Perhaps more than any other  industry, the super industry is  used to change. Just think of  the number of times that rules  have been tinkered with over the  years, before we even mention  Jeremy Cooper. And we’re not  afraid to try new things – even  social media, writes FIONA  REYNOLDS, CEO of AIST.

Social media is revolutionising  the way we communicate,  both as individuals and  as businesses. Twitter, Facebook,  Linkedin, YouTube – businesses are  increasingly using them to communicate  with customers and to gain  interest from outsiders.  The whole notion of ‘going  viral’ never existed until these social  media platforms were invented.  Now, a video posted on YouTube  can become a hit, watched by  thousands or even millions of  people because people share them  within their own networks.  With over 200 million  Facebook users, and close to that  on Twitter, these two platforms  alone present great opportunities  for businesses – and super funds  – to capture interest and engage  consumers. But how can the super  industry use these tools effectively,  and is there a real role for them in  increasing member engagement?

Member apathy and  engagement has long been one  of the biggest issues facing our  industry and one that funds  continue to grapple with. It’s  definitely a challenge to engage  young members who are probably  40 years away from retirement  and more concerned about paying  off their university fees, saving for  overseas travel, or saving for their  first home.  But while superannuation  doesn’t register on their radar,  Facebook certainly does, as  any parent battling to get their  teenagers to complete homework  can attest.  Given Facebook’s average user  is a secondary school or university  student, it’s the perfect medium  for funds to attempt to engage  young members and create brand  awareness.  HESTA Super Fund did  this quite successfully in 2009.

The fund won AIST’s platinum  communication award for its  advertising campaign on Facebook,  which targeted student nurses. The  fund offered a freebie in exchange  for students registering their  details with the fund, and it was  overwhelmed at the number of  responses.  While it’s not new to be  able to target particular groups  with advertising, social media  allows businesses to do this  instantaneously. Twitter, in  particular, provides the perfect  opportunity for businesses to  communicate what they’re working  on in nice, neat little soundbites.  A number of funds are  present in the ‘Twittersphere’ –  Telstra Super, Care Super and  HOSTPLUS are some of the most  active – tweeting news, updates and  new initiatives to their followers.

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