Everyone’s Tweeting About Hedge Funds, Except Hedge Funds

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New Peppercomm Study Finds Social Media Conversations About Hedge Funds Spike, But Few Managers Take Part

Hedge funds are becoming a hot topic on social media, though hedge funds themselves still sit on the sidelines.

In a just-released survey of trends in hedge fund communications, leading integrated communications and marketing firm Peppercomm found conversations about these private investment pools happening in 2015 at never-before seen levels on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others (via Talkwalker, complete list below). Total social media mentions in 2015 topped 1.1 million, up 46 percent from 2014 levels. Social media discussions about hedge funds exceeded 100,000 in five of the months in 2015, and September broke all records for the industry with 116,600 mentions in a single month.

Despite this uptick, Peppercomm reveals that hedge funds are largely absent from the social media conversations about their industry. In fact, only 11.1 percent of the 314 largest hedge funds have a social media presence (ex-LinkedIn), just slightly up from 9.9 percent in 2014. That low number includes many now-inactive hedge fund social media accounts, leaving consistent, active participation to a few of the largest financial institutions.

“Thanks to the proliferation of social media, the once private world of hedge funds is becoming more public every day,” said Jacqueline Kolek, Partner at Peppercomm. “But while the public commiserates about fund closures, industry asset growth and the political leanings of the big-name managers, the firms themselves remain virtually silent. Every time hedge funds shy away from the social media conversation, they throw away important thought leadership and content opportunities for themselves and for the industry.”

To adapt to this new environment, Peppercomm recommends that hedge funds of all sizes examine their presence on digital and social media channels with these three steps:

1. Assess your digital footprint. Does a Google search of your company and its executives reflect what you want key audiences to see? Are you telling your story or having others tell it for you?

2. Start listening. What are people saying on social media about the key issues you care about? Who among your peers and your target audiences is active online? How are journalists, analysts, academics, conference organizers and others you care about using social media? Where are the opportunities for you to engage in real time?

3. Be compliance-friendly. What internal protocols need to be established in order for your firm to become active on social media? How can a communications team and a compliance team work together to produce relevant, timely and insightful material that reflects how the company wants to be known—without bringing undue risk on the organization?

Other key findings of Peppercomm’s research include:

  • Mentions of hedge funds in top-tier traditional media have plateaued in recent years. An estimated 38,827 articles mentioning hedge funds appeared in 2015, compared with 37,367 in 2014 and 39,449 in 2013.
  • Google searches for “hedge funds” have dropped sharply in recent years. After peaking in late 2008, Google searches had fallen nearly 75 percent by 2015, and are forecast to decline further, according to Google Trends.
  • LinkedIn presence among hedge funds has ticked up slightly in the past year. Approximately 73 percent of the largest hedge funds are on LinkedIn, according to the latest Peppercomm survey, up from 66 percent the previous year. Only a small portion of this group (18), however, participate with any regularity, as measured by a least one post per month.
  • Among the top 100 US-based hedge funds, nearly half have closed or client-only websites, which is similar to findings from 2014. Only 36 percent of hedge fund websites include investor relations and press release information.
  • Among the largest hedge funds, 3.8 percent have a YouTube presence, attracting an average of 775,800 total views (this result is heavily skewed by nearly 4 million views for videos from just the two largest firms, Blackrock and Bridgewater; others show less than 25,000 views).

About Peppercomm
Helping clients see around the corner and determine what's next sets Peppercomm apart from other integrated communications and marketing firms. It enables us to push boundaries while mitigating risk for clients in financial services, consumer, B-to-B and multi-industry sectors. Our unique approach and dynamic workplace attract the best talent who, in turn, help us win and retain the best clients. While we've won countless awards, we’re most proud of being named Best Place to Work in New York City by Crain's New York Business and a Best Workplace for Women by Great Place to Work® and Fortune. We were founded in 1995 and maintain headquarters in New York, with offices in London and San Francisco. Go to http://www.peppercomm.com for additional information.

About Talkwalker’s Research
Some social media data provide by Talkwalker (http://www.talkwalker.com), one of the world's leading social data intelligence companies. Its data measured hedge fund mentions on the following social media channels: Facebook, Forums, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Dailymotion, Foursquare, Google+, Mixcloud, SoundCloud, Vimeo and Weibo.

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Paul Merchan
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