Meet younger numismatists where they are – on social media
By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
While president of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), I had many discussions with fellow dealers and collectors about social media and the lack of youth in our hobby. The age of the average ANA member is somewhere north of 60 years old. Nearly everyone is concerned about our aging demographics, but few have solid ideas on how to attract and keep young people in numismatics.
Other hobbies have experienced the same dilemma with mixed results. The stamp hobby has been devastated by an aging collector base, and most collectible stamps now have very little value with the exception of mega-rarities. Antiques, in general, are worth a fraction of what they once sold for. The dangers of an aging demographic for numismatics are very real.
The ANA spends considerable sums each year working with young numismatists. Its YN programs are among the best in the country, and one of the highlights of the organization. Every year when I was president of the ANA, I attended both weeks of the Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs.
I was overwhelmed by the large number of YNs in attendance and their abundance of enthusiasm for numismatics. It is truly heartwarming to see so many young people fully immersed in the hobby for each session. The program has also been extremely successful launching the numismatic careers of many who have attended.
As successful as these and others programs have been, they are not enough to attract the numbers of young people the hobby needs to replenish its ranks. During many of our ANA board meetings, board members have discussed the need to invest in the ANA website, money.org.
We all know that young people (and many adults) are addicted to their media devices, otherwise known as cellphones. It is staggering how much time our younger generation spends on the phone. Their lives are centered around content on their phones and access to social media. The latter may be the key to giving our hobby a fighting chance going forward.
My idea for this article started by noticing the explosive growth of a private Facebook group known as Coin Dealers Helping Coin Dealers. The group was founded in late January of this year, and now has over 600 members.
The group was started by Rob Oberth, a rare coin dealer based in Georgia. According to Rob, CDHCD was founded to “provide an exclusive community for professional coin dealers and industry professionals while also including a nice mix of and up-and-coming dealers, who may be the future of the hobby.”
The group has been very successful, and Rob notes that tens of millions of dollars in business have been transacted so far. The members’ interests represent the entire spectrum of the hobby, and I have seen everything from rare coins, tokens, bullion, currency and ancient coins offered for sale.
The CDHCD group also offers an interesting opportunity for interaction among members. Participants ask questions, and in most cases receive instant feedback. Perhaps this is the kind of instant gratification that younger collectors and dealers have become accustomed to and find exciting.
The group also offers a friction-free (no cost) way of conducting business. There are no airfares, hotel bills, and meals to factor into business transaction that must be accounted for when attending a coin show. Younger dealers and collectors also have a chance to meet online many of the giants of the hobby. This can be less intimidating than trying to introduce yourself at a coin show.
Besides the CDHCD Facebook group, many other young collectors are also buying and selling on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. From my polling of young collectors that I know, there is a tremendous amount of activity on these social media platforms. Even though they are not present on the bourse floor, a large number of young collectors are buying and selling coins every day.
Many also have the patience to scour eBay daily looking for deals. You may not see them, but there are many more young people involved in numismatics than many people realize.
These platforms are also popular around the globe, and the growth possibilities for our hobby are staggering.
In recent years there has been tremendous interest and participation in online numismatic chat rooms and message boards. Web sites such as CoinWeek.com have been extremely successful growing their business. The internet has certainly changed the business, and in the long run will probably be its savior.
Hopefully, numismatic leaders can continue to explore ways to leverage these opportunities to grow the hobby. I have always been optimistic about coin collecting because I love it so much. Now, I can see we do indeed have the possibility of a bright future!