Financial services companies have been slower than their
brethren in other industries to
embrace social media, but a recent report by Boston-based
Dalbar suggests that investment firms
may finally be joining the Facebook-enthused Twitterati. In
May the independent research firm released its first-ever
ranking of social media engagement by financial services firms
(awarding them up to five stars). The winners: Ameriprise
Financial, John Hancock Financial Services, New York Life
Insurance Co. and Prudential Financial.
What does it take to be a top-ranked financial services
firm? It used to be enough to attract mega-assets while
offering a great lineup of products and excellent customer
service. Those qualities are still important, but the bar has
been raised. As Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have made
increasingly deeper inroads into the communications landscape,
fund companies have entered a new arena in which to compete
with their peers.
Everyone has skin in the game, explains Kathleen
Whalen, a principal of Dalbar, which has been vetting
investment and insurance companies, financial professionals and
retirement plan providers since 1976. This is a huge part
of how people communicate these days.
Dalbar started ranking investment companies in the 1990s on
their web site features and functionality, and it views social
media prowess as a natural extension. To ferret out the
savviest social media players, the firm undertook an in-depth
exploration of 60 companies, judging them on two criteria:
follower engagement (the average percentage of
total followers that liked, commented upon or shared) and
intentionally engaging posts (the percentage of
posts meant to initiate engagement).
The winners successes provide a road map for other
firms to follow, that is, if they want to reach an audience
that uses social media.
Were a relationship business, not just a
transactional business, says Jon Pauley, who oversees a
small team as head of digital strategy and marketing at
Ameriprise Financial. If our prospective clients are on
Facebook, thats where we need to have the
Minneapolis-based Ameriprise, with $783 billion in assets
under management, was the only investment firm to achieve a
five-star rating on its Facebook page. Those posts that
were meant to engage and actually did engage came together to
form a superstar of social engagement, according to the
John Hancock and New York Life shared top honors for their
LinkedIn presences, though each firm garnered only two stars.
Boston-based John Hancock was lauded for its skill at
soliciting comments from its followers while still
maintaining the professional attitude expected on
LinkedIn. New York Life was given credit for applying
the ideas behind their high engagement posts on other
social networks to LinkedIn.