Step is an impact driven company on a mission to improve the financial futures of the next generation. To that end, having good financial literacy is not only a critical skill for all Americans to possess, but it’s also a topic of conversation that’s long been stigmatized and treated as taboo. As a result, household debt has hit an all-time high with Americans shouldering deficits of more than $90,000 dollars, and when it comes to financial literacy, FINRA reports that only half of Americans can pass a basic financial literacy test.
When turning our attention to the next generation, things are unfortunately not looking much better as 34% of teens remain unbanked and 29 states refuse to teach financial education in the classroom, leaving 38% of teens doubting their abilities to lead financially independent lives. What’s more, young adults between 18 and 23 have already racked up $16,000 in debt.
Our solution: In addition to the free access we provide to modern financial products, the other critical element teens need access to is financial education. We believe that both good and bad financial habits are formed in a teen’s early years, and to ensure they’re prepared for their financial futures, we’ve created a peer community to help normalize these conversations and ensure they have access to all the educational resources they need.
Our goal: Build, grow and empower an engaged and loyal community of customers to take charge of their financial journey and drive brand affinity back to Step.
A digitally native cohort, teens spend more than 9 hours online everyday and Discord is the preferred chat platform for millions of teens. With over 140M active users and over 4B minutes of conversation happening across the platform on a monthly basis, we felt it was a great place to engage teens on the topic of financial literacy––creating our own Step server for teens to connect over a shared interest in learning finance.
One challenge we were looking to overcome with this platform was removing the stigma around finances being boring or hard to understand. We wanted to normalize conversations about money by creating a safe space where teens could openly discuss their struggles navigating money management and share tips and tricks from one peer to another.
More so, this community was built with a grassroots mentality. By inviting our most passionate and active Step power users as founding members, we were able to create a true community-led space. This has empowered our members to have a sense of ownership over the community and feel closer to the Step brand and product as a whole. Our members are truly the heartbeat of this community.
In addition to the organic conversations facilitated within the Step server, we regularly engage teens on important financial literacy topics, and leverage this community to share key product feedback and insights to help us better address teens’ ever-changing financial needs. Some of these events and activities have included:
Hosting a weekly #moneymonday content series where we have high school students volunteer to break down a new financial topic;
Hosting an exclusive ask-me-anything event featuring Step Founder & CEO, CJ MacDonald;
Partnering with top influencers and celebrities, including hosting an exclusive ask-me-anything event featuring Fortnite World Cup Champion, Bugha; and
Hosting weekly game nights in community voice calls for members to connect directly with Step employees as well as build meaningful relationships with their peers.
The Step server has been wildly successful. Not only have we helped normalize conversations about money, but in the 6 months since the launch of the server, we have organically grown the community to nearly 3,000 active teens who are leveraging this safe space to meet and connect with like minded peers around the country. In fact, our members are sending an average of 6,000 daily messages and maintaining an average engagement rate of 37% (Discord’s benchmark for a healthy community is 30%).