Social Media Wont Work for Benefits Information, Survey Suggests

By Staff Report

Jul. 7, 2010

Many U.S. workers use social media for personal reasons, but they aren’t as keen about receiving benefit communications through online sites such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a survey that the National Business Group on Health released Wednesday, July 7.

Forty-seven percent of full-time U.S. employees surveyed by NBGH said they use Facebook either daily or weekly for personal reasons, but only 7 percent said they use the social networking site for business.

Moreover, about three-fourths of workers said they were not interested in receiving information via Facebook about their employer-sponsored health benefits, tips on improving their health or saving money on health care. About 80 percent said they had no interest in being “tweeted” with health benefits information via the Twitter website.

“Because we hear so much about social media … we’re made to feel that we’re out of it if we’re doing the old-fashioned things like home mailings,” said Helen Darling, present of the Washington-based NBGH, a consortium of nearly 300 large U.S. employers. “But even the youngest employees prefer receiving communications the old-fashioned way.”

In fact, less than 20 percent of employees younger than 34 said they would like to receive information such as how to choose a health plan or exercise tips via Facebook, according to the survey.

Based on the findings, Darling recommended that employers test the use of social media before adopting it for their employees. She also said that employers should not abandon the tried-and-true methods of benefit communications, including print mailings and workplace distributions and e-mail.

The survey, which was conducted in March, included responses from 1,500 full-time workers ages of 22 to 64.  

Filed by Joanne Wojcik of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail


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