell blogs a good amount about the financial end of the company. Shell also has a live news feed, and a webcast that can be accessed. This is a huge step, and a step above many of the other companies. From IR Web Report, using webcasts can allow for all types of shareholders to understand the financial information they are receiving. Blogging allows for feedback and two-way communication, which is what builds the relationships between the shareholders and the corporations.

It is very hard for companies to want to use social media as a means of communicating and disclosing information to its shareholders. From the case study Communicating Corporate Responsibility to Investors: The Changing Role of Investor Relations Function, the study helps to reiterate that companies need time to adjust to this new concept of releasing all financial information through the internet using social media. The financial problems that can occur by using social media place the companies in possible jeopardy. Shell has definitely taken a bigger leap into using social media with investors, and overtime the corporation will see the benefits of their actions.

Not only does Shell have a blog, Shell also has an investor section on their website that breaks down the online annual reports and all financial information. The down fall to this, like most corporate websites, is the lack of feedback as a function from the investors. Shell also has a Twitter and a Facebook. The Facebook page is a nice feature because it allows for multimedia to be used and for feedback, but many of the posts are not directed toward shareholders, and most the of language used on Shell’s Facebook page is not in English. Twitter is a big social media tool used by Shell to communicate with its shareholders. IR Web Report provides a chart that shows Twitter is the top used social media site by shareholders and corporations with Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube following. Twitter is a great tool for social media, but Shell does not link to their Twitter or Facebook page from their website which is a problem. There should not only be a link on the homepage of the website, but also in the investors’ page, considering financial information is posted on there.

Shell is definitely making headway past BP, Exxon, and Chevron with implementing the blog, but some work still needs to be done in connecting social media to their main site. If shareholders cannot find the social media, what is the point in using it to try to communicate with them?

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Chevron Advancing Using Social Media With Shareholders?

As I continue to do research on corporations using social media to communicate with their investors, I am beginning to see a pattern of companies using different styles of social media to communicate, and which ones seem to be more up to speed with today’s usage of social media. BP and Exxon are both slowly moving towards using more social media to communicate with their shareholders, but after researching Chevron, I saw a different usage of social media, and that usage is through online annual reports instead of just printed annual reports. This may seem like a no brainer, but this has just started becoming a new way to present the annual report to investors. Let me explain the process of how this started.

Corporations are hesitant to put financial information online because this causes the corporation to be transparent. Investors like corporations to be transparent because by knowing the full financial information about a company, the investors and the corporations can build strong relationships. Luckily for the shareholders, the SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, passed an amendment in 2000 called the Fair Disclosure regulation. The regulation stated that all financial information had to be made public. From the regulation came The Companies Act in 2006 as stated by IR Society, which allowed the reports to be put online.

Chevron has done a great job of using the online feature for their annual report. Under the Investors tab on Chevron’s website is a tab for Financial Information, and then a tab for Annual Reports. The Annual Reports section allows for you to read the reports online or print them out, but also includes videos that encapsulates the information and links to information that helps support the financial reports. Chevron is using a lot of great characteristics on their annual reports section to make it interactive, but they are missing a few key points. Chevron should be using podcasts to help support some of the areas, like the Chairmen’s Letter, and mainly, there should be a feedback section for the investors. All of the information in the financial section is important, but the investors should be able to give feedback in the area where they are receiving the information. Shareholders are one of the most important aspects to the company, if not the most, and so their voice should be heard. BP and Exxon have online annual reports as well, but there reports have minimal multimedia and social media usage. There reports basically have the availability of viewing the report online or by PDF. Chevron goes a step above the two companies and uses multimedia, like video, to help support the information they are portraying.

This step up in using social media to communicate with shareholders helps to show that corporations are starting to “jump on the bandwagon”. Chevron also uses Twitter and Facebook, which helps to give investors more of the two-way communication, but usually the messages on these two social media are not tailored toward investors. Another area of social media Chevron has adapted to is using YouTube. Chevron has posted multiple videos, including ones that are linked on their investor section of their website. The nice thing about YouTube is that you can comment below the video. This is not necessarily the best form of two-way communication, but it allows the investors to have a voice. Lastly, Chevron has a blog. The blog is not specifically tailored to shareholders, which I think would be a great idea for all corporations to have a blog strictly tailored to shareholders, but in some of their blogs they report some financial information. Unfortunately, it seems as though Chevron does not keep up with their blog since it has not been updated since 2008. It is a big mistake for companies to disregard certain aspects of social media, especially today when somebody else is putting the information on the internet as soon as it happens.

Chevron is doing a good job, at least better than most gas and oil companies, on using social media to communicate with their shareholders, but good is not enough. If corporations want to make an impact, and build strong relationships with their shareholders, social media is going to need to make a bigger presence.

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Is Exxon Pushing Past BP Using Social Media?

Twitter seems to be sweeping the nation in corporations as a strong social media tool. Blogging is something I think all companies need to be taking part in. Like BP, Exxon uses Twitter to communicate information, but Exxon also uses a blog, ExxonMobil’s Perspective’s. Of course, there is every category on the blog that every possible person who is interested in Exxon would like to know about the company except for shareholders. Financial information is not given out on their blog or twitter, shocking! Not at all, every company I have been researching so far has disappointed me on their lack of communicating with shareholders via social media. I will give Exxon a thumbs up by allowing shareholders to receive email alerts with the newest financial information from their website Exxon.com. Exxon is taking steps in the right direction in getting information to their shareholders, but email alerts are not good enough. Email alerts do not allow the shareholders to respond and have input which is what builds the relationships with the shareholders. Also, Exxon only has a fan page on Facebook, not even a Facebook page to find out information. It is important to have a facebook page because it allows multiple levels of social media communication. IR Web Report agrees that having multiple levels of social media in one web page really helps the corporations image, and Exxon needs to make a Facebook. Compared to BP though, Exxon has “jumped on the bandwagon” as I continue to put it, with at least having a corporate blog and email alerts for their shareholders.

I understand Exxon being a little hesitant to use social media, like BP, Exxon was subject to a fake twitter account was made in their name and the account caused some commotion, but damage was minimal if nothing. If companies choose to not use social media with shareholders because of possible risks, well then they should probably think of the risks they take every day and the possible consequences with those because everything could have a possible bad ending. Nothing in life is a given, and you can either try to play it safe with everything and not get anywhere in the corporate world, or corporations like Exxon can continue to be persistent and partake in social media use to build relationships. By ignoring the idea of using social media, you can start slowly saying goodbye to your shareholders.

Now, as I am blogging about the importance of using social media to build relationships with shareholders, I am not trying to say that this should be the main way corporations communicate with their shareholders. I am stating that this should be used in congruence with all other ways of releasing financial information in order to give shareholders a voice. Giving somebody a voice and allowing them to have an opinion is one of the strongest ways to build trust. Studies done by Aeron Davis on how social media impacts shareholder relationships has shown that using social media as another way to communicate with shareholders can have strong outcomes for the company in the long run. Exxon has clearly given thought to this with even just starting a blog. Now, Exxon just needs to start tailoring some of their blogs to talking about the financial ends. If you can have a section for everybody else and every other department, it’s about time Exxon has a section for one of the most important aspects to the corporation, the financial aspect.

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BP Using Social Media With Investor Relations?

As I have recently stated in my previous post, many companies are jumping on the bandwagon of using social media to build shareholder relationships. Well, most isn’t everyone, and one of these companies not jumping on the bandwagon is BP. Now I am not saying BP does not use social media, they just do not use it with their shareholders. Everyone has heard of the BP oil spill that happened in the Gulf. This being one of the biggest disasters recently has caused multiple problems for BP and their investors. In a world today where we are technically savvy, it is easier and faster to get information, especially bad information out to everybody! Unfortunately for BP, when the crisis hit so did their relationships with their shareholders.

BP is currently working on improving their image, as well as getting more financial support. Currently, BP does micro blogging through Twitter, which is what they have been using to help with some of the problems the oil spill has caused. Unfortunately, problems can arise with using social media, like a fake account in the company’s name placing information on the page that could cause damage, which happened to BP on Twitter. However, damage control for this tends to happen fast. BP uses Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc., but only to talk to everybody but the shareholders. To me, this makes no sense. One of the biggest assets, the shareholders, receives no information via social media. BP, in a time of crisis you should be thinking how to build the relationships with the shareholders, especially with the way technology is being used these days to provide information. Shareholders are going to get BP through this mess, and so far BP has not done much to include their shareholders in the mainstream communication technology on the Internet. IR Web Report shows that companies are being ignorant by communicating to every audience via social media other than shareholders. Now I am not saying BP does not communicate with their shareholder on the Internet, on BP’s website, there is a section for investors, which helps to explain the current financial situation, but this does not allow for the investors to respond. A section for shareholders is nice, but I am sure they do not update this every day, nor does it allow for shareholders to respond using social media. I feel it is a necessity to include shareholders, especially when going through a crisis because the people who are putting their money into a company want to have a voice. By BP not using the advantages of social media to help build relationships again with their shareholders are causing themselves to stay stuck in their own mess.

Luckily for BP, some newspaper websites do have interactive areas for investors to respond to BP’s situation and decisions for financial purposes. From the online edition of The Daily Telegraph, the writers discussed the current financial situation of BP, and their state of trying to receive financial help. This is good because people can at least have some idea of the current financial situation, and investors could possibly respond to this if they want. This site can also be linked to social media accounts like Twitter. Unfortunately though, BP does not produce this, nor is it going to be constantly updated by BP. From a social media standpoint, BP is slow to get started. Though some financial aspects do not necessarily need to be on a social media website, BP should have a blog to constantly be updating those that are providing the money to help BP. BP does provide an entire section on their website for shareholders that consist of reports and earnings, but like I mentioned earlier, this does not allow for feedback, they are just reports. BP needs to realize that there shareholders need to constantly be updated and knowing every move because without them the company would have a hard time existing.

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Why is Social Media Important for Shareholders?

As a college student, and as I learn more about corporations and how they work, I wonder how corporations build strong relationships with their shareholders. Besides making sure the financial ends of the company is on point, how do companies build relationships with their shareholders? After doing some research, I have found that companies are starting to use social media when dealing with shareholder relationships. In fact, if shareholders are not using social media in their company, it could cause some severe problems in the future because social media is quickly becoming our future and our way of interacting.

Though some companies are starting to use social media when dealing with shareholders, many others choose to snub social media. Unfortunately, this is putting companies in some danger of hurting the company in the long run. This idea can be seen in the IR Web Report on how this hurts the company, and why this needs to change. I personally agree this needs to change, I feel investors and shareholders should want to build stronger relationships, and should want to move the company forward using social media to make sure they understand and are on-board with all aspects of the company.

One major problem with investors not jumping into the social media move is that people in the company besides shareholders are being brought in to use social media for the shareholders. To me, that would be the first flag that something is not right as a shareholder. Somebody should not be using social media to put sensitive information out on the Internet that I know about. This can cause so many problems and dangerous situations for the company. Luckily though, many companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

Companies that jumped into using social media early on, have really adapted to the idea of using social media with shareholders. The IR Web Report website shows that social media has helped companies with their shareholders. The companies that use these venues to send out and discuss information have found this to be a positive avenue. The usage of avenues provided by social media by the companies with shareholders has increased! To me, yes, there may be some risk to putting information online, but just know how far to go with the information you are putting out there. Some of the “avenues” as I stated above have been Twitter, Facebook company pages, and YouTube. There are other ways companies can use social media as well, especially with shareholders. Companies can do online media newsrooms, and one of the biggest things I think companies really need to start utilizing are blogs for shareholders. Blogs allow for shareholders to receive the most recent financial information from the company, as well as to respond the postings to have a voice. Companies are really starting to utilize these to build relationships with their shareholders. There needs to be a level of clarity and visibility for a company’s shareholders, and with the way technology is moving, it is time that every company jumps on this bandwagon!

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