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The right channel & the right format

Although we’ve seen a rise in this year’s survey when it comes to looking for information about companies from independent sources, the channels the company itself controls haven’t lost their importance in any way thanks to demand and trust.

What channel?

Unsurprisingly, corporate websites are by far the most used source of information according to the results of our Capital Market Survey. When asked, 99% of the respondents state that they use corporate websites as a source of information in their profession, followed by corporate social media channels at 28%, and corporate blogs at 22%. Also, on a 5-point scale, with 1 being “Don’t trust” and 5 being “Trust completely”, corporate websites are ranked as the most trusted source, with an average score of 4.1. This places corporate websites comfortably in first place.

The corporate website is supplemented with other sources

Since the corporate website isn't the only source that holds information about companies, we asked the respondents what other sources they use in their professional capacity. As for independent online sources, the most used sources are the following (in ranking order):

  1. Databases and/or news agencies (e.g. Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters Financial)
  2. Daily business paper websites (e.g. ft.com, wsj.com)
  3. Online business magazines (e.g. businessweek.com, fortune.com)
  4. Trade press websites (Sector-related magazines, industry-specific)

Online business magazines has seen a big rise since last year's survey, with 59% of the respondents saying that they use it in their profession, compared to last year's 36%.

Looking at the respondents answers regarding independent printed sources, the most used are the following (in ranking order):

  1. Daily business papers (e.g. Financial Times, Wall Street Journal)
  2. Business magazines (e.g. Business Week, Fortune)
  3. Trade press (sector-related magazines, industry-specific)

Same as the online business magazines, we've seen a big rise in the usage of printed business magazines. 66% of the respondents say they use it in their profession, compared to last year's 40%.

99%

...of the respondents use corporate websites in their profession.

96%

...of the respondents use Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters Financial and/or other databases and news agencies in their profession. 

89%

...of the respondents use FT, WSJ and/or other daily business papers in their profession.

We also asked the respondents how often they visit these different sources. Ranked as the most visited sources are the independent sources (e.g. online/printed newspapers, news agencies websites, etc) followed by corporate websites.

To complete this picture, we also asked the respondents what level of trust they have in different sources. Corporate websites are by far the most trusted source and received an average of 4.1/5 when ranked on 1-5 point scale (1 = Don't trust, 5 = Trust completely). Independent printed sources and independent online sources was ranked an average of 3.7/5 and 3.4/5 respectively.

4.1/5

...of the respondents completely trust's the information on corporate websites.

The conclusion we draw here is that independent sources primarily act as aggregators of information, and that the companies’ own channels serve as sources to double check the news. In the age of fake news, several sources should be used to verify facts. 

Wikipedia is growing in importance

When it comes to finding general company information, Wikipedia is the go-to source after the corporate website. We will not discuss whether the online encyclopaedia is a trustworthy source or not, but the fact remains that it’s one of the most popular websites in the world. Keeping the information up-to-date on a company’s Wikipedia page is an easy way to get the right information in the hands of the stakeholders. Besides general company information, the respondents answered that they use Wikipedia to find information regarding products and services .

Updating a company’s Wikipedia page has its due diligence. Wikipedia is based on discussion and consensus and aims to be as objective as possible. Simply uploading a company introduction can result in the changes being reverted due to the material being too promotional. The best way to update a company page is going to the page in question and finding the “Talk” tab at the top of the article. Write your suggested changes with relevant sources for all claims and discuss them with the editors until consensus is achieved.

Read more about updating Wikipedia pages

LinkedIn: not only for jobs

According to our respondents, corporate profiles on LinkedIn have seen a rise in being used as a source for certain types of information compared to last year’s Capital Market Survey. The most looked for information on LinkedIn is general company information (just after Wikipedia), information about key executives, and news and press releases. We can safely say that LinkedIn isn’t only used as a recruitment platform. And companies know this. Looking back at the results from our Web Management Survey, LinkedIn was ranked the 2nd most important channel (on par with press releases, after the corporate website) when it comes to reaching their target groups. From the same survey, we can see that the five most important target groups are analysts, journalists, institutional investors, shareholders, and jobseekers.

Behaviour on social media: the audience is listening

The Capital Market audience is known for being doubtful when it comes to social media, but the numbers are slowly turning. The number of respondents that use corporate social media channels as a source of information in their profession has gone up from 21% to 28% in this year’s survey.

This doesn’t mean that they follow the companies across different channels. 44% of the respondents say that they read updates on corporate website feeds. Out of those that follows company profiles on social media, 41% follow the company’s official profile.

Taking it a step further and looking into interaction with companies on social media, the most common behaviour according to the respondents is listening in. 40% say that they just listen, and that they don’t do that every day. When asked how often they use social media as a source of information about a company, the most common choice was “At special occasions”. This includes Capital Market Days, release of reports and at times of crisis.

Do you use corporate social media channels in your profession?
%
30252015105
0
21
28
20172018

40%

...of the respondents say that they "just listen" to corporate social media channels. 

96%

General news and updates should be sent as e-mail

Asking the respondents which were the channels through which they prefer to receive news and updates about listed companies, 96% chose e-mail. This was followed by “Visit on corporate website” at 59%, and “News agencies” at 47%. Since price sensitive information is also time sensitive information for the capital market audience, these results are not surprising.

What format?

PDF vs. HTML

What information should go where according to the stakeholders from the capital market?

Starting with annual reports, information that 95% of the respondents say they access in their profession, whether it be online or offline. We asked the respondents how they read annual reports, and digital PDF is still the most common way, as it was in the previous year. This was followed by online reports (as in, its own HTML version resembling a regular website), and a printout of the report in PDF. When asked which format is preferred when reading annual reports, PDF on screen is still the primary choice according to 60% of the respondents., followed by online reports (as explained above) at 17%, which has seen an increase since last year’s 6%.

With this in mind, presenting reports in different ways is still important in order to serve all stakeholders. When asked to rate the importance of this information in a variety of formats on a scale of 1-5 (1 = not important at all, 5 very important), the respondents rated “Latest annual report in PDF” on top, “Latest interim report in PDF” as a close second, followed by “Brief online summary/highlights of the report”, and “Latest online annual report”.

As for sustainability reports, the results tell a different story. 52% of the Capital Market audience say that they don’t access information in sustainability reports, which makes it important to lift this information from PDFs to HTML. This is further developed in the article on sustainability in this report.

Video: what and for whom?

As we covered in our Web Management Report 2018, video is a powerful tool when it comes to explaining and getting a message through, but it’s not the answer to everything. The respondents for the Capital Market Survey are generally not craving video. 58% of the respondents watch videos on corporate websites within their professional capacity. From the open comments, we can see that those who don’t watch videos find them to be too PR-oriented. Those that watch videos say that they do it when they feel it could add value, provide better context, and help understanding. They also find that video oftentimes easily illustrates products and services.

The most sought-after video content by the stakeholders from the capital market is investor presentations, the CEO talking about the company and films presenting the company and business activities. As previously mentioned, video is a powerful tool, but choosing place and content is the key to adding value to your message.

Clearly state the content of videos to help the stakeholders determine if it’s of value to them or not.

52%

...of the respondents don't access the information in sustainability reports.

The search engine is the first to last option

What happens when the information the stakeholders are looking for is nowhere to be found? Hopefully, they’ll use the websites’ internal search engine, but the internal search engine isn’t only for those that end up empty handed or get lost in the search for answers. Stakeholders who already know what information they’re looking for might use it as a shortcut. As seen in the results from our Web Management Survey  this year, 59% of the respondents said that their internal search engine is one of the technical aspects they are going to focus on for the coming year. Which is a good choice, since 42% of the Capital Market Survey respondents say that they don’t get relevant search results from internal search engines.

In short: Keeping the corporate website up-to-date with content in the right format is still key to fulfilling stakeholder demands, but there are more places they will look for information. Don’t forget your Wikipedia page, LinkedIn profile and updating your newsletter subscribers!

By Timmy Fredriksson

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