Social Media Across the Generations


Social media has evolved into a critical component of many investors’ lives.  From profile sites like Six Degrees, Friendster, MySpace, and the current and wildly popular Facebook, to sites that allow professional connections like LinkedIn, to even immediate, custom curated information feeds like Twitter. At this point there is a social media for many different types of people.

Many of the most current and popular types of social media are used primarily for personal reasons, to communicate with friends and family, or present the user to the world in a specific, curated manner. There is also an entertainment factor for many of the platforms of social media, specifically YouTube and TikTok. An individual can spend hours losing themselves in the never-ending list of video suggestions on YouTube, or the endless scrolling on TikTok. Some can be used to communicate in a more formal manner as well, such as Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Over half of wealthy investors currently use Facebook, according to recent research from Spectrem Group, although that percentage jumps up to 80 percent among Millennials. YouTube is the next most popular social media platform with 30 percent of investors using it, and 61 percent of Millennials presently using YouTube. LinkedIn is right behind with 29 percent of investors utilizing LinkedIn currently, and 61 percent of Millennials using this platform. Seventeen percent of wealthy investors use Twitter, yet that percentage increases to 50 percent among Millennials.

With social media being as popular as it is, it is no wonder that we have been seeing it more and more present in the financial world. Ninety one percent of investors do not interact with their financial advisor through Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Usage changes significantly when evaluated by age, with 20 percent of Millennial investors using Facebook Messenger to interact or communicate with their financial advisor, and 16 percent using LinkedIn and 12 percent using Twitter.

For those investors who do not currently use these platforms to communicate with their advisor, over a third of Millennials would be willing to interact with their financial advisor through LinkedIn, and 15 percent would be willing to interact through Facebook Messenger. The percentages willing to interact in this manner that are not already doing so drops down to nearly zero among WWII investors. Investors at lower levels of wealth are more likely to be currently communicating with their advisor through these platforms, although 10 percent of investors with a net worth between $10MM-$25MM would be willing to communicate with their advisor through Facebook Messenger, and six percent would be willing to use LinkedIn.

Although the percentage of investors that are currently using social media to communicate with their advisor is very low, it is not a reason to discount the platforms. Many of these platforms have not been around for several decades, so there is still a learning curve. More importantly, however, is that the primary users of many of these platforms are younger, so they are just becoming of age to work with a financial advisor. As these investors age, they will shape and change the landscape of communication in the financial industry, and it is likely that it will include some type of social media platforms. These investors also get their information from social media, clicking on news articles and conducting research on professionals they are considering hiring through social media. How do you think social media will continue to evolve?