ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

Social Media 101 - For Insurance Agents - Part 2 in a 3 part series

In the August 2012 issue of the PIPELINE we started a series about Social Media. If you wish to review part 1, please click here.

Six Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing

1. What your clients say about you matters—In the world of advertising, we are starting to lose more trust in what the brands are saying and gaining more trust in what our friends and family say.

2. Online recommendations translate into purchases—According to a MarketingProfs survey,73% indicated they had learned about a product online and 51% indicated they purchased a product based solely on an online recommendation.

3. You must provide a great client experience—Social media is the stage where people share their thoughts, opinions and experiences about your business. This is your chance to participate in that conversation and show them (and their friends) what outstanding client service looks like.

4. Permission is key—By putting a stop the interruptive marketing noise and obtaining consent to have a conversation with people, you are more likely to show them your business has personality, good character and ultimately they will start listening and trusting what you say.

5. You must listen and respond—If you are not going to engage in the conversations with the people online, don’t get involved in social media. If you get involved in social media, be prepared to participate in the conversation.

6. Social media marketing is a commitment—It takes time to build relationships. With consistency and patience, the time and effort spent building the relationships will pay off through increased client loyalty, client endorsements and ultimately to clients becoming evangelists for your business.

Social Media & Insurance — Not New, Just Different

The insurance industry was born in the late 1600’s in a coffee house in London. Back then, business was done primarily by word of mouth recommendations and referrals; a concept that is still used today with the only change being the delivery method used.

Now business is being done more remotely using more modern techniques such as telephone, fax, email and social media — enhancing the value of word of mouth recommendations.

Friend or Foe?

The most compelling reason to establish your agency on social media networks is because that’s where your customers and business partners are. It’s really that simple.

The same rational that has been used for generations of insurance agents has now transitioned into inserting itself in the conversations that people are having all over the internet in the social media networks.

Many well established retailers have integrated themselves on these networks allowing their customers to make purchases (particularly purchases based on the recommendations of others). Airlines allow you to purchase tickets on their social network sites, coffee shops allow you to purchase or reload your coffee card on their sites, why shouldn’t the insurance industry be any different?

Truth is, it’s not different. 2012 has already seen large companies such as GEICO and 21st Century (among others) offer insurance quotes directly from their social network sites. This has become a logical progression to reaching your existing customers and securing new ones.

Where To Begin and Which Networks Matter?

Not all social platforms are created equally! The key is understanding who you want to have a

conversation with and where they are hanging out. It’s also important to maximize your investment of time into these networks that will generate the highest rate of return on your investment— increased activity which leads to building better relationships and ultimately to selling more insurance products.

With a population of nearly 800 million people, Facebook is hands down the single largest of the social media networks with demographics that simply cannot be ignored. This is where your target audience is hanging out and you should be to—leveraging your existing relationships to establish more credibility.

Twitter is a great immediate notification tool that can help you drive traffic to your website as well as to other social media sites. A micro-blogging tool, great for sending small, focused messages. Twitter has also been proven to provide many fortune 100 and other large companies with an effective customer service channel.

LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world. Socially connect to other people professionally, join groups of other like-minded individuals to share thoughts & ideas and best practices.

Create professional connections with others in your field that can provide you with advice for running your business and who can help you share with others the value you are providing to your customers.

Dick Fisher of e-Merge Online Marketing is working with Agency Consulting Group to help insurance agents utilize social media strategies as a part of an overall marketing program. For more information about e-Merge Online Marketing, visit www.e-mergemarketing.net, FB: eMergeOnlineMarketing, Twitter: e_mergeonline, email info@e-mergemarketing.net or call (651) 842-7075.