Forget the pile of statistics and the obligatory CEO-words about the year that has passed. The time when the annual report was an internal matter for accountants and investors is over – instead companies have begun to see the possibilities. Annual reports are already today powerful marketing tools and have in many ways reached big success by making use of social media and their own channels to spread the content.
A big interest for annual reports
The reasons behind the increased interest are many. Not least have the media’s expectations for a well-made annual report changed. There are a number of yearly competitions that award form and content, and high placements give much desired attention. Swedish annual reports have been top of the international league for a long time back, and regularly win prizes. Companies have realized that the annual report can be a communication channel far beyond the traditional target group and an integrated part of the other marketing activities – a real goodwill maker.
More sustainability reports
The regulations on an EU-level have been tightened, for example through the Transparency Directive. This places higher demands on clarity, factual structure and, as the name implies, transparency. This has lead to more comprehensive and complex documents, where a more pedagogical presentation is necessary. The reasoning around a responsible business and ethical questions has been moved up on the agenda. The increased interest for environmental questions have at the same time made, for example, sustainability reports to a natural element for many.
The internet takes over
An important player is of course also the internet, where the most exciting developments happen. From being seen as a good complement to the printed, physical version, the roles are soon swapped. In connection with digital presentations possibilities are widening, and the focus will shift to everyman’s computer. Many companies are still satisfied by letting the net version be a statistical, scanned-in pdf, but more and more people are begining to see the potential.
Social media and content marketing
Many companies are looking everywhere for interesting content to use in their own channels and social media. At the same time they have spent hundreds of hours and engaged many coworkes, often across the world, to gather valuable information to their annual and sustainability reports. By using the content in the form of useful facts and interesting reports these can ofte be easily adapted to new target groups via new channels. It’s about using the resources in the right way and building your communication on material that has already been scrutinized and approved by the management. A strong trend within annual and sustainability reports is the use of storytelling where the company’s employees get a chance to speak and interesting value-building projects are highlighted. These are excellent examples of content that fit perfectly in social media.
Ericsson is a good example
Ericsson is a good example of a company that uses their annual and sustainability reports in social media. Within the sustainability area they have more than 100 000 followers on Facebook on their page ”Technology for Good” where the basis for the content of the site comes from the sustainability report. Many also work a lot with films on Youtube to show interesting and beneficial projects they are involved in across the world. Twitter, Flickr, the own blog and Pinterest are examples of other channels where they use the contents of the annual and sustainability reports.
Already in the start-up phase of the annual and sustainability report it’s important to think through in what channels the content is to be spread so that it can be adapted to market the reports themselves. Also consider how you best mirror the different types of content to get the optimal coverage. Think films, interviews, ten tips, how-to guides, animations, challenges etc. You will be surpised by how many interesting facts the company has to communicate with their annual and sustainability reports as the base, in the right channels and with the right angle.
If you would like to know more about annual reports and content marketing you are very welcome to get in touch.