Less than half (49 percent) of the 200 largest US institutional asset management firms are making use of the biggest and most popular social media outlets, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, according to a new study conducted by financial services public relations firm BackBay Communications.

The investment management firms, with assets under management ranging from approximately $9 billion to nearly $5 trillion, vary widely in their usage of social media, although adoption and strategies around social media tends to be more common among the firms with the most assets under management.

Approximately 74 percent of the 50 largest asset management companies are active users, compared to about 56 percent of the next largest quartile. Only 44 percent of the firms in the third quartile are active on social media, and only 22 percent of the fourth quartile firms are engaged on social media.

LinkedIn and Twitter are the most widely used platforms. Approximately 38 percent of the 200 largest firms are active on LinkedIn and roughly 38 percent are active on Twitter. Less than a quarter, or 23 percent, are active on Facebook.

The preponderance of firms on LinkedIn use the platform to provide a company overview or as an alternative outlet for job announcements, although a growing minority of asset managers have begun using LinkedIn to share original content. Twitter, meanwhile, is largely being used as a distribution platform to disseminate company news.

“There is a huge opportunity for asset managers and other financial services firms to combine insightful content with distribution and engagement over social media platforms,” says Bill Haynes, president and CEO of BackBay Communications. “Most of the largest asset managers have learned to harness the power of social media in support of their overall marketing objectives, while addressing compliance concerns.

“There are a few notable holdouts among the largest companies that have historically taken a more conservative approach to brand-building, but I believe adoption across the sector will be a question of when, not if. We anticipate an increasingly broad adoption of social media among investment managers over the next year.”