The financial services industry is getting better at social media, but few are tapping the full potential of lesser-used platforms — and many have forgotten to take the most basic steps to set up a proper social media presence, according to a new report.

Facebook accounted for 40% of all social media posts by financial services professionals last year, which LinkedIn represented 48%, according to Hearsay Systems.

The findings are based on the digital client engagement platform company's analysis of over 200,000 advisors and agents from 100 global financial services firms who used the firm’s platform during the 2021 calendar year.

There has been a "noted shift towards more targeted, higher quality posts” on Facebook and LinkedIn, according to the findings.

In all, Hearsay says that it looked at over 15 million texts and 14 million published social media posts, which garnered more than 16 million engagements across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Hearsay found that Instagram represented just 1.4% of all posts, but had higher levels of engagement than LinkedIn and Facebook combined. Hearsay attributes this to “content that reflected the empathy and authenticity clients and prospects crave.”

"In some ways, 2021 was the year social selling grew up. Financial services professionals began to see higher returns by focusing on the quality of their posts and through greater personalization," Leslie Leach, chief marketing and strategy officer of Hearsay Systems, said in a statement. “While there has certainly been a lot of progress, there is still plenty of room for everyone to up their game."

Hearsay suggests that financial professionals avoid “spitting out the exact message coming from corporate marketing teams” when it comes to posting financial education and corporate branding content, and instead aim for personalization.

Moreover, the company says that posts focused on environmental, social and governance factors, diversity and inclusion and women had higher engaged rates but accounted for just 4% of all suggested content and 2% of those published.

Hearsay adds that the key to healthy social media presence is a balance between the two types of messaging.

Finally, many financial professionals have yet to take the basic steps necessary for setting up a successful social media strategy: less than 45% of LinkedIn profiles had a background photo and more than 52% of Facebook profiles didn’t have a description, according to the company.

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