When it comes to social media, I’d say I’m an average user. My LinkedIn profile is up to date, I have a Twitter handle, and I’m on Facebook just about every night. Social media is part of my everyday life—but will I use it to help me plan for retirement?

Benefits Canada’s 2011 CAP Member Survey (the results of which are published in this issue) included questions on social media and its role in retirement planning. Younger plan members (18- to 34-year-olds) are the most likely to feel that Facebook (30%), blogs (26%), YouTube (23%), Twitter (17%) and LinkedIn (13%) would be useful in providing information regarding their employee retirement savings plan, and the support for each decreases with age. But when asked what role they think social media can or should play in providing plan information or education, the majority of all respondents (57%) said none at all.

We hear that the use of social media is on the rise and that if you don’t jump on the bandwagon now, you’ll fall behind. “We need to do social media” is today’s mantra, but it shouldn’t be just another item on a checklist.

While I believe in the potential of social media, I’m not convinced that most employees currently see its value in relation to pensions and benefits. They’ll go on Facebook to look at photos, or they’ll tweet their dissatisfaction about the latest iPhone release…but retirement planning? For most, it’s not even on the radar.

As a plan sponsor, should you just ignore social media? I’m not sure you can. But your strategy deserves careful consideration.

As with any initiative, you will want to have clearly defined objectives; specific actions to take, based on the demographics of your particular workforce; metrics to measure success; and the ability to make changes once you have a good grasp of what’s working and what may need tweaking.

Social media is real-time, so it requires additional investment in terms of time and resources. If you’re not prepared to keep it up to date, then it’s not worth the effort.

And remember, social media isn’t just a tool for broadcasting information. It’s really about bringing people together, building communities and encouraging conversation. While you can put some controls in place, your company needs to be comfortable with letting that organic growth happen. That’s an important aspect…so important that maybe I’ll tweet about it.

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Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

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