Pensions or Porn? – The Jury’s out

The choices we have when we have time to ourselves vary from immediate sensual gratification (porn) to deferred financial gratification (pensions).

Put like that it’s not surprising that porn sites get rather more hits than pension sites.

This post is about what pensions can learn from porn. It is not a panegyric for the porn industry but it suggests that pensions can learn from porn.

If you are lucky enough to be a member of the Pension Play Pen (and if you’re not get linked in to me and you will be), you’ll have read an argument about whether Linkedin or Facebook is a proper place for people to find out about pensions.

On the one hand we  have people who argue that information needs to be delivered in a secure environment and that LinkedIn or Facebook groups foster all kinds of misconceptions and falsities. On the other hand, some people reckon that allowing people to work things out for themselves, share information and take action based on imperfect knowledge is as good as it’s likely to get.

The latter group’s case is most ably put by Mark Scantlebury of Quietroom here.

There are a growing number of enterprise social network services (e.g. Yammer) that work and feel like Facebook. They’re about people within a designated group (e.g. a business) sharing, collaborating and communicating with each other. Many large organisations are now adopting these over the centralised intranet because they tap into the way most of us choose to organise our daily lives.

If we want to get people talking about pensions then we need a forum where the conversation is peer to peer – with people like us, people we understand and trust. This needs to happen because the professionals have never managed to get through. And right now the biggest failure is people not talking.

There are lots of people out there interested in being smart with money, getting good deals, finding out new stuff – see the gap filled by Martin Lewis. A Facebook equivalent for a business, where among other things the conversation is around being smart with money, is the place to put pensions – not in some ghetto controlled by compliance, risk, retirement options and the professional agenda. Let’s get people talking about their experiences, fears, hopes, successes and failures. The great thing about social media is that the good/intelligent/valuable/interesting (and funny) rises to the surface. Pensions need the treatment!

My tuppence worth is this. Where there is something interesting going on, people will congregate provided they have access. When the River Pageant was on, we rode up and down the banks finding viewing spots, those who couldn’t be mobile congregated around the large TV screens to watch the action. There was a priori interest in the event but the way that we organised ourselves to watch it could not be controlled or predicted.

That’s why trying to tell people how to engage with pensions is so futile. You cannot build a website and expect people to turn up and wonder at your ingenuity. More money has been spent on trying to second guess how we want to work out how to organise our finances than anyone cares to admit- most of it has been wasted.

Look at another model- a very basic model indeed- porn. Accessing Porn is by far the most popular activity on the web. We don’t like admitting that either.

Porn sites, because they are sexy have huge amounts of money to spend but they need to spend their money wisely as they compete in a crowded space. Those porn sites that win through are those that attract back their viewers and they do so by creating opportunities for their viewers to feel they are participating in the action.

Disgusting as this may seem to many people, porn sites are the best place to see how the internet gets the ongoing engagement of masses of people.

The way such sites work is by understanding what people are interested in and giving them access to it. Typically what people are interested in is talking to similar people which is why chat rooms are so popular. People like to see the number of views on a picture or video so they can work out what’s best quickly (they’ve sussed that good content is most clicked) Nowadays most porn websites allow you this shortcut.

I could go on. Those in the pensions community who are seriously looking at social media to provide solutions – whether to good purchasing or to to improved distribution, look at the patterns of viewing exactly in this way.

On this blog, I refine what I say and how I say it to maximise appropriate viewers . In case you think henrytapper.com is about to turn into a porn site- sorry! The “appropriate” bit is important.

The pensions industry is so rich that it almost doesn’t have to bother. Auto-enrolment will throw further money into the pot. In any environment where the money is coming at us without us even having to ask for it, we may think that trying to help people make sensible decisions about their future finances is a waste of time.

However, as with the sex industry, which has similar “natural demand”, the process of natural selection among pension providers and advisers, will be determined by the capacity to win and maintain customers. Learning how to turn people on to pensions

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Pensions or Porn? – The Jury’s out

  1. Pingback: Why we want you at our Pension Play Pen party! | Henrytapper's Blog

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