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unnamedWhen you think of social media and the success that can be gained from it, one thing that we always need to keep in mind is to continuously keep learning. Social media is constantly changing because of Google’s fluidity, and that’s why we can never stop learning. Remember, Google is the boss of the Internet because they are the ones making the rules. They are constantly changing search algorithms, so much so that one occurs about every 18 hours. That’s why it is so difficult for business owners to keep up with the changing winds of the search engine world. Now while this proves challenging for small business owners, Google has made significant strides to help small businesses achieve an equal footing in the internet world to avoid a complete saturation of only major players.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because it’s important for insurance agents to invest in an outside company who can keep us up-to-date and informed with what’s going on in the world of Google. Moreover, I’m stressing to you all the importance of algorithm changes because they directly dictate how you should formulate and implement your social media strategy.

The key to a social media strategy is simply have one first. But before you even begin to hatch a social media marketing strategy, I would highly recommend you take the time to hire a social media point person to work inside your agency to handle your social media marketing. Furthermore, I would highly recommend you to hire someone full-time because there are so many different moving parts to social media that it really is a 40 hour per week job.

Once you have your social media person in place, then you need to focus on how you’re going to measure the success of your strategy. What we do here at Paradiso Insurance is inquire, with every single quote, where that lead came from. But don’t stop if they say “from Google,” ask them what they physically typed into the search bar that eventually brought them to our agency. This is an important part of understanding where your clients and/or prospects are coming from that can drive future business into your agency. You’re marketing strategy may change based on what the prospects are using for keywords within Google to find your agency. So measurement plays in an enormous role in figuring out your social media success.

unnamed 1Let’s not forget that there are two separate ways to measure success within your agency though. The first is your return on investment (ROI) and the other is the importance of your agency’s brand. All agency owners want to have a positive ROI but aren’t sure how to achieve it. I personally look at the ROI of our social media marketing every quarter by looking at how much dollars and cents are going out the door for social media, and then I look at the amount of commissions that have been generated from our social media marketing team. The social media marketing team is responsible for creating opportunities and establishing/ enhancing the agency brand. Then it’s my job as agency owner to look at the closing ratio of my salespeople and make sure that that process is being handled the right way. That data together allows me to gauge how well the social media strategy is working.

Business owners and consultants talk very highly about how many ‘likes,’ comments, or shares that they generate on Facebook. I will tell you that yes, this is a part of measuring your agency’s social media success, but remember the real success is about having the right audience who is liking, sharing, or commenting on your posts. It is not about the quantity of how many you have the most important aspect of the quantity is having the right audience. For example, I was recently working with an agency out of New York who has in excess of 500 Facebook likes. Now instead of congratulating them, I asked them to review who those people were who liked their page. After the review was completed, we found that over 300 of the 500 likes came from people in states they did not even sell in. Success in social media marketing comes from understanding who your agency’s audience truly is and mastering your brand.

Your agency’s brand is one of the most critical aspects of marketing success. Your brand has two vital components, A & B. Component A is something we all have in common- we sell insurance. Component B is your identity. The identity is so very important because it is what separates each and every one of us from our competition. An insurance company that does a great job with component B is the gecko. What they do extremely well is create the brand and they utilize their brand in every single advertisement. You know that their brand is simple and straightforward- cheap and fast. In every ad, the gecko talks about saving 15% in 15 minutes or less. Most independent insurance agents understand that it takes longer than 15 minutes to get a quote because we have many insurance options for our prospects. We as independent agents need to fight back in the social media world and talk about the difference between an independent agency versus these other companies. We also need to talk about how customers are far more valuable to us than simply 15 minutes.  Imagine if your doctor only spent 15 minutes on you during your checkup- chances are you wouldn’t feel confident in the examination!

Let’s not forget that creating a brand may not generate an ROI in the shortterm, but my challenge to you is to stick with it. I understanding that branding is difficult to do and even harder to measure its success, but overall, branding is having the ability to create common interests between our agency’s identity and those with our prospects. Social media success may be a little different for each and every one of our agencies, but we have to believe in social media marketing and take the time, the money, and the effort to measure all aspects of our marketing efforts.