Most people know I use social media a lot – it serves me well and I’m keen to help people less familiar with it, to spend their time profitably. Two years ago I was saying, spend time on Linked in , avoid Facebook and “what’s What’s App?”
Now I’m saying avoid Linked in , focus on Facebook and get up with What’s App .
I will be saying something quite different in 2019, social media is disposable, nothing will last except what it produces – hopefully it will produce positive outcomes, the second half of this article looks at how I’m seeing social media working (the first is about Linked in).
Linked in used to help but doesn’t at the moment
Linked-in has sent me a mail (lost in the myriad of linked-in mails, that they are reforming their groups to make them more relevant. If it’s a continuation of the recent direction of travel, this will mean they scrap groups- as they scrapped linked in questions.
I run the Pension Play Pen group on here (around 9,000 members), the Pension Auto-enrolment group (around 5000 members) and some smaller groups for Alumni. I am also a moderator on the very active Friends of CDC group – something of a “pop-up”.
Historically, Pension Play Pen in particular has been very active, launching all kinds of social activities as well as the monthly lunches and vigorous debates on pension issue of the day. I could monitor activity on the group and numbers swelled. Lately, Linked-in have consigned access to the group to a tab marked “work”, groups are currently in something akin to the most distant attic of a rambling stately home.
So I’m not overly excited about Linked In Groups as a way of changing much – right now! If things change – I’ll let you know.
Don’t be snobbish about Facebook
Whereas Linked-in has touted itself as a professional network, Facebook is more of a car-boot sale. It is looked down on by a lot of snobbish middle management types as a bit chavvy. This is total rubbish, Facebook is the most dynamic interesting place of all.
I am moving all the social activities of Pension Play Pen onto Facebook as it is so much easier for us there. We live our lives and record them through pictures and videos, Linked in doesn’t get this. So much of our professional lives are spent socialising and networking, but Linked in only gives the fleetest of glimpses into the library of pictures we have built up of each other.
Facebook is also a great retail market place, a car-boot where you can pick up business if you are looking for it, meet people who can tell you what they think and get feedback for your business from the people it depends on – the customer. OK, this doesn’t work for custodian banks and prime brokers , but almost everyone else is selling into a retail market. Especially those of us who run pension schemes.
Facebook is the way you face the world and reach out to new people, I find What’s App really useful for managing small groups of people who need to be kept informed by text. Not only does it do messaging, but it’s great with pictures. In case you feel snobbish about What’s App, remember it is heavily used by organisations like PWC to keep everyone up to speed. Infact, when you want a secure encrypted way of passing information, there is no network better.
Where “Groups” help
Then there’s twitter – but Twitter doesn’t do groups. I’ll leave Instagram and Snap out of this conversation, they may have relevance to my work, but I haven’t found it yet. I’m talking in this blog about what I find helpful right now.
I am a convert to Facebook Groups because of BSPS and through the work of Stefan Zait and Rich Caddy in mobilising thousands of steelworkers to engage with their pensions in a sensible way. Without the brilliant moderation of these two and Dave Neilly in Port Talbot, many steel workers would have been considerably less informed in their “Time to Choose”, The BSPS Facebook pages continue to be relevant to steelworkers.
For me , they have been more constructive and instructive than any amount of time listening to the people in my pensions bubble. As Frank Field put it, these people are in another country (literally and metaphorically)!
But to travel to Wales is not hard and to get permission to participate in the other country of the BSPS groups wasn’t hard either. I’d have been kicked off the groups if I’d ever been considered as acting on an agenda other than the members, but as I had no agenda other than to listen, I found being on these pages amazingly helpful.
Trustees and employers may have difficulty attracting members and staff to pages that they run, but they can have the privilege of knowing what their members and staff really think, if they are prepared to observe and contribute through the moderators.
In my opinion, social media groups – especially Facebook groups, are the most important way we in pensions , can get our messages across. But these messages have to be the right ones and delivered in the right way. We need to understand social media better.
So let’s get out of the bubble and spend a little time seeing what’s going on with the people who pay our wages, who we’re only too busy talking about – behind their backs!
Good post, Henry, bringing an interesting perspective on shifting from Linked In to Facebook! Thanks for writing it.