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Personal finance is a hit on TikTok

VIDEOS TAGGED #moneytok have had 10.6bn views on TikTok—more than #tacotuesday, #gossip and #cookingtiktok. Creators can use the tag to signal that their posts are part of a genre on the short-video platform that offers financial advice. In posts lasting less than a minute, Mandi Woodruff-Santos posts career and investment tips to her 27,500 followers. Ms Woodruff-Santos, who was born in Atlanta, Georgia, says that her working-class parents did not discuss investments at the dinner table, and her education left her with little knowledge of how to manage a credit card or to negotiate a raise. Now she and other influencers help their followers with their money woes. It has not quite gained the notoriety that Reddit, an online forum frequented by many retail punters, earned during the spectacular rise of GameStop stock last year. But TikTok, which has 1bn users worldwide, is introducing many young Americans to the world of savings and investment. Nearly a quarter of investors aged 18 to 40, and 41% of those between 18 and 24 years old, have sought financial advice on the platform, according to a survey conducted last year by Magnify Money, a website. Videos can rely mainly on text (“HOW TO BEAT CREDIT CARDS” or “Adulting 101”), or might feature cute kids or dancing. Some creators use their experience to explain financial concepts. Mark Tilbury, the boss of a retail firm, has amassed 7m followers with his explanations of the strategies of Fortune 500 companies. Other creators draw on personal experience. Tori Dunlap—who founded Her First 100k, which offers money tips and paid financial courses to women—says she grew up in a family that talked often about finances. “I became the go-to friend for money questions,” says Ms Dunlap, now a money-wise pal for some 2m followers. Still others tout the earnings potential of stocks, such as videos of day-traders in California posing with their sports cars after striking gold in the markets. As with social media more broadly, the problem is that posts can be misleading or inaccurate. TikTok has some rules to monitor content: users can flag posts and creators must label branded content from which they stand to profit. Those clicking on #moneytok are warned that investing comes with risks. But some videos are as short as 15 seconds, leaving little time for nuanced discussions of those risks. Only about 10% of top influencers mention financial qualifications in their TikTok biographies or on their personal websites, according to a study by Paxful, a cryptocurrency-trading platform. Day-traders posting on TikTok flaunt large gains, but few might admit to nursing losses, as they may be doing after the market turmoil of recent days. The popularity of #moneytok certainly speaks to users’ enthusiasm for finance and investing. The hope is that social media nurtures, rather than destroys, that interest.

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