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.