SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hearsay Systems, the trusted leader in compliant digital communications and workflow solutions for the financial services industry, today announced the findings of its third annual Financial Services Social Media Content Study. The study is the most comprehensive of its kind, analyzing Hearsay’s anonymized data from 173,000 advisors and agents who reached 77.6M consumers, of which approximately 13.5 million unique consumers engaged back. It yields key insights about how financial professionals use social media for lead generation, customer retention, and branding as well as the overall impact of social practices.
The 2020 Financial Services Social Media Content Study looked at social media data from 54 leading U.S. financial services firms across four lines of business — wealth management, property & casualty insurance, life insurance, and mortgage-- during the 2019 calendar year. These social posts garnered in excess of 23 million engagements across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Data was extracted from the Hearsay Systems platform and analyzed to uncover insights from the behaviors of corporate social media program administrators, advisor and agent publishers, and consumers.
While the study tracked social media activity through December 2019, social usage amid the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on a new level of importance. From both the corporate and agent/advisor level, firms and their representatives seek to communicate important information to clients and prospects as well as to share knowledge, opportunities, and recognition of people doing extraordinary things within their communities.
“This year’s report clearly shows the impact of social media across the financial services landscape,” said Clara Shih, founder and CEO of Hearsay Systems and author of the New York Times-featured bestseller, The Facebook Era, and sequel, The Social Business Imperative. “Social is no longer an experiment or a nice to have, but a critical component of customer acquisition and retention. With the COVID-19 pandemic, social media use has become even more compelling as advisors and agents seek to reassure clients and offer assistance amid market turmoil, potential job losses, and a global health crisis.”
"Hearsay's life insurance specific curated content and all the flexible ways we can allow our diverse set of advisors to post, from automated campaigns to personalized suggestions to original content, have made our content strategy impactful while keeping the work manageable for our advisors," said Corina Roy, Head of Field Digital at MassMutual Financial Advisors.
2020 Financial Services Social Media Content Study Key Findings
Authentic and Personal Content Highly Resonates: Authentic and personal content written by local advisors and agents showed 10 times more engagement than content suggested by corporate marketing. This extreme engagement boost illustrates the power of advisors’ personal connections to their respective communities. They know their audience, and the audience reacts to that authenticity and relevance. For example, in wealth management, advisor posts about general lifestyle topics such as holidays or health performed exceptionally well while life insurance saw engagement spikes when posting corporate branded content such as a local corporate charity event.
However, not all financial organizations allow customization due to regulatory requirements. To overcome this issue and reap the benefits of increased engagement, firms have adopted compliance solutions that enable supervisors to approve or revise individuals’ posts in a matter of seconds.
“What we found is that program administrators should be encouraging agents and advisors to create original content by sharing the engagement data in training and coaching sessions, collecting and sharing great examples from colleagues, and having advisors follow one another for inspiration,” said Shih. “Hearsay Social administrators, for example, use the ‘mad-libs’ feature in Hearsay Social, where corporate marketers provide templates that give a starting idea, a sample of the content, and then require customization. Marketers, for instance, might provide a Happy Father’s Day message, when advisors are then asked to add their father’s name and upload a photo to personalize the post. Users have found this is an easy, highly effective way to encourage original content.”
Automated Campaigns Strike a Balance: Automated campaigns have become a staple of successful programs because they blend consistency in message and cadence with minimal effort from the field. These campaigns were particularly valuable for practices with little local marketing support, significantly lowering the compliance burden, even as centralized content creators tailored campaigns by region or provided multiple campaign options to ensure variety.
Engagement rates for posts from automated campaigns were high across the industry, with 33% for wealth management, 32% for property & casualty insurance, and 30% for life insurance. Offering the option to make small modifications to suggested posts also increased the engagement rate by two times over unmodified posts.
“Automated campaigns create a baseline of consistency for each field rep, which builds trust, helps them stay top of mind, and opens up opportunities for cross-sales,” noted Shih. “Such campaigns have also proven to be particularly useful during the pandemic as firms try to convene consistent information to clients at scale. The ideal mix across advisor original content vs. corporate is 75%/25%, but to be realistic, we guide our program leaders to strive for 50/50.”
Trend Towards Lifestyle Content Continues: As in last year’s study, lifestyle content such as health and holidays proved to be quite popular. For example, in wealth management, lifestyle content increased from 15% of total suggested content in 2018 to 25% of the total in 2019. At the same time, the average number of publishes per piece of content increased 16% year-over-year, demonstrating an increase in advisor activity across social and signaling more comfort and buy-in from the field.
Hearsay Content Campaigns, which automatically provide weekly content from trusted sources such as Fortune and Bloomberg, along particular themes, also demonstrate the high engagement in lifestyle content as well as financial education. The top five channels ranked by engagement include:
1. Kids & Money
3. Millennials & Money
4. Healthy Living
5. Technology News
“While the strategy to post more lifestyle content may seem counterintuitive to driving demand and delivering on brand promise, it increases overall interaction, which then creates a halo effect, increasing visibility of the brand and promotional content,” said Shih. “Program administrators have an opportunity to drive higher engagement rates and more consistent interaction by adjusting the balance of content more towards lifestyle, particularly as people’s daily lives are altered due to COVID. People gravitate toward ideas of how to live better, smarter, healthier, etc., and they want ideas from financial professionals.”
Overall, data suggests that an optimal social media content strategy requires a recipe of several ingredients as administrators try to achieve authenticity along with widespread adoption. The goal is to execute posts that increase reach, engagement, and clicks in order to drive client acquisition and retention. Strategies should be flexible enough to support both advanced marketers who will put in the time to customize content and advisors or agents who lack administrative support and can focus little time on social media. The most effective organizations have developed fine-tuned programs of curated content, rich firm-developed content, prompts and suggestions for customized creations, along with automated campaigns.
Learn more by downloading the full 2020 Financial Services Social Media Content Study at https://hearsaysystems.com/2020-financial-services-social-selling-content-study/
Find out how Hearsay supports financial services organizations with their social programs by visiting www.hearsaysytems.com.
About Hearsay Systems
Hearsay Systems is reinventing the advisor-client experience in wealth management, property and casualty and life insurance. The Hearsay Client Engagement Platform allows advisors and agents to authentically and intelligently grow business relationships by proactively guiding and capturing the last mile of digital communications. Only Hearsay delivers the human client experience at scale.
Over 170,000 advisors and agents at the world’s largest financial services firms leverage Hearsay to scale their reach, optimize sales engagements, and deliver exceptional client service that builds stronger relationships and grows their business.
Built for the enterprise, Hearsay guides your field to deliver a consistent and compliant experience to each and every client to ensure all advisors and agents perform like your best.