There is more to social media than sending photos or videos of your adorable cat.
Twitter is a social media vehicle that allows people to communicate with their “followers’’ as well as allows users to “follow’’ people whose communication they seek. Messages sent by Twitter can be funny and personal, but they can also be professional and newsworthy.
Defined contribution plan participants use Twitter for a variety of purposes, and would use Twitter for a greater variety of purposes if the right people were available to follow. And those people are financial advisors.
According to Spectrem Group’s DC Participant Insight Series study Using Social Media and Mobile Technology in Financial Decisions, 89 percent of plan participants use some form of social media and 30 percent use Twitter.
Of that 30 percent, 81 percent use Twitter to follow family and friends, 44 percent follow famous athletes, and 45 percent follow famous entertainers.
For more serious information, 42 percent of plan participants said they follow political commentators on Twitter, and 41 percent said they follow people who provide news information, such as broadcasters or TV journalists.
Only 14 percent said they “follow’’ a financial or investment expert, and only 2 percent said they follow their own financial advisor. But in many cases, financial advisors do not “tweet’ because of federal regulations against what they can or cannot say on social media.
Those regulations are changing on a regular basis, and advisors are getting more freedom to use social media. Sixteen percent of plan participants say they would “follow’’ a trusted financial advisor if that advisor used Twitter to communicate with investor clients or potential clients.
Plan participants are not using social media for researching investment information. Of the 89 percent that use social media, only 5 percent visit LinkedIn in search of investment information, 3 percent use Facebook for that purpose and 2 percent watch investment information videos on YouTube.
Ten percent said they would use LinkedIn if they were looking for a financial advisor, 3 percent would use Facebook and 2 percent would use Twitter.
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