SAN JOSE, CA: EBay used Twitter to live blog its March 11 analyst day, possibly the first organization to do so. In preparation, the company created new social media guidelines for reporting material information that drew on the expertise of its legal and communications teams, which it announced on its blog March 6.
Chief eBay blogger Richard Brewer-Hay posted the Twitter updates throughout the analyst day. He called it a “successful” event that drew fresh audience engagement.
Brewer-Hay told PRWeek that he received many new followers after announcing what eBay planned to do. “Going into this weekend, we had 700 followers. By [the morning of March 12], we [had] over 960,” he said.
The audience included analyst firms, PR agencies, IR bloggers, and other members of the media, Brewer-Hay continued. During the course of the analyst day, he posted more than 140 Tweets.
The goal for its social media push is to become part of the conversation on all of eBay's platforms, said Jose Mallabo, director of corporate communications for eBay. Besides the eBay auction site, the company has a number of other sites and services, including PayPal and Skype.
“We... have media, analysts, [etc] that cover us, [and] we had to start engaging in... dialogue that's been happening without us,” he added.
EBay began using its blog, eBay Ink, to cover quarterly earnings results four quarters ago, and Twitter for earnings three quarters ago. However, this was the first time that it put into place its new social media guidelines, which include prefacing Tweets with cautionary language. It also launched a legal page on its blog to further describe cautionary statements.
The guidelines were developed internally. EBay works with Voce Communications on its social media strategy.
The National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) has been working with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and its members to integrate new media into the IR process. Social media gives companies “a bigger microphone,” said NIRI president and CEO Jeff Morgan. But Twitter's 140-word count poses new questions that blogs did not.
“Trying to get your message out and not creating confusion is really a challenge,” he noted.