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Where the Clients Are: Facebook

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As if it wasn’t hard enough to get young people off their smartphones, research from Spectrem Goup released Thursday found that defined contribution plan participants are likely to increase their use of social media and mobile technology in the near future.

Although LinkedIn is frequently found to be the most popular social media platform among advisors, their clients are more likely to prefer Facebook. Almost three-quarters of plan participants use Facebook, Spectrem found, and usage varies only slightly by age.

Participants are looking for two things from social media and mobile technology, George Walper, president of Spectrem Group, told AdvisorOne on Monday. One is information regarding their own account, he said. The other is general information and education.

Although Facebook is more popular among participants, they’re not ignoring other media. Forty percent of respondents said they were interested in getting financial information and advice through LinkedIn.

The report found a quarter of participants use a smartphone to correspond with their financial provider. Walper noted this is largely a factor of convenience.

In fact, the report found that among one-third of investors under 35, social media replaces more traditional communications like the telephone. More than 60% of participants of all ages check their social media accounts at least once a day. Many check in multiple times throughout the day.

“The industry tends to think about social media as only for young people,” Walper concluded. “All providers and financial firms need an offensive strategy for how to use social media.”

In order to help advisors and sponsors develop long-term relationships with participants that include effective technology and social media strategies, Spectrem outlined several best practices.

  • Make use of apps for smartphones and tablets. Participants should be able to access their account information. Spectrem noted that tablet apps should have more functionality than smartphone apps. In fact, tablets will likely replace computers for some participants sometime in the future, the company found.
  • Include YouTube in your social media marketing. Videos can educate participants about their plan or how to take out a loan, Spectrem suggests.
  • Share general information about investing. Post articles and research about investments and financial planning that participants can access via an app.
  • Develop a segmented social media strategy. Participants use the most popular channels differently. For example, men are more likely to use LinkedIn than women. Twitter is seen as more “news oriented,” and Facebook posts should be informal or “family oriented.”
  • Don’t ignore a platform or channel just because it isn’t popular. Google+ and Pinterest don’t have the following that Facebook or LinkedIn have—yet—and who knows what could pop up in the next few years. Be ready to adopt new channels as they time goes on. In the same vein, just because Apple is the most popular platform, that doesn’t mean no one is using the Android platform.


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