May 2015

OPINION: 140-character study

Fiona RintoulUnexpected item iN the bagging area” bleats the automatic checkout in the supermarket. As usual, I have dropped my keys or gloves or newspaper bought in another shop in the sacred area reserved for shopping and bags that have been weighed and measured. I resolve never to use it again but of course, I do. So it is with modern living. We can huff and puff, but we must embrace it or die. Thus, I now have a Twitter account. Two, in fact. I expect you or your organisation has one too. If not, you will soon. The fund management industry has been slow to embrace social media, but the ball is set in motion now. Recently, the Association Française de la Gestion Financière (AFG) began to offer training on how to use social media. There is no surer sign. “Faire disparaître toute appréhension pour s’engager efficacement sur les médias sociaux!” AFG wrote at the launch of its training programmes, thus revealing not just that it knows how to use the exclamation mark correctly, but that asset managers feel a bit apprehensive about engaging with social media.  One can see why. It’s a compliance nightmare. And it requires a certain flair.  Twitter is all about saying things quickly and in an eye-catching way. Not easy. A random snapshot of incoming tweets from my business Twitter account offers a flavour of the problem.  TWEET 1:
Interesting article about the silver market TWEET 2:
US Navy reports that Zerohedge is anti-US agitprop sponsored by Russia TWEET 3:
“We’re committed to building on the progress we have made to ensure a sustainable capital planning process.” Mr ABC on Honestly, who’s going to watch the video about ensuring a sustainable capital planning process? It’s not for me to lecture anyone on how to use Twitter. My personal account features a silly Twitter handle, a photo that doesn’t show my face properly and a series of random thoughts of no interest to anyone except me (and even I’m not that interested in them sometimes).  You can do better than that. And you’re going to have to, if digital marketing experts are to be believed. “Financial services companies can no longer have a digital marketing strategy without utilising social media,” says Kurtosys, a company that creates and hosts websites for fund managers.  Apart from its utilisation of the ugly word utilising, its hard to disagree with what it says. Social media has become essential for fund managers because: “Investors use social media platforms to research, compare products and share experiences, but most importantly, to ask for advice.” Kurtosys identifies a few fund managers that tweet well, and in so doing defines rules for fund managers on Twitter: 1. Engage followers in a helpful, happy tone
2. Stay true to your brand by sharing consistent, relevant content
3. Limit self-promotion
4. Incorporate pictures and video But tweeting right is only the beginning of a successful Twitter strategy. There’s also the vexed question of who to follow. Who you follow can say a lot about you – sometimes more than you might wish.  The irony is that the coolest tweets, and the ones that everyone wants to read, usually don’t follow that many people at all. They’re above that. My personal Twitter role model is emerging markets guru Mark Mobius. He has 47,100 followers but follows just two accounts: Franklin Templeton Global and Franklin Templeton US.  That’s not really engaging with Twitter at all. It’s the Twitter equivalent of asking the supermarket checkout to come to you. Such elevated status is given to very few. But it gives us all something to aim for.
©2015 funds europe

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