6 in 10 Young Investors Use Social Media as a Source of Investment Information. Should You?

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  • Many younger people get investment advice through social media channels.
  • That's not necessarily a terrible thing, but it's important to vet your sources, as anyone can say anything on social media, regardless of experience or qualifications.

The quick answer? It depends on the source.

A lot of us spend hours each week on social media -- even if we'd rather not admit it. And while we might spend our fair share of time scrolling through our friends' feeds, some people specifically use social media to get information, whether it pertains to local businesses, recipe tips, doctor recommendations, or investing advice.

If you tend to get a lot of investing advice from social media, you're in good company. A recent FINRA Foundation report found that 60% of younger investors use social media as a big source of investment information. By contrast, only 35% of investors aged 35 to 54 and just 8% of those 55 and older do the same.

Meanwhile, the report found that YouTube is the most popular social media channel for investing advice. And over 50% of investors under age 35 turn to YouTube for that purpose.

But is getting investing advice from social media a bad thing? It sort of depends.

Know your source

There's plenty of great advice on YouTube and other social media channels -- if you know where to find it. Take Your Rich BFF, for example. Ex-Wall Street Trader turned financial literacy advocate Vivian Tu is a popular YouTube personality who puts out short videos educating investors on everything from buying stocks to managing debt. And her advice is often spot-on.

Twitter can also be a great source of investing advice. If you follow big names like Suze Orman and Ramit Sethi, you might get great advice that leads you to make sound decisions in your brokerage or IRA account.

But if you're going to turn to social media for investment advice, it's important to vet your sources first. Someone like Suze Orman is trustworthy -- Orman has made a name for herself in the personal finance space.

But what if you stumble across a YouTube channel for a random guy named Bob who spends his days sharing investment advice? Should you listen?

Well, if Bob has a 20-year history as an investment banker, maybe. But if Bob's just a guy who likes talking about investing, you may want to be more careful.

Of course, the tricky thing is that sometimes, everyday people and investors are full of great advice. So listening to Bob might actually be a good idea -- it's just hard to know. But even so, unless you're familiar with the source or they have a solid reputation and large following, you may want to proceed with caution.

Another great place to get investment advice

It's okay to tune into social media for investing advice, but another place you may want to look is your very own brokerage account. Many brokerages are filled with educational resources that can teach you what you need to know about investing. And it pays to take advantage of that material, especially when you're first starting out.

Another good bet? Talk to a financial advisor. You don't need to be rich to justify hiring one. And an advisor might be able to not only help guide you toward your personal goals, but also, help you filter out social media advice that's just plain toxic.

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