Hearsay Systems, the trusted leader in compliant digital communications that deliver an authentic, human-client experience for the financial services industry, today announced the results of its 2021 Social Selling Content Study. The fourth annual study is the most comprehensive of its kind, examining data from more than 200,000 advisors and agents from over 100 leading global financial services firms who used the Hearsay platform in 2020. It includes an in-depth analysis of social media content in asset management, wealth management, banking, life insurance, and property & casualty insurance.
The latest study analyzed more than 3 million texts and 12.3 million published social media posts, which garnered in excess of 4.8 million engagements across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Data was extracted from the Hearsay Systems platform to uncover findings and insights from the behaviors of corporate social media program administrators, advisor and agent publishers, and consumers.
“2020 was an unprecedented year for everyone, as client needs shifted overnight and financial professionals were required to adjust their practices,” said Leslie Leach, VP of Marketing at Hearsay Systems. “This year’s Social Selling Content Study is our most revealing yet. We not only learned from a historic number of advisor and agent experiences, but we saw how they adapted in a moment of significant behavior change.”
The Evolution of Social Selling: Key Findings
In a year of unique challenges, financial services firms experienced it all, identifying ways to optimize content for shifting needs and maintaining a productive presence across the networks that mattered. Key findings include:
Breaking Through the Noise
- Digital Peaks, Valleys, and Plateaus: Early in the pandemic, customer engagement via social spiked, yielding 350,000 more interactions in April 2020 vs. April 2019, but what followed was quite different. As digital noise increased during the pandemic, there was a prolonged decrease in engagement rates. People tuned out in the face of increased competition for eyeballs and attention. By September, however, advisors, agents, and organizations made necessary adjustments to reach clients and potential customers through greater personalization and targeting, a better mix of content, and expanded use of technology. 2020 ultimately netted out with approximately the same engagement rate as 2019.
- Strategic Use of Technology: Agents and advisors became more strategic and sophisticated, leveraging new mediums to convey their messages. In particular, video content represented an effective means of capturing eyeballs. In 2020, 53% of Hearsay’s global customers across all lines of business published more than 247,000 videos on the platform. In addition, they used in-app messaging and texting to cut through the clutter and speed responses, and also adopted previously unexploited features like LinkedIn’s 2nd and 3rd degree connections, InMail, and Sales Navigator to expand prospecting efforts and garner new business.
Next Phase of Content
- Increased Personalization: In 2020, advisors and agents took on a more active role in the content they posted. The percentage of original content posted to social channels increased by 6%, with an engagement rate of 9x that of unmodified content supplied by corporate. The percentage of corporate-suggested posts that advisors and agents modified to suit their needs increased 14%, which yielded 3x the engagement of unmodified posts.
- Diversification: This year’s study found that the overall mix of content over various channels was well-balanced and far more diversified than in previous years. Certain types of content stood out, mapping to client and customer needs and interests. Not surprisingly, Market Insights dominated posts in the News category, and Sustainability was most popular within Principles-based content.
Purpose-Driven Brands Ignite Engagement
- Take a Stand: Consumers demanded that the brands they choose demonstrate good corporate citizenship in the face of uncertainty and change in 2020. Social content that focused on sustainability, diversity, and women drove higher engagement rates across all lines of business, yet the rate of publishing principles-based content was just 1%. Principles-based content was consistently within the top three best-performing categories in terms of engagement, if not the top performer.
- Activate Vision at the Local Level: Individual agents and advisors who demonstrate their commitment to community impact and a better world are being rewarded with recognition and respect by their clients, as evidenced by high engagement rates. It matters to consumers if they see their local agent marching alongside them and their neighbors for a charitable cause. The purpose-driven companies that enable field organizations to activate their vision and beliefs at a local level now gain a competitive advantage.
Learn more by downloading the full 2021 Social Selling Content Study.
Find out how Hearsay supports financial services organizations with their social programs by visiting www.hearsaysytems.com.