September 27, 2013

Do Men and Women Live on Different Social Media Planets?

LinkedIn and Twitter more popular with men; more women are using Facebook

Social media’s established role in consumers’ lives has left those in the financial services industry struggling with ways to use it effectively and appropriately. A survey released earlier this month found a misstep online could push some clients away and an August survey of marketing executives found measuring returns from social media investments is pretty hard.

MassMutual Retirement Services released a survey on Wednesday that should help advisors who are using social media in their marketing strategy to better target their message.

MassMutual surveyed more than 2,000 people who were eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored defined contribution plan about how they consume retirement information. It found that twice as many male respondents use LinkedIn compared with women (32% versus 15%). Women were more likely to use Facebook: 74% compared with 59% of men. Men favored Twitter as well, but usage was low among both men and women.

Age, of course, was another factor. Respondents in their 30s were more likely to use social media to gather retirement information, but even older participants are online; 57% of respondents over 50 said they used Facebook.

Overall, 71% of respondents said they routinely use social media sites, although just 6% said they use them specifically for retirement information. MassMutual said that small percentage translates to roughly 5 million participants.

Furthermore, participants who contribute to their plan are more likely to use social media than those who don’t. MassMutual saw the same trend among participants in non-workplace-sponsored plans.

"Social media usage is up across the board since 2011 with the biggest increase in LinkedIn usage by participants at 24%, which is a 50% increase," Merl Baker, principal at Brightwork Partners, the firm that conducted the survey for MassMutual, said in a statement. "Facebook has broad appeal across all age groups, but clearly there is an opportunity for providers to target messaging by gender, age and income. LinkedIn is the dominant [medium] for business purposes and appeals to all age groups.”

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