C-Suite execs need to up their game on social if they want to keep investors close

88% of investors make decisions based on information from digital sources, says Brunswick's Digital Investor Survey

These days, communicators are drowning in a sea of often dubious data documenting how consumers are using digital and social media platforms, but there is far less information and insight into investor behavior. For businesses communicating during their most sensitive and complex situations, insight into how the investment community gathers and processes information is crucial for success.

Brunswick’s Digital Investor Survey has been tracking digital and social media behavior of buy-side investors and sell-side analysts around the world for a decade. It’s designed to provide perspective on how this audience is consuming information online and the implications for how companies communicate.

According to this year’s survey, digital usage among investors for research is now ubiquitous, with 98% reporting that they use digital sources to investigate and conduct research. Moreover, most investors (88%) are making decisions based on information they have learned online. This is up from 70% last year and represents a huge change since 2015, when only 41% made investment decisions from digital sources.

Before we turn to the details of this year’s results, a note about terminology: In this report, ‘digital’ refers to any information source, publisher or platform that lives solely online. ‘Social media platforms’ refer to a subset of digital sources where users can consume, share and discuss information. Also, on methodology: the survey was conducted among 318 buy-side investors and sell-side analysts from major institutions in the U.S., UK, Europe and Asia. Fieldwork took place in October and November 2018

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New in 2019: Investors Want to Hear from the CEO via Digital

The biggest story from this year’s survey is the rapid evolution in investors’ expectations for top executives. Half of investors say that they now use digital to learn what CEOs are saying, a dramatic 21 point increase over last year. That increase is especially significant among sell-side analysts, 59% of whom now say that they use digital to stay connected with CEOs. 

While typical use cases like sector research, company news, and market information remain more common, the desire of investors to rely on digital to hear directly from senior executives is particularly significant. It suggests that executives who lack a strong, personal digital profile and content strategy are creating a new communications risk. As a practical matter, building an effective individual digital profile is not just an essential component in a successful investor relations strategy, it is now a necessity for maintaining shareholder value and competing with peers that are more active in digital and social media.

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Read the full piece here. For the methodology for the survey, click here.