How iShares Social Media Strategy Focuses on Content Consumption

| March 15, 2012 | Be first to comment

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It is common practice in web strategy to drive users of your social media content back to the mothership–your company website where all sorts of approved content resides.

iShares has a different approach. Their social media strategy is to increase consumption of branded content –specifically iShares blog posts. By doing so, they build awareness that promotes the purchase of their product by investors and financial professionals.

iShares is owned by BlackRock. So they start with a solid level of brand awareness. Nonetheless, there is a constant need to share their expertise in order to help build market share for iShares ETFs and other products.

Life Cycle of a Post

At a recent NICSA conference that I attended, an iShares executive made a presentation about the life cycle of a blog post, “Dividend Growth: Volatile Markets Revive an Old Investing Strategy.” Once the post was born, it was posted to the iShares website, the iShares Facebook page, and to the iShares Twitter account three times over the course of the day, as is standard practice. But that was just the beginning.

The Atomic Unit

Also employed was Twitter’s “atomic unit”– the Promoted Tweet. A Promoted Tweet is a message from an advertiser that appears near the top of a user’s feed. This is the centerpiece of Twitter’s advertising strategy. Each time a Promoted Tweet, Promoted Trend or Promoted Account is clicked, the advertiser pays. The more clicks, the more often the Promoted Tweet appears. Twitter claims an engagement rate of 3-5 percent—which is high for online ads.


A sophisticated syndication strategy was also used. iShares social media team ranks syndication sites by tiers and reaches out to them one by one. Here is how they are divided up:

  • Tier 1 — well known sources/high traffic
  • Tier 2 — less known/up and comers
  • Tier 3 — individual influencers
  • Tier 4 — strategic partners’ intranet sites
  • Tier 5 — other influencers/celebrities

Awareness & Engagement

By the end of the blog post’s life cycle, an impressive number of people have become aware or actually engaged with the post. Here are the numbers: 

  • Post on – 877 awareness, 3 engagement
  • Syndicated to financial websites – 9,819 awareness, 31 engagement
  • Tweets – 98,400 awareness, 31 engagement
  • Posted to Facebook – 4,455 awareness, 7 engagement
  • Promoted Tweet – 38,349 awareness, 372 engagement
  • Shares, Mentions, Retweets – 11

        TOTAL: awareness 151,998, engagement 574

On the most basic level, awareness, a viewer can see the iShares logo, headline, and often an introductory paragraph or more on various social media platforms. iShares refers to this as the “passive engagement” level, where users can interact with the content. The type of engagement differs depending on the channel. On the blog, one can easily comment, Like, Tweet or share. On Twitter, it’s easy to ReTweet, respond, etc.  Facebook has its own engagement features.

There is another level of engagement in the iShares social media world, currently referred to as Engagement 2.0. At this level, user generated content—such as this blog post—or maybe a photo of the iShares logo pinned on Pinterest, generates further brand awareness.

Based in San Francisco, iShares social media team is exploring new frontiers.

An estimated 70 percent of larger asset management and insurance firms anticipate they will be blogging within the next year, if they haven’t already started. Too many mid-size and smaller firms, unfortunately, are still trying to figure out what this Twitter thing is all about. But that will change soon enough.


Need help with your program?

SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC, has over a decade of experience in market, securities, and regulatory communications. His firm provides strategic communications consulting, integrated Internet marketing, compliance training, and more to a wide range of organizations.

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