Surveys about money have enduring content power

If you are scratching your head wondering how to get people talking about your company with no new product, store, recruitment drive or much else on the horizon, you could do worse than follow the example of Swiss bank UBS and “ultra high net worth” research firm Wealth-X, and put together an attention-grabbing survey.

Using information that was presumably already part of their core business research, UBS and Wealth-X published the second annual Billionaire Census this week, with its own jazzy website and Twitter handle, and scored headlines and tweets all over the world.

As well as adding up all the world’s billionaires, UBS and Wealth-X used the report to break out how many billionaires have a university degree (almost two-thirds of them), and which colleges they attended. Indian news and social media sites went big on the fact Mumbai University was ninth, ahead of the LSE.

The institution which has produced the most billionaires is the University of Pennsylvania, followed by Harvard – that state’s news organisations and the college itself remained pretty quiet about this on social media, which seems a missed opportunity.

Unless you sell Chihuahuas, monogrammed carpets or cars painted stealth-bomber black to the denizens of Knightsbridge, your business is not likely to hold the details of billionaires or even everyday ultra high-net worth individuals (defined by Wealth-X as people who have more than $30 million of net assets. Nope, me neither.)

But you do hold figures of interest to the wider public: weight loss, hours spent sleeping or using mobile phones, sex lives, germs, how much money people spend on Christmas presents for themselves. The possibilities are endless. You then need to present this information in a lively way on your website, or even a dedicated site like the Billionaire Census has, highlight the most newsworthy statistics, and use social media to alert interested people to its existence. If you do this well, you can become news without any news.

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