By Cyril Tuohy
A new survey by MassMutual Retirement Services finds that when it comes to communicating with American workers, gender matters. Women prefer Facebook while men gravitate to LinkedIn.
As many as 74 percent of women use Facebook routinely, compared to 59 percent of men, but a total of 32 percent of men say they use LinkedIn compared to only 15 percent of women, the survey of 2,081 defined contribution plan participants found.
LinkedIn, with more than 200 million users, posted the largest gains. Usage increased 50 percent since 2011, the survey found. The social network, which went public in May 2011, is seen primarily as a social networking tool to help professionals further their careers, find jobs or create professional discussion groups. The site attracts a more valuable demographic than Facebook, and is a favorite of advertisers as a result.
With more than a billion accounts, Facebook, which went public last year, is a much broader social network. Members use it primarily to communicate with family and friends.
“Facebook has broad appeal across all age groups but clearly there is an opportunity for providers to target messaging by gender, age and income,” said Merl Baker, principal with Brightwork Partners, a research consultancy, which conducted the survey on behalf of MassMutual. “LinkedIn is the dominant media for business purposes and appeals to all age groups.”
The MassMutual survey also found that LinkedIn is used by 36 percent of participants with household income of more than $100,000, but only by 15 percent of participants with household income of $50,000 or less.
Retirement plan participants who contribute to their defined contribution plan are also more likely to use social media than those who are not contributing to their plans, the survey found, leading experts to conclude that there may be a big opportunity to use social media to sell retirement plan services.
“This may represent an important window of opportunity to reach these participants at a critical time in their retirement savings lifecycles,” said Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division.
The nationwide survey was conducted online between Feb. 18, 2013, and March 11, 2013, and included 2081 defined contribution plan participants eligible to participate in a 401(k), 403(b), 457 or similar workplace retirement plans, the company said.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. He can be reached at [email protected].
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