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Australian asset managers fall behind their global counterparts on social

Missing an opportunity

As study after study demonstrates, social media is key in the consideration phase for investors today, even for high net worth individuals and institutions. Yet according to new social media benchmarking conducted by The Dubs, the 10 leading asset managers in Australia maintain a low profile on social, particularly in comparison to their global counterparts. The Dubs social media director, Andrew Frith and executive creative director, Tristan Fawley explore the reasons why.

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The Dubs benchmark and ranking of the social activity of the 10 leading Australian asset managers was determined by examining their social reach (number of followers and subscribers) and activity measures (number of posts, tweets and videos) across the major social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

When observed as a whole, the group is conservative on social media, posting infrequently (on average, fewer than 20 posts per month across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube). Many don’t use the full range of channels at their disposal: only seven funds have Twitter profiles, with LinkedIn being the only channel they all have in common.

The Dubs social media director and benchmark’s author, Andrew Frith says the results show a surprising lack of activity. “Their overseas counterparts – asset managers in Europe and the US, are really active on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube,” he says. Looking back at The Dubs 2017 social media report for comparison, the top 10 global asset managers were averaging 134 social posts per month.

Tristan Fawley, executive creative director for The Dubs UK, supports the view that the UK market is more mature. “More asset managers are utilising comprehensive content programmes distributed through social media. Not all are using paid social amplification, but most do see the value of their content and are expanding how they distribute it via social media.”

When reviewing the content posted across the Australian asset managers’ social channels, Frith observed that the group favours safe and more predictable topics – corporate affairs announcements, as well as information on portfolio strategies and market commentary. Across the 10 firms analysed, content is “same-same”.

“They’re not looking at what they could do that’s unique,” says Frith. “They have a wealth of data and IP that could be turned into content, but they’re only letting out a trickle.”

The missed social media opportunity

According to research published in LinkedIn’s 2020 Financial Services playbook, investors have embraced social media as a research tool.

  • 98% of investors use social platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to inform investment decisions on a weekly basis.
  • 86% of investors say they consult a company or an executive’s social media channels when evaluating a current or prospective investment.
  • Companies engaged on social media are 40% more likely to be perceived as competitive.

Other studies support LinkedIn’s findings. A 2015 report released by Greenwich Associates – Institutional Investing in the Digital Age: How Social Media Informs and Shapes the Investing Process found that 80% of institutional investors frequently used social media platforms at work. Nearly one-third of those investors confirmed that the information they consumed through social media had impacted their investment decisions, which in some cases could result in the allocation of hundreds of millions of investment dollars.

Clearly there is an argument for Australian asset managers to ramp up their social activity. “When you look at their average engagement per post in our list of 10 firms, the numbers are good,” Frith says. “Analysing engagement per thousand followers, some firms are getting more than 100 engagements per thousand followers; Fidante Partners scored 300. There’s a captive audience ready and waiting for the asset managers who commit to an always-on social content program. “The audience is there and they’re using social media as their source of truth for investing.”

Clearly there is an argument for Australian asset managers to ramp up their social activity.

Why so reticent, Australia?

According to Fawley, traditional businesses like asset managers are slow to adapt to audience behavioural change. To react to these shifts, businesses often need to change internal teams, reallocate budgets and implement longer-term strategies. These all require organisational restructure which is complicated and requires C-suite focus to drive them forward.

Another explanation posited by Frith is that marketers in asset management often have different backgrounds and skill sets than those you might find in consumer banking or other brands with a retail focus. Asset management marketers might find social media a bit discomfiting.

“This conservatism might hark back to 2008 and the fallout from the global financial crisis,” says Frith. “There’s a fear of negative publicity. If you’re going to commit to social media, you want to feel like you’re on the right footing with enough resources to manage your channels – so you can answer questions and criticism and respond to crises.”

Active social channels also need to be supported by quality content streams including video. “If you want to do more than just publish your media releases, it requires investment in internal content production or third-party agencies,” Frith says.

Fawley agrees that content quality needs to be high “All too often, poor quality content is accepted and always fails in the long-term,” he says.

The way forward for Australian asset managers: a leap of faith

Frith believes it’s time for asset managers to throw off their post-GFC mindsets, boost their social media presence and activity, and go after audiences.

“Engagement rates already show they could be doing more – imagine that level of engagement but with bigger audiences,” he says.

Engagement rates already show they could be doing more – imagine that level of engagement but with bigger audiences.

Firms will also need to streamline their internal approval and compliance processes to allow a freer flow of content, and ensure they have tracking and robust systems of measurement set up to prove ROI.

“Some asset managers don’t even have CRM frameworks in place,” Frith says. “If they can’t track the success of campaigns, they don’t have the proof points to show their C-suite.”

When all those ducks are lined up, asset managers can start to turn their internal IP and data – that currently never sees the light of day, into a sustained program of content marketing with a publishing frequency that builds trust and credibility.

For global and Australian asset managers that don’t have the internal resources to achieve such a program, The Dubs can help with services including:

  • Content and social media strategy, social media governance, research and training
  • Website content optimisation
  • Content production and format guidelines (editorial, video, podcasts, data visualisation)
  • Content packaging (structure, imagery, headline optimisation, digital charting)
  • Social media planning (market and audience definition, channel set up)
  • Social media planning (audience targeting, budget planning)
  • Always-on execution (advert creation, bid tracking, daily optimisation) – and
  • Reporting (monthly reporting, benchmarking reports)

Learn more about what we do or get in touch.

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Susan Burchill
Susan has been a professional writer for 25 years. Today she is a content marketing specialist and occasionally, a copywriter, fulfilling briefs ranging from blogs, scripts and LinkedIn content to longer-form white papers and thought leadership. Her clients have included some of the biggest consultancies, tech companies, media and finance brands in the world. With a background in television - music, the arts, factual - she crosses genres regularly, writing for TV networks and producing video as required. She also writes about sustainability, her passion project.