WealthSimple – Social Media Campaign Critique

MTKG 471E – Social Media Marketing

Wealthsimple’s “Investing for Humans” Social Media Campaign

Wealthsimple is an online investment management service that focuses on making investing easier for millennials. Wealth simple“[provides] world-class, long-term investment management without the high fees and account minimums associated with traditional investment managers. [They] invest your money in a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds modeled after the same Nobel Prize-winning research used by the world’s savviest investors” (Wealthsimple, n.d.). The company uses cutting-edge technology to help investors earn the highest return on money, while also factoring ways to lower the customer’s tax bill (Wealthsimple, n.d.). They provide services such as: automatic rebalancing, dividend reinvesting, and tax loss harvesting. A major draw for millennials to this company is that the services they provide are typically very expensive or tedious to do on their own (Wealthsimple, n.d.).

Wealthsimple offers financial advisers to their customers, whom are always available when customers need them. Financial advisers assist with planning financial milestones, and are there to answer questions ranging from potential risks to what sort of investment accounts they recommend (Wealthsimple, n.d.). The business is backed by a team of “world-class financial experts and Silicon Valley’s best technology talent. [They have] raised $165 million in capital from the Power Financial Group, a leading financial holding company with $1.4 trillion in assets under administration” (Wealthsimple, n.d.).

Wealthsimple is a privately held company, founded in 2014, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada.  The company has 195 employees, and before making their way to the U.S. market, reported in 2017 to have over 30,000 customers

(Image source: https://craft.co/wealthsimple)

Wealthsimple has products meant for individuals and one for businesses. For individuals they offer a low-risk investment account, which they claim is “…a better place for your extra cash with returns 19X higher than the national savings average” (Wealthsimple, n.d.). They also offer diversified personalized portfolios “… of low-fee funds set to a risk level [customers] comfortable with” (Wealthsimple, n.d.). For businesses, Wealthsimple has a service called “Wealthsimple for Advisors” which is “…an all-in-one wealth management platform for financial planners, investment advisors, portfolio managers and dealers with front- and back-office solutions that help you optimize and scale your business” (Wealthsimple, n.d.).

Wealthsimple operates in the Financial Planning and Advice industry. In the financial planning and advice industry, “…companies provide financial planning, financial advice and wealth management to individuals and business clients. Operators also offer advice, in conjunction with other activities such as portfolio management, protection planning and brokerage services. This industry does not include mutual fund companies, hedge funds, discount brokers, insurance brokers or other companies that deliver these services, outside the context of a written financial plan” (Adeleke, 2018).“The Financial Planning and Advice industry has undergone tremendous growth over the five years to 2018, with revenue expected to increase at an annualized rate of 5.4% during the period, to reach $55.0 billion” (Adeleke, 2018).

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(Adeleke, 2018).

Even though Wealthsimple is considered the new kid on the block in the U.S., “it [is] certainly no rookie. The firm was already established as Canada’s largest robo-advisor before it crossed the border in January 2017” (Yochim, 2018). Compared to Wealthsimple’s competitors, Wealthsimple stands out for having socially responsible investors, ease of use for beginning investors, automatic rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting, access to financial planners, and for those seeking halal choices to fit Islamic law (Yochim, 2018). They are also successful at targeting millennials, their key demographic, which puts them in a unique position for brand loyalty.

Major Competitors

Wealthsimple’s major competitors include: MoneyFarm, Wealthify, Scalable Capital, and Wealthfront. MoneyFarm is a digital wealth managing service that offers advice and investments, similarly to Wealthsimple. Wealthify offers “[an] effortless and affordably way for Britons to save and invest,” “[Scalable Capital] operates as an investment management company,” and, “Wealthfront is an automated investment service company” (“Wealthsimple Competitors and Alternatives”, n.d.). In comparison to Wealthsimple’s competitors, Wealthsimple has the largest number of employees, Facebook likes, and Twitter followers; its largest competitor is Wealthfront. 

(Image source: https://craft.co/wealthsimple/competitors)

(Image source: https://craft.co/wealthsimple/competitors)

The Campaign

In September of 2017, Wealthsimple introduced their unscripted ad campaign, “Investing for Humans.” “We hired an Oscar-winning filmmaker, [Errol Morris,] brought in hundreds of real people, and got them to talk honestly about money” (“Introducing Our Unscripted Ad Campaign ‘Investing for Humans’”, 2017). Wealthsimple took their core values to heart with this campaign, and remained dedicated to serving the needs of human beings without all the smokescreens, fees, obliqueness, and salesmanship of traditional investment firm. “We were, in other words, investing for humans before we were Investing for Humans” (“Introducing Our Unscripted Ad Campaign ‘Investing for Humans’”, 2017).

Wealthsimple started with interviewing 250 people, and these people were of every income tax bracket, color, political leaning and facial hair type (“Introducing Our Unscripted Ad Campaign ‘Investing for Humans’”, 2017). Wealthsimple made it a point to not hire actors for their original series of videos. They wanted conversations with real people and completely unscripted. This campaign was considered a calculated risk, because their goal was to address people’s actual worries and dreams, but also make sensible “commercials” about investing intelligently and simply (“Introducing Our Unscripted Ad Campaign ‘Investing for Humans’”, 2017). From the interviews, Wealthsimple continuously heard:

–      Everyone has anxiety about doing money right.

–      People want to invest according to their values. 

–      Everyone thinks someone else is doing something smarter with their money.

–      People wish someone, anyone, would have taught them more about money sooner.

–      People don’t love big banks. 

–      People would rather not fund “evil” things if they can help it.

–      Everyone wishes people were more open, transparent, and honest about money.

From those common complaints and concerns, came the new basis for the entire campaign. In the end, twenty people were chosen for the final videos. Their backgrounds were diverse and unique, including: “people who were finally starting to make a lot of money, people who decided never to make a lot of money, but instead to help the world, people who were born into wealth and lost it all, and people who came of age during the financial crisis and were shaped by the anxiety” (“Introducing Our Unscripted Ad Campaign ‘Investing for Humans’”, 2017). The final product resulted in a total of fifty-six documentary style videos that were shared across various social media platforms. 

(Above image if from Instagram, using the #InvestingforHumans)

Social Media Activities

Wealthsimple is active on the major social media platforms, such as: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. On Facebook, 85,780 people have “liked” the company, while 88,647 people follow them on Facebook. Wealthsimple joined Twitter on March of 2013, and since then have tweeted 3,783 times, accrued 43.9K followers with a total of 9,284 Likes. On Instagram, Wealthsimple has 179 posts and 25K followers. Wealthsimple created their Youtube channel on January 9, 2015, shared 106 videos, and have accumulated 23,939,112 views on their videos. Their subscriber count on Youtube is listed as private, so this data is missing, but overall they seem to have a strong social media presense. In comparison to their competitors, Wealthsimple takes the lead in Facebook likes and Twitter followers.

(Image source: https://craft.co/wealthsimple/competitors)

         Wealthsimple continuously shares personal stories of their customers, financial success stories of celebrities, financial tips and advice, and advertises their products in their posts. It is a good mix of authentic content and sponsored appearing content. A lot of those posts are meant to start a greater conversation about finance, and then every 3-4 posts Wealthsimple goes back to advertising their services, such as what their amenities look like on their mobile app. All of their content on Instagram looks selectively curated with pastel colors, continuous artistic filters applied to celebrity photos, followed by miniclips from their #InvestingforHumans campaign.

Instagram:

Analysis of Firm’s Social Media Activities

Wealthsimple’s Investing for Humans campaign was posted across social media platforms and viewed millions of times, but was the campaign success? In my opinion, it had more failures than successes, but where it did succeed showed potential for greater success. I investigated how well the videos and clips did on Instagram and YouTube. As stated earlier, subscriber count is private on Wealthsimple’s YouTube page, so that data could not be factored. Even though the campaign, Investing for Human, produced fifty-six videos, only thirty clips were ever posted to Wealthsimple’s Instagram account. Twenty-six clips have yet to be posted on their Instagram, which means that is content wasted. From the thirty clips posted on Instagram, the clips averaged 3,622.83 views, with 105,062 plays in total.

On Wealthsimple’s Investing for Humans YouTube playlist, their total views for all fifty-six videos was 12,266,282, which means that they averaged 219,041 views per video. YouTube proved to be the superior platform for sharing the documentary-style videos created to spread the campaign. YouTube views per video ended up being twice as much as the views per clip shared on Instagram. Of course, the two platforms cater to different mediums, one favoring pictures and short clips and the other videos, it makes sense why the videos on YouTube garnered more views on average.

Even though YouTube was the more successful platform for view count, Wealthsimple chose to spend time actively responding to comments on their Instagram. Wealthsimple did not respond to any comments on YouTube, and I will address why I believe this occurred in a later paragraph. Wealthsimple took advantage of Instagram’s instant response accessibility by responding to comments posted under their Investing for Humans clips. Instagram, interestingly enough, did not have nearly as many responses in the comment section as YouTube did for the exact same clips. For one thing, comments on Instagram were either people praising the campaign for being “the finance version of Humans of NY,” or making snap and negative judgements that Wealthsimple easily addressed, such as the picture below.

         As promised, the reason why I believe Wealthsimple did not respond to comments on YouTube was due to the fact that the overwhelming majority were negative (images below). Which can be expected with viral videos, or videos with millions of views. Comment after comment were complaints regarding the background music chosen in each of the videos. The same beeping type sound played in each of the Investing for Human videos, and viewers absolutely hated it. So, even though YouTube produced the most views in comparison to Instagram, Wealthsimple chose to continue their community engagement on the platform with less views. This may have been because they suspected it was a losing battle to respond to the comments about the background music, while address concerns of their services being out of reach were definitely of a higher concern.

         Even with all the views, I am under the impression that the campaign was not successful. There were seven Wealthsimple videos posted to YouTube that never reached 1,000 views, even though the average view count showed it should have been somewhere closer to 219,041 views. I do not believe the brand did enough to encourage community engagement, nor did they do much to support the campaign they released. They had several opportunities to build that connection with their viewers, and instead, they silently sat by on the platform that garnered the most views and comments. This was extremely disappointing, especially because Wealthsimple delivered such high-quality videos. By not engaging, by not addressing the issues with the background music, I can see how someone might not want to do business with them if this is how they behave with their own campaign, which they invested, assumedly, a lot of money.

Recommendations

First and foremost, I would recommend removing the background music from the original videos of the campaign. Due to the large number of engagements on social media platforms that solely commented and complained about the background music, I believe this prevented the campaign from being as successful as it could have been. Common complaints regarding the background music were: sounded scary, gave the viewer anxiety, did not match the tone of the films, too futuristic sounding, and resembled sounds associated with the popular video game, Minecraft. Joel Beckermanand Tyler Gray, authors of the book “The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy,” (2015), stated that, “music in particular helps an experience become a memory and later helps you recall those memories with just a few of the right notes” (Beckerman & Gray, 2015). If viewers ever come across this music again, they are likely to remember how uncomfortable the music made them feel and associate with Wealthsimple.

Consistently, on every platform that the videos or clips were posted, the comments were dominated by complaints regarding the background music. Based on the comment section alone in YouTube, I would classify the background music chosen for the campaign as sonic trash. “Sonic trash is the wrong sound, or the right sound telling the wrong story at the wrong time. The identifying characteristic of sonic trash is that it always amounts to a missed opportunity – to tell a story, provide meaning, or make someone feel something” (Beckerman & Gray, 2015). To be fair, the beeping noise in the background of the videos is oddly unsettling, which fits finance in my own opinion, but probably not what Wealthsimple wanted.

Wealthsimple made it seem as though their goal was to share honest conversations about knowledge, or lack thereof, of finance, investing, and retirement. To a certain extent, that did happen, but they did not give viewers an explicit way to share their own stories. This was a major flaw in their campaign. Many viewers retweeted, shared on Facebook, liked the video, etc., but there was not an explicit platform that was designated for sharing stories that would have given the company the opportunity to answer questions, suggest solutions, and transition customers past knowledge and awareness of brand to membership to active engagement, and changed behavior (Huang, Rothschild, & Wilkie, 2018). 

Another aspect Wealthsimple failed to include was customer testimonials. As appealing as it was to have videos featuring average people, discussing honestly how little they knew about personal finance and what to do with their money, incorporating customer testimonials would have been a great way to respond to potential customers who would be intrigued by the videos. Having customers share their stories of where they started out, how they felt back then, where they are financially now, and how they feel currently. 

From my perspective, Wealthsimple released their campaign with good intentions of generating a dialogue that should have led potential customers to them, but they seemed to drop the ball once videos were released. They let the campaign die organically, and did not try to maintain its effects. This was another major failure on their part, especially since they did not have a designated platform for customers to contribute to the conversation. Although people were using the hashtag on Twitter, tweets are limited by their characters, making it tedious for people to share their personal financial stories.

If I were to redo the campaign, I would keep the original videos but remove the background music, and post them across all social media platforms. I would encourage viewers to share their own stories with “#investingforhumans,” and also allow submissions on the Wealthsimple blog/magazine. I would release the videos in in groups of 7-10 every week, to make it more of a mini-series. Every three months or so, customers or viewers that shared their own stories about investing and finance would get the opportunity to be filmed and have their stories shared like the original mini-series. This way, there is a continuous campaign that generates greater conversation, leading to more customer acquisition for Wealthsimple. Wealthsimple would need to continue creating these videos, because once they stop, their campaign stops. 

References

Adeleke, V. (2018). IBISWorld Industry Report 52393. Financial Planning & Advice in the US. Retrieved from IBISWorld database.

Beckerman, J., & Gray, T. (2015). The sonic boom: How sound transforms the way we think, feel, and buy. Boston: Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Huang, J., Rothschild, P., & Wilkie, J. (2018). Why customer experience is key for loyalty programs. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. Retrieved from
https://search-proquest- com.ezproxy.umw.edu/docview/2062944999?accountid=12299

Introducing Our Unscripted Ad Campaign “Investing for Humans”. (2017, September 07). Retrieved from https://www.wealthsimple.com/en-us/magazine/news-investing-for-humans-us

Wealthsimple company profile. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://craft.co/wealthsimple

Wealthsimple Competitors and Alternatives. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://craft.co/wealthsimple/competitors

Wealthsimple. (n.d.). Who we are. Retrieved from https://www.wealthsimple.com/en-us/who-we-are

Yochim, D. (2018, November 27). Wealthsimple Review 2018. Retrieved from https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/wealthsimple-review/

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