About 87% of asset managers and insurers use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but very few are experiencing increased sales, according to  kasina’s yet-to-be released second annual study.

“It’s hard to track how much social media enhances the bottom line,” kasina Research Analyst Jesse Mark said. “The biggest benefit is brand awareness and increased engagement, and some firms are using social media to generate leads.”

About 85% of asset management firms and insurers have seen increased brand awareness on social media platforms, 67% have seen increased engagement with clients and prospects and 58% say social media has led to increased website traffic.

“Insurance firms understand the medium for the most part,” Mark said. “They are retweeting content, participating in conversations, answering questions, directing customers to resources and addressing their concerns and not just using RSS feeds to push out content. What they are not doing now is providing more content to their financial intermediaries, such as sales agents and distributors.”

The top social media performers for 2012 will not be released until next month.

“What sets apart the leaders apart is they use social media to engage with their audience,” Mark said. “They ask questions, they solicit feedback, they answer questions. They direct customers to the proper resource and provide interesting and relevant content. They understand the intended platform.”

Overall top performers in 2011 included Vanguard, Fidelity, TIAA-CREF, i-Shares and The Hartford.

This year’s report focused on how insurers and asset managers engage with advisors, policyholders and investors. “That wasn’t the case last year,” Mark said. “As a result, some of the firms that were top performers in 2011, including Vanguard, Fidelity and TIAA-CREF, may not have performed as well in the rankings this year. In the top five overall for 2012, there aren’t any insurers because we’ve weighted firms that were doing things beneficial to advisors.”

The report found that fewer than half of the firms surveyed have dedicated social media budgets today.

“If I were an insurer or asset manager with limited resources, I would focus on Twitter, company blogging and LinkedIn,” Mark said.

The report highlights that compliance concerns, which were the major roadblocks to social media initiatives in prior years, are no longer keeping most firms from participating.

“Social media is cheaper than advertising and is an alternative form of advertising,” Mark said. “It shouldn’t be a firm’s only consideration but if done correctly, companies can be successful using social media as a customer-support mechanism.”