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Analysts are using social channels to make investment decisions, says research from Brunswick

27th February 2013

Despite growing demand for banks to post information on Twitter, many are reluctant to embrace social media. According to latest research by corp comms consultancy Brunswick on investor use of digital and social media, there has been a marked increase in how investors are using social media. For example, 28 per cent of investors look into an issue based on something they have seen on Twitter.

Yet Vanessa Ho Nikolovski, managing director of PR firm Weber Shandwick in Singapore, describes how a survey on the social media presence of 50 leading banks, conducted last year by, an independent financial information portal for investors, found that most banks had made little to no effort on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Banks were accused of “hibernating” on Facebook with strategies labelled as “amateurish”.

Ho Nikolovski says that by staying silent, companies are not excluded from ongoing conversations: “The chatter continues regardless whether the brand has an official presence on social media. With a branded presence, negative comments shared on the brand’s channels can be addressed in urgency by the brand – and we¹ve seen how such negative situations can exacerbate to crises.”

Discussing how investment managers are also failing to use social sites, Tony Langham, chief executive at Lansons Communications, points out that although a quarter of people with over £50,000 to invest would prefer to communicate by digital means only with their investment manager, most investment managers in the EMEA region do not offer this option. But in the US, at least, things are better. Langham says: “In America, managers like Fidelity and Vanguard and brokers like E*Trade are leading the way.“

Langham compares this with other parts of the globe: “At senior level in EMEA region, personal experience of digital media is often second hand – for instance only four per cent of senior executives in investment firms are daily users of Twitter. Perceptions of investment managers vary from those who see digital as the future to those who see it as largely irrelevant to their company in 2013.“

To be successful, Langham says it’s time for financial firms to change integrate digital and social at all levels: “Investment managers should have a clear social media policy and should be engaging with clients, using film in their communication and creating interesting content and views. Those that do can still steal a march on their rivals.”

Why financial institutions must use social media

Jonny Mulligan, head of CSR at PR agency Unity:

“Finance by its nature is an extremely personal subject. Consumers are guarded about their earnings and savings. The public are drowning in offers and ‘best deals’ about multiple bank accounts, pensions, savings plans, ISAs, etc, and it is confusing to digest them all, making it difficult to make informed decisions. Use of social media can be a very effective brand engagement strategy, helping to simplify decisions and jargon, along with bringing direct, meaningful engagement with consumers.”

Marcus Gault, managing director of media intelligence provider Precise’s insight division:

“We are seeing financial services companies using social media in a number of ways: As a communications channel for announcements about the organisation, for listening to social conversations to understand reputation amongst consumers and as a channel for monitoring and responding to customer service issues. With tens of thousands of posts about the banking sector each day, many financial services organisations are recognising the need to listen and engage in these social channels.” 

Laura O’Connell, managing director at Wriglesworth Consultancy:

“Social media is relevant to most – if not all – sectors as it is not simply a tool to interact with customers and opinion formers but also to listen to what they are saying. Overall, we find that financial brands can be wary of social media, but when they engage, they are often pleasantly surprised and become real advocates of this communication medium.”

Matt Churchill, senior account manager at PR firm Edelman:

“We know from this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer that globally, only 43 percent of informed publics trust CEOs as credible spokespeople. Social media platforms can give leaders a platform to be transparent and to build credibility and trust. This is particularly pertinent given the struggles that financial institutions have had in recent years managing their corporate reputation. By writing a blog post or engaging on Twitter, a CEO can help to slowly shift the perception of their company. It won’t happen overnight of course, but taking small steps digitally can have a great impact in the long run.”

Written by Daney Parker

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