Sir Richard Branson has a famous quote, “If you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t have a social media presence, your company is at a competitive disadvantage.” While Sir Richard is speaking the absolute truth, many insurance agents and agency owners feel intimidated by social media. So let’s take it in steps; here are several tips I would highly recommend.
- Make Sure Your Agency has a Brand
Your brand is everything! Prior to joining the social world, you first need to understand your agency’s brand, and make sure it’s in order. If you don’t have a brand established, you should hire someone to help you with a brand guide (I’d be happy to recommend several people/companies to you). The reason why this is so important is that it will allow you to reach the right audience and earn their following. If you’re interested in seeing an example, take a look at Taco Bell’s social media marketing. Taco Bell is a fast food chain with a younger fan base that is active on social media platforms like Snapchat and Twitter, so that’s where Taco Bell hangs out because they want to reach their audience. The Taco Bell brand wouldn’t fit in the LinkedIn community, so that is why you don’t find them hanging out there. Alternatively, an insurance agency, law firm and/or marketing agency would definitely fit in within the LinkedIn world. Remember, just because your business is entering the social media world doesn’t mean you have to lose your personal feel or look. Yes, it is B2B, but your personal touch is the main ingredient to your social media success.
Your insurance agency’s brand should have a website and a complete LinkedIn profile (I can’t stress ‘complete profile’ enough – be an all star). If you’re in the professional world, you want social media visitors (prospects/clients) to head there to learn more about your brand, and verify your authenticity. One major piece of advice I have for you is to please make sure your brand (agency or personal) is in proper alignment across all social channels, as well as with your traditional marketing materials. If your brand uses red as its predominant color and has a corresponding logo, then that color and logo should be the same on your website, LinkedIn page, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. Keeping your branding consistent is very important to your social success.
2. Be Curious
You have to listen. Listen to what others are saying in the social world about you or your insurance agency’s brand. This is one of the most important components of being active on social media. By monitoring and listening to what’s being said about you and or your agency, and even your competitors, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and understand what’s going on in the social world (use Google Alerts for your personal name and your agency name).
Curiosity isn’t just about listening to your audience, it’s also about exploring social media channels and techniques and tools you may not be familiar with. I’m not recommending you just jump in blind folded, but it wouldn’t hurt to do a little investigating to see if a particular platform, technique, or tool could work for you and your agency.
3. Don’t Fear Making A Mistake
Yes, pinch yourself, you’re not dreaming. You’re human, and you are going to make a mistake or two. You can’t run from your mistakes; you need to face them head on. A great example of a mistake and how they handled it was Amy’s Baking Company. Amy’s Baking Company was a featured episode of Kitchen Nightmares, a show where Gordon Ramsay, world renowned chef, takes the time to help out smaller local restaurants. During this episode, the owner’s thoughts and opinions conflicted with Ramsay’s, and the restaurant didn’t improve. The social media responses that followed were awful. But, after a year or so, Ramsay revisited their restaurant after they owned up to their mistakes, and the whole situation brought them more visibility, traction, and overall sales. So, when you make a mistake, own it, and handle it professionally by admitting your mistake and apologizing. The key takeaway from mistakes are that they are learning opportunities, so take advantage and grow.
4. Be Authentic. Be You.
Prospects and customers in today’s world can see right through the promotional messages or sales pitches. If you want success then you will have to throw away the sales pitch, and build your audience through a relationship. It’s no different than building a relationship in person; it all comes down to trust. Remember, your audience wants to deal with an actual person who cares about them (social media is all about them), not just a faceless insurance agency looking to grab their money. Be real.
Social media is a communication tool that you need to be practicing in today’s business world, but the key is to look at social media as the new form of communication. Your agency shouldn’t be using it as a blow horn for broadcasting your sales pitch. Your audience is looking for content that they’ll find useful, interesting and/or entertaining. You and your agency should not just sit back and wait for your audience to come to you, because the social world just doesn’t work that way. You need to get aggressive and be active, and strike up conversations with them when they leave a comment or ask you a question. Engaging and interacting with your audience is a simple, yet powerful way to build relationships, which leads to you earning their trust.
6. Use the Right Social Tools
When you find an awesome social media tools, you have the power to do everything from discovering influencers, automating and scheduling content, managing all of your agency’s accounts from one location, and creating calls-to-action. Without a call-to-action, you and your agency will never have a positive ROI. Tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social are great places to start for managing your social media platforms, but there are an endless amount of tools you can use to give your networks a little something extra. Our agency just changed from Buffer to Hootsuite because Hootsuite released some new options for scheduling posts that have been proven to help build more interaction. Automation is great, but let’s not forget that you need to post live and in real time too. If you only use automation, you will show your audience that you are lazy and it’s all about you and your time, not about being real.
7. Have a Social Calendar
What do you want to get out of social media marketing efforts? Do you want more followers on Instagram or Facebook? Do you want more visitors to go your agency’s landing page? Do you want to increase your brand’s awareness, or is it simply to get more sales opportunities?
Having a social game plan will keep your efforts focused. Being focused will help you create and share consistent written and visual content with your audience. And please don’t forget to measure your efforts by establishing agency metrics by using analytics tools. If your agency can’t measure it, then you may want to think about why you’re doing it in the first place.
Now it’s time to take these tips and get to learning. Please don’t just read this and do nothing; get started, because independent insurance agents can’t afford not to start NOW! Happy Marketing!