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Social Media and the Hang Seng Index: a Ruder Finn Asia Study —Opportunities to be more “Liked”;Robot and Brand Grab Risks


(Hong Kong) — Communications consultancy, Ruder Finn Asia, (www.ruderfinnasia.com), today launched the firm's inaugural research study* into the social media presence and activity of the 50 constituent companies of the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index ("HSI"). The Ruder Finn study focused solely on the corporate social media presence of HSI listed companies; consumer brands, subsidiaries and business divisions were not included.

The study showed that use of social media by HSI companies in Hong Kong, as part of their corporate communications or investor relations, is relatively low. As a result, Ruder Finn concludes that many HSI companies are missing potential communications opportunities.

Of the 50 HSI constituent companies, 11 (22%) have an official Facebook account and five (10%) have an official Twitter account. The presence of HSI companies on WeChat and Weibo is higher at 19 (38%) and 20 (40%) companies respectively. 13 (26%) of HSI companies are active on LinkedIn and ten companies (20%) have an official YouTube channel.

"As an important global capital market, as well a being a digitally-connected city, the low engagement with social media among HSI companies is surprising," said Charles Lankester, Senior Vice President, Reputation Management at Ruder Finn Asia in Hong Kong.

HSI companies which have not established an official social media presence often also find content generated automatically for them. 39 HSI companies (78%) have their Facebook presence created automatically via "robots", with content sourced from third-parties such as Wikipedia. Similarly, three HSI companies (6%) have their content generated automatically by LinkedIn.

Companies which have not officially secured their social media "real estate" portfolio provide potential opportunities for third parties to "brand grab" and create unofficial online content. An example would be Twitter: just 4% of the HSI (HSBC Holdings and Lenovo Group) have verified their accounts signified by a "blue tick". In a global investor environment, where social media is now a recognised communications channel, Ruder Finn believes all listed companies in Hong Kong would be well advised to review their social media engagement strategies.

"We are not advocating that listed companies in Hong Kong should jump on to social media overnight; just the opposite in fact. We do recommend, however, that companies study the online environment and ensure they have taken the necessary steps to protect and manage their social media portfolio. Once this is in place, more proactive engagement can be considered," Lankester said. "While the landscape of social media will almost certainly change, one fact remains: social media isn't going away any time soon. Combined with a news environment undergoing revolutionary change, any public company would be well advised at least to consider what these changes mean and the potential benefits and advantages they offer," he added.

* data analysis undertaken 2-6 February, 2015

For information:

Charles Lankester, SVP, Reputation Management, Ruder Finn Asia +852-2521-0800 | lankesterc@ruderfinnasia.com | @CA_Lankester

Cynthia Wan, Director, Corporate Affairs, Ruder Finn Asia +852-2521-0800 | wanc@ruderfinnasia.com | @WanMayYu

The "Most" Social HSI Companies*
1. China Mobile 8,025,436 (LinkedIn, WeChat, Weibo)
2. Lenovo Group 5,130,663 (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WeChat, Weibo, YouTube)
3. China Unicom 4,996,564 (Facebook, LinkedIn, WeChat, Weibo)
4. Bank of China 3,812,064 (LinkedIn, WeChat, Weibo)
5. Ping An Insurance 2,007,616 (LinkedIn, WeChat, Weibo)

* The "Most Social" data was sourced from publicly available social media platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WeChat, Weibo and YouTube from 2-6 February 2015. Rankings based on total number of followers, likes, subscribers and fans on official company platforms.

The "Least" Social HSI Companies*

  • China Merchant Holdings
  • China Resources
  • China Resources Land
  • PetroChina
  • Power Assets

* The "Least Social" companies did not officially use any of the social media platforms over the period (2-6 February, 2015) covered in this study.

By Social Media Platform

  • Twitter – five HSI companies (10%) are on Twitter. These are Lenovo Group, Cathay Pacific Airways, HSBC Holdings, HKEx and AIA. Only Lenovo Group and HSBC Holdings have secured verified ("blue tick") status. The company with the highest number of followers is Lenovo Group (335,000) and the lowest is AIA (454).
  • Facebook – 11 HSI companies (22%) have an official Facebook account. These are Bank of East Asia, Belle International, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Unicom, CLP Holdings, Hong Kong and China Gas, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Lenovo Group, MTR Corporation, New World Development and Sands China. Only two (4%), Lenovo Group and Cathay Pacific Airways, have verified ("blue tick") Facebook status. For those companies without an official Facebook account, Facebook content is generated automatically, typically drawn from third-party sources such as Wikipedia. The company with the highest number of followers on their official corporate Facebook account is Lenovo Group (3,080,781) and the lowest is Belle International (464).
  • LinkedIn – 13 HSI companies (26%) have an actively managed LinkedIn page. These are AIA, BOC Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Airways, CLP Holdings, Hang Seng Bank, Henderson Land, HKEx, HSBC Holdings, Lenovo Group, Li & Fung, MTR Corporation, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Tencent. The company with the highest number of followers is HSBC Holdings (582,217) and the lowest is Henderson Land (1,106). 25 (50%) HSI companies are registered on LinkedIn but are inactive. Three (6%) have unclaimed LinkedIn pages and nine (18%) are not present.
  • Weibo – 20 HSI companies (40%) have an official Weibo account and all have secured verified ("V") status. 13 are China-based companies and seven are Hong Kong companies with business operations in mainland China. The top five companies in terms of number of Weibo fans are China Mobile, China Unicom, Bank of China, Ping An Insurance and Sinopec Corp. The company with the highest number of fans is China Mobile (8,019,048) and the lowest is CLP Holdings (110).
  • YouTube 10 HSI companies (20%) have an official YouTube channel. These are Bank of East Asia, Cathay Pacific Airways, CLP Holdings, Hang Lung Properties, Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong and China Gas, HKEx, HSBC Holdings, Lenovo Group and MTR Corporation. The company with the highest number of views of a video is Lenovo (1,832,533) and the lowest is HKEx (1,461). The highest number of subscribers to a company YouTube channel is Lenovo Group (59,649) and the lowest is Hong Kong and China Gas (88).
  • WeChat 19 HSI companies (38%) have an official WeChat account and all have secured verified ("orange tick") status. 15 are China-based and four are Hong Kong companies with business operations in mainland China.

Ruder Finn draws four conclusions related to current levels of HSI companies' social media engagement:

  • Social Media Brand Grab Risk – whether or not listed companies are active on social media, many companies have not verified their social media real estate portfolio. At a minimum, it is good practice to verify any corporation's name.
  • Don't Let Robots Tell Your Story – major social media platforms often automatically create pages and content whether or not a company is proactively present. Having an official social media presence means a company can define and describe itself rather than be described by unconnected, unauthorised third-parties.
  • Get More Value from Investor Relations – every HSI company has an investor relations ("IR") function. By linking the IR function to social media, greater value can potentially be derived from the IR investment already being made. While corporate websites serve as official information centres, social media can disseminate information more widely, as long as investors have been alerted in advance which social media channels will be used and that all information complies with relevant rules and guidelines of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and Securities and Futures Commission.
  • Give Investors the Chance to "Like" HSI Companies – social media is used very effectively by many HSI companies as part of their consumer-facing marketing and communications activity. Companies have the same opportunity to provide corporate information and to tell their investor story on managed social media.