A Reminder in Light of the SEC’s Approval of the Use of Social Media

Yesterday, the SEC issued a press release stating that corporations could make use of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to “announce key information in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) so long as investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information.”

This is a long overdue step by the SEC in acknowledging that the way the public gets its information has evolved and Twitter and Facebook are legitimate outlets for disseminating key information.

But in all the excitement, we shouldn’t lose sight of what our goal as communicators should be. We want as many people as possible to see the information we have to present. More and more, people are using outlets like Twitter and Facebook as their primary sources of information. But not everybody has fully embraced social media, and many (if not most) people still use traditional outlets to get their news.

In light of the SEC announcement, we think it is important to reiterate our belief that Twitter and Facebook are excellent complements to traditional news distribution. Distribution through social media will certainly increase the amount of people seeing your information and possibly make it more impactful. But it shouldn’t be viewed as the sole distribution method for key information.

When you are a company like Netflix, you have a lot of eyes on you at all times, and a piece of key information presented through Twitter or Facebook will quickly be picked up by the media and reported in a way that will ensure broad awareness. But most companies don’t get that level of attention and it’s unlikely that the media is monitoring their Facebook pages.

As IR professionals, we wouldn’t ever want to be on the receiving end of a phone call from a large shareholder who is irate that they didn’t see an important piece of information because it was sent out via Twitter or a Facebook post rather than a press release.

So go ahead and start using your Twitter accounts and Facebook pages more prominently. Just play it safe and send out a press release with the same information too. It’s the best way to keep everyone in the loop.