There was a time when the release of your annual report followed a pretty standard path: publish a printed document, post it out to your shareholders, and release the key financial details in an earnings call or press release.
Today, there’s growing recognition that this fails to maximise the potential impact of your annual reporting.
This is a document that contains (what should be) some of the most interesting and important insights into your organisation. Your annual report is where you share the financial successes of the last year, and all your future plans. It should make your shareholders and stakeholders proud of the company they’re a part of, and excited for the future. But all too often, the annual report has been neglected as a source of engaging content.
Which is really a wasted opportunity. With marketing today all about content, and marketers struggling to keep pace with the volume of material needed for a successful content marketing strategy, you could be tapping into your annual report as a source of content to share, as well as ensuring the report’s key messages reach its intended audience.
The growth in social media as a channel for annual reports
Increasingly, companies are recognising this and turning their annual reports into something more than a dusty document to share on a one-time basis with stakeholders, then file in the ‘done’ pile. And it makes sense. When you’ve invested in the design of your annual report, and worked hard to make it stand out from the crowd, you want it to be seen.
A 2018 report by communications experts FTI Consulting found that more and more PLCs are using social media to ‘disseminate earnings information in creative and provocative ways’.
Why? Social media has a number of compelling benefits for companies wanting to promote themselves. Posting on platforms like Linkedin and Twitter:
- Creates awareness
- Builds trust and authority
- Conveys key messages in bitesize ways
- Enables readers to visualise content
- Drives traffic to your website, and to more of your content
- Provides instant metrics, enabling you to measure engagement and interest
When it can deliver all of this, it makes sense to include your annual report among the content you share on social media. To do this effectively, though, first you need to ask some questions.
1. What social media platform should I use to share my annual report?
Classically, Twitter and Linkedin have been used for business-related posts, far more than Facebook. Increasingly – and perhaps surprisingly – Instagram is increasingly being used for corporate posts, with its visual style providing a refreshing change, perhaps, from the more text-heavy Linkedin.
Different posting styles, and different assets, perform differently on each channel, so it’s worth exploring what works – more of which below.
2. What messages should I focus on?
Use your social media posts to highlight some key takeaways from your report. Financial results, strategic objectives, any new approaches to topical issues like Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).
Make the messages easy to digest – bite-sized data; snappy headlines that grab a scrolling reader’s attention; clear stats. Distilling your messaging into social media-sized snippets is actually a good test of your entire report’s clarity; if you can’t condense a core message into 240 characters, have you done a good-enough job of explaining it?
Test a number of differently-worded posts and measure reader engagement; this will enable you to finesse your approach as you go.
3. What type of media should I use?
The FTI report notes that the companies who saw most engagement with their financial results on social media ‘leveraged a variety of messaging styles — often synchronized across platforms — to speak to their audiences. Some used engaging and colorful infographics to package up data and catch the eye of end-users’.
And don’t just stick to the tried-and-tested either – there are a surprising number of ways to share financial and other reporting. The FTI research found that ‘the ROI of investing in original content makes the difference between your message being read and engaged with versus being scrolled right by’.
Have you thought about:
- Videos picking out key report highlights
- Live streams summarising important data
- Quotes from your CEO or board
- Infographics that make key financial takeaways ‘snackable’
Presenting your information in a way that makes it more engaging and shareable is a sure-fire way to increase readership of your report.
4. How often should I post?
As with all content, as a marketer sharing it, you’ll become familiar (dare we say bored?) with it far sooner than your audience. The fast-moving nature of Twitter means that your message may only be seen by a fraction of your intended audience the first time it’s posted.
Once you’ve crafted your posts and created the supporting assets, make good use of them!
Don’t be afraid to share regularly over a set time-frame. Remember there may be an embargo on your report’s content if you’re sharing financial data on an earnings call, so be sensitive to that. But once your data’s in the public domain, share away, testing the variety of posts you’ve drafted to measure engagement and fine-tune your strategy.
Use social media to elevate your annual report
Social media, then, can play a key role in getting your annual report out there: driving readership, amplifying key messages and raising awareness of your corporate achievements even among people who may never read your full report.
Of course, all this is contingent on the document in question – the report itself. There’s no point creating a winning social media campaign if the annual report it promotes is sub-optimal, in content or design.
Perivan’s team of shareholder communications experts have years of experience in producing annual reports, with expertise in design, publication and digital solutions for shareholder communications, including annual reports. Find out more and get in touch to see how we could help you.
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