Why It’s Time to Put Social Media in Your Open Enrollment Strategy
  • Tools & Best Practices

Why It’s Time to Put Social Media in Your Open Enrollment Strategy

For a while, people questioned the staying power of social media. When the concept first gained widespread attention, many wondered if it would still be relevant after a few years.

The consensus is obviously that yes, social media is here to stay, with an ever-widening array of options through which to engage, from YouTube and Facebook to Snapchat and more. It’s taken root in our daily lives. Today, around seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another, consume news content, share information and entertain themselves.1 And the average person spends nearly two hours on social media every day.2

As more Americans have adopted social media, the user base has come to better reflect the broader population. While young adults were among the earliest social media adopters and continue to use these sites at high levels, older adults aren’t as far off as you may think now. In fact, nearly two-thirds of 50-64 year-olds use social media, compared to 88 percent of 18-29 year olds.3

Outside of personal social media, there's also enterprise social networking or “social business.” Social business is more about integrating social media along with social methodologies and processes into the organization as part of its day-to-day practices to build relationships and spark conversations. These are platforms like Yammer, Jive and Tibbr (to name a few) where you can follow work-related topics, people, apps and project updates.

According to a Deloitte analysis, by the end of 2013 more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies had partially or fully implemented an enterprise social network.4

So, there you have it. Social media is a ubiquitous and powerful tool that breaks the generational divide. So why isn’t every employer using it for employee benefits communication?

It may boil down to the fact that benefits are complex and trying to distill that complexity into 280 characters is a daunting task.

But here’s where we can bring the scope into a more narrow view. Most pieces of content aim to accomplish one or more of the following goals: education, awareness, persuasion, decision. When social media is at its best for employee benefits, it's aiming for awareness and/or persuasion.

Social media is not the place for heavy lifting. Leave that to other forms of communication where you can go into more detail. But social media is the perfect channel for supporting a communications campaign, and there’s no greater campaign for benefits administrators than the annual enrollment period.

Here are a few ways that social media can make an impact for your next open enrollment.

1. Drive awareness and/or persuasion with your posts.

Use social media to post reminders, deadlines, resources and general information on open enrollment. Consider posts that drive employees to take action. This shouldn’t be the only way you communicate with employees, but as an additional channel within an integrated approach to get your message out.

2. Host an “Ask Me Anything” with your HR team on internal or external social media. 

Feel inundated by employee questions? An “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) virtual event is a perfect way to address common OE questions that can be answered in an open forum. Note: Keep the AMA around high-level info. If you receive personal benefits questions, take them "off-line."

3. Hashtag important keywords in social media posts. 

Topics like HDHPs, HSAs and voluntary benefits can have employees wondering what might make the most sense for their unique situation. By using a hashtag, you can help your employees explore what others are discussing around the topic.

If you never dive into social media, you're leaving a significant opportunity to engage with your employees on the table. So, start incorporating this channel into your open enrollment communications today.

Get all of the tips and tricks to using social media as a part of your open enrollment strategy here.  


1 Social Media Fact Sheet, Pew Research
2 Social Media Today
3 Social Media Fact Sheet, Pew Research
4 Deloitte Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2013