Financial social media experts shed light on new studyArticle added by Emily Hutto on September 26, 2012
Emily Hutto

Emily Hutto

Denver , CO

Joined: June 18, 2012

My Company

ProducersWEB

New social media statistics don’t quite relate to the financial services industry. They paint a picture of social media users that is murky at best.

There are six social media personas in the United States, says Aimia, a loyalty management firm. The company recently revealed a new study that includes the following kinds of users:
    1. No shows: These users have social media accounts, but they haven’t logged in for at least 30 days.

    2. Newcomers: This persona is a passive one. Newcomers typically have one social media account that they use to interact with personal contacts. They’ve reluctantly jumped on the social media bandwagon because they feel like they have to.

    3. Onlookers: Onlookers lurk on several networks. They keep up with others, but don’t share much about themselves.

    4. Cliquers: Primarily Facebook users and usually women, Cliquers participate in one social media network. They’re influential within that one network.

    5. Mix-n-minglers: These users participate in multiple platforms, like brands, seek out the latest news and appreciate the importance of data privacy.

    6. Sparks: These users are the most active and the most engaged with multiple networks. They’re concerned about online privacy, but more focused on creating online conversations. They not only engage with brands, but serve as informal ambassadors for their favorite products and services.

I asked financial social media experts Amy Mcllwain and Stephen Forman if they think this set of personas is applicable to the financial services industry, and got back vastly different responses.

Mcllwain says that financial agents are typically no-shows and onlookers. Some agents, whom she calls spammers, are overly aggressive in their social media use. “They fail to understand the conversational tone and purpose of social media and see it only as an advertising platform. Their messages are highly self-promotional and mono-directional. Instead of listening and engaging with their networks, they shout at them with a megaphone.”

Some advisors, though, use social media appropriately and effectively, says Mcllwain. “A strong Mix-n-mingler would be Covenant Reliance Producers, in particular Scott Magoon who is extremely active on LinkedIn. A spark would be Ryan Parker with Bankers Annuity Brokerage and the BAB social media presence in general. He is very active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and ProducersWEB.”

Forman, on the other hand, completely rejected this study. While he certainly believes that there are social media personas out there, this particular model is ridden with ageism. He cites data used in the study:
  • Spark, age 24, earns $80,000
  • Mix-n-mingle, age 29, earns $95,000
  • Cliquer, age 47, earns $95,000
  • Onlooker, age 36, earns $85,000
  • Newcomer, age 39, earns $75,000

“In the first five categories of social media user, the ages range entirely from 24–47,” he says, “and they make a really nice living. Remember, these six archetypes were supposed to represent the entire U.S. adult population. Do we just write-off everyone over age 47?”
Good point, Stephen.

He continues, suggesting that writing off the senior demographic is bad for the LTCI industry, for obvious reasons.

I’m sure Mcllwain would agree. She recently published an article on ProducersWEB called “Seniors and social media: The up and coming social savvies” in which she cites data to show that 1 in 3 seniors uses social media and that half of adults age 65 and older are online. “They are the future,” she says. “‘Old’ is where the action is for the next 20 years and boomers are the new old. New products, businesses and industries will cater to the new old.”

So, it turns out that these new social media personas don’t quite reflect social media users in the financial services industry, or social media users in general. They paint a picture of participants that is murky at best. Fortunately, this Aimia study is one of hundreds that seem to come out every hour online. I’ll think I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the next one, and Skype my grandparents in the meantime.
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