Whether it is financial influencers on Tik Tok, money mindset coaches on Instagram, stock picking experts on Reddit or manifesting mentors on You Tube, there has been an explosion of everyday people talking about money on social media.
Now, I’m all for talking about money. I actively encourage it. For too long talking about money has been perceived as boring or even crass and it’s still not commonly accepted as polite dinner-party conversation. Perhaps that’s why we’re having our chats about money online where, despite it being more public, you can listen, watch and even partake in conversations that perhaps you can’t have anywhere else.
I also understand that people are desperate for financial solutions and are looking for them in unconventional ways. We’re living through a time in history where there are so many unknowns and last March many people, suddenly and acutely, understood how precarious their financial position was.
So, if a social media finance influencer (or finfluencers) who has tens of thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) of followers online but no financial qualifications, tells you that you can manifest your way to financial success, are we surprised when people believe them? Or, if you’re desperate for a quick financial fix and you’ve read about the success of everyday folks on Reddit, perhaps you might be tempted to throw your cash into the latest trending hot stock? Or if a respected newspaper is publishing a Cronulla teenager’s top tips for trading in bitcoin, why wouldn’t you automatically trust them?
You might be shaking your head, but money manifesting and money mindset alone is an industry now worth millions of dollars. Yes, there are the countless US sites but there are also more and more Australian sites popping up every day. Over on TikTok, #moneytok has more than 3.8 million views and #stocktok more than 361 million views. On Youtube financial ‘celebrities’ make videos about how to go from 0 to $1 million. And who can forget last month when Gamestop became the most traded stock in the world thanks to Reddit users.
Again, I’m all for talking about money. The problem I have is when the talking turns into advice which turns into people making financial decisions that aren’t appropriate for them. Or turns into people not taking financial action because they’re told they can simply manifest money without also taking smart, actionable steps.
Of course, part of the reason people are listening to financial influencers online is because financial advice is perceived as expensive and stale. Many people, particularly women, have been heavily affected by job losses during Covid and are looking for financial solutions and direction – sometimes for the very first time. Often, where they’re looking and asking questions is social media.
So, is it safe to head online to learn about finances? Can we really seek financial solutions on social media? The answer is yes, it can be, as long as you know who it is you’re following, what their expertise is, what they’re selling and whether it is financially serving you or sabotaging you in the long run.
What you don’t want to do, whether it’s online or offline, is rely on all your financial tips and advice from people who aren’t qualified to give it. In the same way that you wouldn’t go to your next-door neighbour who has been playing with cryptocurrency for three months for all your investing advice and tips.
Personally, I’m all for this new-found interest in talking about and being interested in money. Particularly women talking about and being interest in their finances. We just want to make sure when we’re looking to social media for answers, that we’re including the voices of people who can be trusted to give well-rounded, expert financial information. And then making smart, financial choices that positively affect our finances for the long term.