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March 8th, 2009

How to Tweet Material News

eBay: How to 'Tweet' Material News

So here’s the deal: if you work for a public company and are interested in extending the application and use of Twitter for corporate news — this post is for you.

So late last week, our client at eBay, Richard Brewer-Hay, decided to share the backstory on something eBay’s PR and legal teams have been chewing on for a few months now — and that’s the development of guidelines and a set of SEC disclosure best practices that outline how eBay (well, any public company, really) can successfully (err, legally) use Twitter to share material news.

If you read Richard’s post, you’ll see these guidelines were born out of his desire (and his history) of using eBay’s corporate Twitter account to “live tweet” the company’s quarterly earnings calls — something that’s been increasingly catching the attention of industry influencers, media, enthusiasts, etc, who wouldn’t otherwise have participated or tuned in to the actual earnings calls. And yes, as Richard indicates, this activity also, for better or worse, caught the attention of eBay’s corporate IR, PR and legal teams.

It turns out, this was for the better…

The easy, protectionist response would have been to just stop doing this, shut down the account and move on. But thankfully it didn’t, instead, the IR/PR/Legal groups within eBay all came together to figure out a way that concerns regarding disclosure and cautionary statements — especially pertaining to quarterly earnings calls — could all be addressed with the development of this simple legal page (which is now a permanant extension of eBay’s corporate blog, eBay Ink), and maybe more interesting, I think, are the ‘twitter sized’ (140-character) disclosure statements they co-developed. You can read them here.

While we all wait for the SEC to further bake its guidance for disclosure on the web, something it introduced at a surface-level last July, I believe what eBay’s done here might help shape and inform the SEC’s thinking in the interim, as well as provide other public companies with a good working model for material disclosure via emerging practices, like microblogging, livestreaming and the like…

About the Author
Mike Manuel is the GM of Voce Connect, the social media marketing and web development arm of Voce Communications. In between managing this team and overseeing Voce's digital programs, he'll post a thought or two on mike-manuel.com and via @mmanuel on Twitter.

Filed in Blogging, Microblogging, Public Relations, Social Media, Voce Clients

Add Your Comment3 Responses to “How to Tweet Material News”

Annie on March 10th, 2009 at 10:46 am

Tweeting an earnings call is asking for trouble.

Jennifer McQuiston on March 10th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Interesting case study in the making, thanks for sharing.

Mike Manuel on March 10th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

@Annie – not any more.