Just like everyone takes a selfie from the best angle, so it goes with people only posting the most ideal angles of their retirement planning and readiness. You’d have to look hard to find a couple nestling down to two bowls of oodles of noodles to make up for an unexpected car repair.
Social media can be a great tool to tackle sticky subjects like debt and retirement readiness planning by seeing what themes and ideas resonate with people across lots of demographics. It’s also fantastic for gathering resources and ideas from how other companies are educating their employees about financial matters. But as Jeff Besos recently learned, social media can bite you back.
Social media can also be helpful for employees to get ideas about retirement planning by literally “seeing” how people spend their retirement. But, just like everyone takes a selfie from the best angle, so it goes with people only posting the most ideal angles of their retirement planning and readiness. You’d have to look hard to find a couple nestling down to two bowls of oodles of noodles to make up for an unexpected car repair. While there are plenty of great Instagram accounts (and blogs) about frugal living and saving for retirement on the social media platforms there are also some potential pitfalls for employees as well.
Social media has been a hotbed for “network marketing” businesses, from vitamin supplements to really soft leggings, and not everyone can tell a legitimate business from a pyramid scheme. A multi-level marketing plan or network marketing plan, like those delicious leggings or vitamins, in contrast has an actual product. Therefore, they aren’t fraudulent. In fact, most of those network marketing plans have products that people want to purchase: great smelling candles, fitness shakes that don’t taste like licking the bottom of a stream, or skin-care that is comforting. And those selling the products make money. The people who sponsor other people actually invest in training those people, and therefore are given a small share of their profits in response. In a pyramid scheme, those at the top make money only by those at the bottom losing money: the system is based on a false premise that there is something to invest in, rather than turning cash over to a shyster at the top. But what employees see is their friends or social network making money in a way that seems like it doesn’t require a lot of effort. For employees struggling to find extra funds to retire, a network marketing scheme might be too tempting to resist. Educating employees about network marketing can help make those plans less tempting.
If social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube, and others, can be a resource to plan sponsors for knowledge about financial education topics, it can also be a way to monitor what myths employees might be stumbling across on those platforms too.
When it comes to news, Millenials are more likely to read articles via Facebook share than from traditional news sources. That can be a terrifying concept if “news” also means articles generated by interest groups that may have a stake in misrepresenting statistics or facts. For example, after the 2016 election, many people on Facebook shared a statistic about voter turn out as reprehensibly low during the election. However, the turnout, in context of other elections was absolutely normal, if not slightly higher. The same can be true about sharing information about investing and saving.
How do you monitor myths and false news? One idea may be to search for it. Just as many communications professionals keep a Google alert for their company or their industry’s issues set so that they get a email every morning with information about what news, blogs, and others are saying, regular sleuthing can help find myths. While searching for #getrichquick would be an easy one, a little effort to build a set of hashtags and search terms over time by building on what people are posting can go a long way.
The other concern with social media may be what companies are saying to the market about their investments. When Elon Musk mentioned his plan to take Telsa private without discussing funding or other plans, he did that via a twitter message and a blog post. While securities regulators jumped on this message as speaking to the market, analysts became concerned at what other, smaller, companies might be saying via social media.
The best response to what companies might be saying, and the social media noise, may be your retirement fund’s own social media site. Most pension plans have Facebook pages, according to a recent study, and use them regularly to educate and respond to news. Encouraging your employees to check out, comment, or otherwise interact with those Facebook pages could be a way to counteract the social media noise.
Before leaping into the unknown, we recommend a thorough examination of your plan. Because we are experts in the field, we know the marketplace and know what your existing vendor is capable of offering. Through this examination, we can help you optimize the service you receive.get xpress proposal