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Survey: Social media use by institutional investors

National Public Relations of Toronto and the AMO group of financial communications agencies have released the results of an international survey of institutional investors regarding their views of social media. According to the study, 56% of institutional investors surveyed consider social media to be "not yet significant but growing in importance" as a professional tool for investors. Further, 37% said that social media, discussion forums and blogs are "a welcome innovation" in the distribution of news, while 33% of respondents said such sites are a useful source of information and 17% called them irrelevant to their work.

Of the sites most often visited for professional purposes by respondents, 39% cited investment forums, 34% cited LinkedIn, 32% cited investment blogs, 22% cited Twitter and 10% cited Facebook. Newswires remain the primary source of investor information according to 76% of respondents, with 87% calling them always or usually reliable. Social media sites were called reliable by 17% of respondents.

"The survey shows that investor relations professionals should be examining how to incorporate or expand their social media capabilities to reach institutional investors," said Peter Block, financial communications practice lead at National. "Today, investors are skeptical of the value of the information conveyed using these tools but there is widespread recognition that they will become increasingly important. Social media need not be intimidating, excessively time consuming or a risk of violating securities rules. It should be viewed as an extension of an IR program, which already responds to inquiries and engages in discussions with its investors."

The study surveyed 105 institutional investors in 12 countries.

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