The fund industry goes social part 2 | The conversation in Luxembourg

Software concept: cloud of program iconsEarlier this month, I participated in the social media panel at the ALFI Global Distribution Conference (in association with NICSA and the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association), together with Baldwin Berges of Silk Invest, Mary Hunter Hieronimus of Thomson Reuters and moderator Troy Bankhead of KNEIP.

Last week we posted part 1 of my responses to questions posed by Troy and members of the audience during the session. Here is part 2:

Q: How do companies “get started” in social media? Who kicks it off?

Theresa: I know how they shouldn’t get started – which is with a senior executive answering a question at a conference by saying that they don’t understand social media, don’t have a Facebook page themselves and leave all of that to the young people. I’ve heard those statements surprisingly often.

Obviously, it’s hard for any kind of initiative to get started with that kind of tone at the top. Senior executives need to invest some time here.

A better way to start would be to think about what the firm is trying to achieve through social media and set some goals.

Q: How do you get an idea of what those goals should be? Isn’t there a disconnect between the B2C and B2B worlds?

Theresa: Absolutely. Social media was designed for consumer to consumer communication, and it’s been adapted pretty well for business to consumer communications, but most asset managers are operating in a business to business world.

If you read a social media blog, they’ll talk a lot about “engagement” – which includes things like comments on blogs, retweets and Likes on Facebook. They’re the measure of success in the B2C social media world.

But engagement is very hard to come by in the B2B world that we operate in. People don’t want to comment on blogs when they’re at work, or their employers may prohibit them from doing so.

So firms may need to watch what others are doing and develop their own rules.

For example, while Facebook is the biggest social media channel in the world, it is not one of the top channels for fund sponsors in the U.S. Instead, the top 3 are:

  • LinkedIn. Most firms allow their employees to maintain a LinkedIn profile even if they block business social media use otherwise.
  • Twitter, which is used almost like a press release channel.
  • YouTube. Videos are more of a tool than a channel, but they’re becoming increasingly important.

Q: Any other words of advice?

Theresa: Have patience. You won’t get tons of comments or retweets on your first posts. It was 18 months before NICSA saw any significant results from its social media program.

NICSA: 8400 Westpark Drive, 2nd Floor McLean, VA 22102 • Tel: 508.485.1500 • Fax: 508.485.1560