Capital Markets Deal Announcements – Opportunity to Go Social?

Many financial communications professionals continue to try and wrap their arms around social media and the relevance to the financial services industry. Many retail banks have been able to use Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media venues as customer service tools to both aggregate and respond to customer complaints. Some have done this phenomenally well and been able to improve their customer service model because of this “real time” customer feedback– like Wells Fargo and USAA, for example (see below for examples). But what about the institutional side of banking – is there an opportunity for social media there? The short answer is yes.

Social media engagement cannot – and should not – happen overnight. There are regulatory implications (see here for FINRA’s Regulatory Notice for Guidance on Blogs and Social Networking sites), not to mention it is a significant time and resources investment. So how can investment banks start to engage in a safer, less time-intensive venue? A great place to start is with Social Media Press Releases (SMPRs), especially now that deal activity is on the upswing. According to Thomson Reuters data released on Friday, M&A jumped to $520.4 billion in the first quarter – an 18 percent increase worldwide from the first quarter of 2009.

SMPRs are optimized press releases that can include video segments, pictures and links to further information, providing readers with information beyond the promotional aspect of a traditional release. Interviews with key spokespeople, links to other data in a particular area or previous deal announcements are great ways to augment traditional communications. In many ways, an SMPR can serve as its own microsite, temporarily housing a wealth of information and related content – while extending the search-ability, share-ability and overall life of the announcement.

At this point time, SMPRs are largely an untapped resource in the investment banking space, but the opportunities to leverage deal activity and other news is very much alive. Social media – and the financial services industry’s participation in social media – is changing and growing by the day. We expect SMPRs to play an active part of this evolution, as it seems to provide the engagement – and security – the financial services industry demands.

For investment banks looking to use Social Media Press Releases, a good rule of thumb is to add interactivity wherever you can. SMPRs may even mark the end of text-only deal announcements.

That’s our Financial Services Practice Group’s “Two Cents” and as we continue to monitor this issue, we welcome your comments and questions below.

For more information on retail banking and social media: Check out their blog Wells Fargo Wachovia’s blog blog and their Twitter handles @Ask_WellsFargo and @Wachovia. While USAA is a little different because it is not a publicly traded company and is offered only to military personnel and their families, it is a great example of social media at its finest in a more traditional, slow-moving industry. Check out their twitter handle @USAA and USAA on Facebook.

For additional resources on implications of FINRA’s Regulatory notice, check out this previous post and guest column by Katherine Kilpatrick.

To reach Nicole:

Phone: 212.584.5473
Twitter: @nicolejleblanc
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