Should TikTok be Part of Your Stock Plan Education Strategy? - Banner

Should TikTok be Part of Your Stock Plan Education Strategy?

May 06, 2021

What role should social media sites like TikTok play in engaging your stock plan participants? I’m going to answer that in a moment. But first, some backstory on TikTok, in case you are (like me) still trying to figure out what the platform does.  

Gen Z's Approach to Learning About Anything, Including Stock Compensation 

I remember a day when one of my teens asked me a bunch of questions about the stock market. This was an exciting moment; don’t we all envision our young being just as interested in stock compensation as we are? Turns out, he’s very enthusiastic about investing. I was suddenly buzzing with ideas and resources…articles, books, maybe even a course? Wow, maybe he’ll want to get his CEP designation!

Then, reality hit. Did he read or listen to any of my suggestions? Nope. Instead, he turned to his go-to source for information: social media platform TikTok. He’s not unique. In fact, he’s one teen in a sea of millions of Gen Z’ers who are learning in ways that other generations can barely grasp.

Gen Z (those born 1997 onward) is the first generation to grow up with communications devices in their hands. On demand, 24/7 information consumption and digital communication comes like a second nature, the same way we use a fork and knife to eat dinner. Not surprisingly, this generation gets their information in ways that are way, WAY different than even 5, 10, 20 years ago.

So, back to TikTok. What is it? It’s a social media space where casual, impromptu short videos are published by millions of people. The draw for its 800 million monthly users is the entertaining, creative and authentic communication style of short videos captured on the platform.

I have to admit, I first found it entertaining when my teen started to send me 30 second clips of people on TikTok talking about the latest stock uptick. I thought – “These are just random people. He must think I’d get a laugh out of this…” Then, it hit me: this is not entertainment…he’s actually trying to learn from these videos.

That moment was an “a ha” for me, as I realized this platform is a HUGE information source for not just my teen, but the entire rising generation. I immediately started to look up stock compensation terms (restricted stock unit, employee stock purchase plan) and voila, yep, there are plenty of videos out there on those topics as well.  

A 2020 survey by YPulse (a youth brand research firm) cited that 51% of Gen Z respondents get their news from TikTok. The key word here is “news.” More than just entertainment, Gen Z is taking to these platforms as a favorite means to access and digest real information. The Gen Z figures are double the number of millennials who access their news via the platform (26% in 2020). Shifts in the *how* of information consumption are happening at lightning speed, and if figuring out how to leverage platforms like TikTok aren’t yet on your company’s radar, they need to be.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you move all of your stock plan education to TikTok. In fact, TikTok’s current structure has several limitations that could be problematic as a main channel of communication – like a 60 second limit on videos and the inability to “order” your content or restrict it to just your employees. But, there are a number of ways to leverage these platforms to engage your employees.

Ditch Formality: Get Used to the Idea of Casual Communications for your Stock Plans

I want you to consider the fact that “casual” communications (tip: new buzz word here) are overtaking the more formal formats that many of us are used to. If we are to effectively interact with our younger workforce population, we must adapt our communications to include a casual component. Apparently TikTok realizes this as well – in mid-2020 they launched TikTok for business.

TikTok for Stock Plans: A Modern Way to Connect With Younger Employees

So, how can you incorporate casual communication concepts like TikTok into your stock plan education strategy?  Here are some ideas:

Create short, authentic videos that feature stock plan participants. 

Have an employee record their experience in real time, spontaneous and mobile. It’s widely thought that younger people  tend to engage more with “authentic” content than sophisticated corporate communications.

Remember when you would ask an employee to share their stock plan participation experience at an in-person meeting? Think of the employee testimonial condensed down to an informal, quick and spontaneous video that can be posted to whatever platforms the company uses to communicate with employees.

Such videos can also be embedded in emails or on a webpage, so there’s plenty you can do with the short videos. The key to ensuring they connect is to make them less formal, more impromptu and authentic.  

Set up fun “stock plan” challenges.

Ever heard of a “TikTok challenge”? If not, it’s basically a challenge to record yourself doing something (silly, entertaining, fun) in a video and uploading it for the world to see.

For stock compensation, this could be adapted to the company’s unique situation. For example, has your stock price increased and you hear that many employees are reaping the rewards? Challenge them to record a 30 second video talking about or showing the most exciting thing that their stock compensation has enabled them to do.

The video can then be uploaded to TikTok under a hashtag (if the company is comfortable with the public stories) or, alternatively, to an internal designated page. The fun and engagement will be in hearing everyone’s authentic stories about the rewards stock plan participation generated. It’s a win for engaging employees and spotlighting the stock plans.

Partner with HR to explore the role of TikTok in recruiting top talent.

Showcasing what a company has to offer is an important recruiting tool, including sharing information about the company’s stock programs (particularly if they are broad based). Gone are the days of just handing someone a bullet point sheet of paper that explains company benefits.

There’s a lot of buzz around TikTok emerging as a key recruiting tool for the younger population and it’s time to explore how to leverage social media tools to highlight incentives, like your cadillac ESPP or broad-based RSU program.
Even if you don’t use the actual TikTok platform to engage, you can still incorporate the concept of casual, short, and authentic content into your stock plan education and communication strategy.

Back to title question of this blog – should you incorporate TikTok into your stock plan education strategy? Yes, it’s time to get next-gen with your education initiatives and consider how to leverage social media platforms - or at least their concepts -  to connect with employees.

If your company is already using TikTok to engage with employees, particularly around stock compensation or benefits, I'd love to hear from you and share your insights with our community. Send me a quick note via our issuer case study form