The million dollar question is “How do you create a balanced Social Media Content Strategy?” The path to a balanced social media content strategy within your agency may not be a straight road.
Actually that’s being optimistic.
It’s NOT a straight road. Since the start of social media, users have been holding the microphone, a very big microphone, saying “Listen to your customers and your agency’s prospects. Customers define your agency’s brand in the social world.” Is the echo out there from well-intentioned customers or prospects? These statements imply there is not much value to what is being said in the social media world if we agency owners are not listening.
That value is what’s being missed because we all say that we give great service, but are we listening or surveying our clients? At the end of the day, they are the ones who determine if we are or are not giving great service. So its time that we all…
Creating a balanced social media program within your insurance agency does not have to be at the expense of the brand, the customer, or the prospect. Both user-generated content and brand content are important. By making an effort to create quality agency branded content you provide two sources of interaction with customers and prospects:
- You become an official source of information
- You reinforce your brand’s tone and culture
- Your Agency Brand is an Official Source of Information
Customers talking about your agency, either face-to-face or online are very beneficial. The drawback is that it can create a lot of misinformation out there. Your agency and its brand, assuming it’s honest and trustworthy (in the eyes and tone of the audience), is the most official source of information. Without an agency’s voice in the conversation, speculation can turn to a firestorm where facts are blurred by emotions, which can all lead to a lack of trust. That is never a good scenario for your agency to be in. Your agency needs to continually educate your social audience in an open way (transparency) which tends to build stronger relationships with customers online.
It should be a proactive effort, too. Your agency and its rock star employees should try to position themselves as thought leaders in the industry. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about you, the agency owner. There is a community out there and social media is never about you – it is always about them (your agency’s audience). Make the conversations about them and more about your customers’ various interests.
Agency Owned Content
Social media is the place to show your agency’s brand and its voice. Customers and prospects are no doubt an important part of your agency’s culture.
Social media marketing and your online publishing should be an expression of the agency’s brand, along with its voice. Matching the tone that is spoken to the customer/prospect and the language used across all marketing avenues can create a familiar place where customers can engage in conversations, either with you and your agency or with your prospects/clients.
Customers of your agency do not experience a brand in one place. They connect with you on multiple devices. This is why Geico hits you on a TV ad when you wake up. Then when you walk to your mailbox for your newspaper, there they are again. Once you get in your car to drive to work, they hit you again with a radio ad. Great brands like Geico and Apple connect the dots by developing their own content across channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Vine, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest etc…) with tie-ins to social media to create pockets of engagement. The end goal is engagement and without it your agency will not have an ROI.
Smart Use of User Generated Content
Content created by others about a brand are considered user-generated content. Today it’s all about creation of great content, both visual and text based. There is an awful lot of discussion out there and it can be a lot to sort through. Content is pushed out in the billions daily which make for a lot of noise, but it’s important to get through all of that. Turning on the fire hose of content can create a few issues in the user experience (Twitter widget—allowing to pull in all social posts mentioning the agency displayed on an agency’s website).
- Unfiltered language, foul language, offensive posts etc… (Proceed with caution)
- Out of context conversations
- Confusing conversations
- Lack of unity in conversation or divided conversations
- A few “What the Heck” (WTH) moments
Smart agency brands are taking a more intentional approach to User Generated Content by encouraging and curating on-topic posts from customers and/or prospects (the best results will come from customers). Curated User Generated Content can be displayed in feeds or widgets on your agency’s website that are showcased in creative ways (you must be creative). It can also provide a source of social media content for your agency’s brand when you repost and feature a customer in your own agency feed. This is a great way to show off your clients to the social world.
User Generated Content can be leveraged in contests (check with your state’s insurance department first) to generate word-of-mouth and collect re-usable content. Also don’t be afraid to go to the world of Twitter. “Tweet”, “invite a friend” and “share your photo” beat the traditional sweepstakes entry form, which holds very little value as customer interaction in the first place. Once again you must be creative with your contest because it is one of many that are out there.
Creating A Balanced Social Media Content Strategy For Your Agency
A well-balanced social media content strategy incorporates your agency’s branded content and user-generated content. This means that you need to have the ability to create your own agency’s content and your in-house marketing person needs to be able to find interesting content to share. You need brand content to bring your agency’s culture to life. This content is also great for sharing socially.. Your social media person needs to have a strategy to provide a voice for the agency that allows them to connect with your audience that can highlight the agency’s brand while heightening engagement. A mix of both branded and user generated content creates credibility and visibility for your agency. It leverages all of the useful information that both the brand and customer/prospect have to offer.
The balance is the critical key component to your success.