I often hear financial advisers say the reason they're not on social media is that their target audience isn't on it either. Ten years ago they may have had a point, but not today.
Let's think about an adviser's target audience for a moment. Generally speaking, they're interested in people with a reasonable amount of money to invest. That usually means those over 40. Inevitably, people most in need of advice in the run-up to retirement, and in their later years, which makes the over-55s a particularly important demographic.
There are two other key factors that make people more likely to have money to invest. First, wealthy individuals have, on average, higher levels of educational attainment. Secondly, of course, they tend to earn more.
So, what does the evidence day about social media use among those groups? Well, one of the most in-depth studies on this subject is by the Pew Research Center in the US.
Researchers collated data from 27 surveys and 62,000 interviews and found that, in 2015, 65% of American adults used social media sites. Although the overall number of people on social media has levelled off since 2013, they also found there continues to be growth in social media usage among some groups that were not among the earliest adopters, including older people. For financial advisers, three factors should really stand out:
Yes, the study confirms that young adults continue to be the most prolific users of social media; 90% of those aged between 18 to 29 are on it. However, usage among those 65 and older has more than tripled since 2010. 35% of those aged 65 and older report using social media, compared with just 2% in 2005.
Current adoption rates for social media stand at 76% for those with degrees, and 70% for those with at least some college education. That compares to 54% for those who have a high school diploma or less.
78% of those living in households with an income of earning $75,000 or more now use social media, compared with 56% of those in households with an income of less than $30,000 – a difference of 22%.
The lesson for advisers is clear. The bulk of their target audience is on social media, so if you want to engage with that audience you need to be on there too.
No, it doesn't mean you need to spend hours on it, or that you have to be on several different sites; in many ways, you're better off focusing your efforts on just one or two social media outlets. Nor do you need to do it all yourselves; there are several outsourcing options, including Regis Media, our specialist division for advisers.
But you need to have a strategy, and to allocate sufficient time and resources to it. Most of all, you need some high-quality content that people want to consume and share.