Those interested in learning more about money are not likely to turn to social media for the answers. In a recent GOBankingRates survey on money expertise, 44% of 1,001 surveyed Americans said social media is their least likely source for money advice.
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Just 19% of surveyed Americans said they used social media platforms — e.g., YouTube, Twitter and TikTok — for financial advice over the past year. While social media can be a fantastic tool for increasing your financial literacy, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which online influencers are genuinely credible versus those who may be spreading misinformation.
Here are red flags, and green flags, to watch out for when using social media platforms to find trusted experts that can teach you about personal finance.
Seek Out Experts With Certifications
A large following should not be the key indicator that someone is a financial expert. If you want to know more about the legitimacy of a TikTok or YouTube financial expert, take a moment to visit the website or LinkedIn profile and learn more about the person’s finance background. Ideally, there should be a match in previous work experience and current expertise.
Cecil Staton — president and wealth advisor at Arch Financial Planning — said a green light is an influencer with formal education, such as CFP certification marks. Staton said another positive indicator that the expert has financial literacy understanding is if the person is quoted or referenced by other credible sources in the media.
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Look for Detailed Content
Another sign that someone is knowledgeable about finance is that the person will create a detailed video or blog post on finance topics.
These videos and articles will break down beginner, intermediate and advanced levels on topics ranging from investing to retirement strategies. It may take a little extra time to watch or read, but it should answer important questions.
See How Experts Respond to Their Community
One of the simplest green flags that shows experts are listening to their audience is how they respond.
If viewers leave comments on YouTube or TikTok, the influencers may respond directly to these questions. In situations where there are too many questions or several repeated questions, they may make videos or create content that specifically provides answers to these questions. It may not be the best idea to follow advice from those who do not listen or try to understand their audience’s problems.
Reconsider Following Anyone Trying To Sell Something
A significant red flag to avoid is following anyone who tries to sell you on certain products or promote their own courses or products.
If most of the content does not provide value to the audience but tries to promote the personality’s products or sell products unrelated to the topic, reconsider following this person or using the person for financial literacy advice.
Do the Experts Follow Their Own Advice?
When using social media to learn more about money, it’s important to follow influencers who explain the “why” behind their recommendations.
Personal finance influencers should do what they advise their followers to do. If you follow an influencer who posts content about why you should budget but routinely shares photos of expensive purchases in Instagram Stories, the influencer might be contradicting his or her own advice.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to follow influencers who have track records of high performance. They may share stories about surviving a previous bear market, recession or other period of inflation. Surviving that financial downturn gives them the opportunity to share valuable insight into the current economic climate and better explain the “why” behind their recommendations.
Do the Experts Own Up to Mistakes?
It’s easy to make mistakes or underestimate something in finance. You might think you’re investing in the next big thing and it turns out to be a dud. A red flag is an influencer who does not admit to making mistakes. A green flag is someone who admits he or she got it wrong.
Aside from being honest when a mistake is made, the most trustworthy personal finance influencers understand that market conditions change. When the facts change, so may their opinions to ensure better practices in everything from investing to saving. Keep an eye out for financial experts who understand change does happen and are flexible in changing some of their own opinions to keep up with the market.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How To Use Social Media To Learn More About Money