What is at once the lightest and the heaviest thing in the world? Stock prices. For, even imaginary rumors can lift them and when they fall, even Hercules cannot hold them. The bulls, eternal optimists, are on a perpetual struggle to push prices up, while the mauling bears throw their weight behind efforts to hammer them. And, these epic struggles of opposing forces, help stocks find their equilibrium, the optimal price.
Needless to say, the dissemination of information, especially which is there in the public domain, is of critical importance for such a battle to reach its rightful conclusion. And warring sides have been known to use every trick in the book to make such information available and widely circulated in the domain so that the users can take decisions based on them, leading to the making or breaking of the price.
And it is not just broking houses that are the only sources of such information – financial institutions, high net-worth individuals, individual analysts, fund managers, corporate entities and even small investors add to the process. From stories planted in the media to hand crafted “research reports”, the weapons put on use to deliver the warhead with an intention to cause maximum impact too are sophisticated and myriad.
However, unknown to many, this cushy system is undergoing a tectonic shift, thanks to the proliferation of social media. Today, stock prices and indices are mostly accessed in the handheld devices. And the social media is increasingly becoming the chosen platform for holding conversation and accessing information.
Imagine, even a few years back, sending out a Research report, replete with impressive graphics, charts that nobody understood and equally dense ratio’s was enough to snare the hapless. The media was didactic, making observations and recommendations that they had no obligation to justify and could get away with their holier than thou attitude. Today no more. The investors are empowered to a very great extent and are not afraid to ask questions – even pointed and addressed to kill. Grievances are no more voices in the wilderness of stock market grievance cells and the online community is abuzz with complaints for all to see and take cautionary steps. Make a tall claim and chances are that your bluff will be called, often in real time.
What should Corporates and Broking Houses do then?
Accept that Social Media is the future and take steps to bolster your presence. And when you take the plunge, do the whole hog. Bunk that “my Fufha ji’s grandson knows how to do facebook, so why hire a professional” attitude. Codify your Social Media Policy and sincerely go about the business with the seriousness it deserves. It’s your brand that people are talking about out there and whatever you do, you are not doing it right by not being there, or by just being smug at the knowledge that you have a website that was last updated in 1996!
Be Honest. As opposed to you sending out information with blocked channels of feedback of yore, the social media space is a living, thriving community where innumerable entities are not only qualified to challenge your statements but are increasingly becoming activist. The case in point is a proposed merger of an entity – used to the old ways selling stakes to a group entity to merge it back with a view towards filling the promoter’s coffers for decades at an end with no one to challenge – is now facing the flack with the social media abuzz with “experts” pointing out the futility of such moves and hinting at a possible scheme to hoodwink the minority shareholders.
Engage. People talking about you are interested parties. Engage them in conversations. You will never find a more fulfilling and direct way of winning friends and influencing people.
Accept the fact that social media engagement is an extension of your corporate communication and brand building exercise. Do not leave your citadels empty at any time. Do not run away in the face of criticism or when the disgruntled bring in the vitriol. On the contrary, face the complaints, explain how it is human to be wrong and take rectifying steps. Learn to apologize in public, own up and make up. Use the negative vibes to show your face of concern and convert users to loyalists.
Innovate. Social media is evolving faster than a blink and your response should also be real time for you to ride this wave into tomorrow. Remember, it is across platforms and necessarily multi media. One therefore has to take a holistic view that does away with the Press Release pushing attitude. It’s Rome and you better do things the way Romans do.
Social Media Integration is not cheap. Like every good thing in life, social media is not cheap. The “computer” guy who sells broadband connection is not the one who can give you a killer social media profile. Bunk that route and seek out the masters. And there is reason why.
SEO is dead. Meta tagging and keyword stuffing and for that matter back linking to popular dating and adult sites is what most entry level providers of SEO services do. Problem is, these methods are about a hundred year old in terms of social media time. The Search Engines that are crawling the world wide web with their ultra tomorrow algorithms, even as you read this, are state of the art and there is no reason to believe that what Google or Bing spends millions of Dollars to build and maintain can be waylaid by the cheapest vendor offering you the service from his shack off the footpath of nowhere.
Content is king. At the end of the day, it is what you say and how you say it that matters. Make sure that your content is good enough for people to talk about and your recommendations are solid enough for others to recommend. If you are Lord Krishna and are saying stuff that becomes content of timeless pieces like the Bhagwad Gita, you don’t need to worry much. Anything short of that and the advice is, clean up your act and stress on the content.
However, even doing a Lord Krishna is not enough. You will also need a disciple of Arjuna’s stature to pick up the bow and wage the war of your creation – a war that will lead to the complete annihilation of the enemy in front. But that is another story. If you want that story enacted for you, you better show us the money, honey. Be my honey, bunny!