We’ve said it before, and we’re going to keep saying it until insurance agents figure it out: social media is an essential part of marketing today. The most effective tactics of yesteryear can no longer be relied on. They’re losing their effectiveness because people’s habits have changed and your audience has migrated. If you want to thrive in this increasingly digital landscape, you need to meet people where they want to be found.
We recently had a fantastic discussion with social selling expert, Robert Knop, CEO of Assist You Today, on the Connected Insurance Podcast. This conversation was so completely loaded with great advice, that I felt I needed to take some time breaking down a few of the gold nuggets Robert shared, so no one misses a thing. If you’re not convinced of the ROI power of social media, read this quote from that discussion:
…the average response rate for a cold call is about 3%. You make 100 phone calls to get three people on the line, and two of those three don’t want to talk to you at all, so it’s a colossal waste of time. The solution is something that they’re calling social selling nowadays. It’s very simply using social media for sales purposes—adding social media to your toolbox. It’s not like you’ll never send another email again or never make a phone call again, but I know for some of our clients in the independent insurance space, they get up to a 60% response rate. Would you rather have a hundred phone calls to get three people on the phone or send five highly targeted invitations to connect on LinkedIn, for example, and start three meaningful conversations with people that you can actually help? I mean the time and the days, no one’s got time.
Does that mean you should completely give up on cold calls and direct mail? Of course not! Agents do need to start shifting their resources, however. We know there’s only one reason people don’t follow through with strategies that have this kind of ROI while holding onto ones that lose power every year… they don’t know how to execute it. And that’s okay. You can’t be expected to know everything. But if you want to thrive in this industry, you are going to have to learn new things! Lucky for you, Agency Revolution is here because we truly believe in the independent agent-broker channel. So keep reading to discover some killer secrets to being successful on social media.
#1 It starts with your profile
… [it’s] beneficial to really establish yourself and share things back and forth in both your personal page as well as the business page as well. I think there’s a nice synergy there that shows two sides of you. You should post from both talking about your business because you’ll get as many referrals or more from your personal than you will from your business.
As Robert points out here, you want to make sure your brand has two primary voices or profiles: Your company profile and your spokesperson’s profile. More often than not the spokesperson should be the agency principal (even if they aren’t the person actually writing the posts). The most important thing you can keep in mind when putting together these profiles is this:
It’s all about them; it’s not about you. They don’t care about your products and services. That’s not why they’re on Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn today.
You need to focus on your audience’s perspective when writing these profiles. Don’t focus on describing your products, or how long you’ve been selling insurance. Talk about how you solve the issues they happen to have. Apply this perspective to your whole profile, but make sure to immediately demonstrate your value in your headline or opening paragraph. If the insurance consumers you’re after see nothing else but what populates from a search result, then at the very least they know who you are and how you can help them.
#2 Share your stories
Don’t just share content, advice, and tips. Share stories. Tell the world about your successes, or something fun your office has been up to. Robert explains it perfectly in this quote:
You can say how excited you are to be working with this new company, for example, or you’re so proud of your top agent who just set the record for selling the most P&C insurance that the company has ever had and have this photo of you and that person. That’s going to go a long way. That shows that you care about your people. It shows that you’re growing as a business. It says all that without actually saying, “Hey, we’re growing as a business, and we’re really great, and we do all these things.”
When you share stories with the world about your great staff and the great work that they’re doing, or how you all celebrate—not only are you creating the kind of post that generates the most engagement—you’re telling the world that your company is successful and thriving in a way that is fun and authentic.
#3 Promoting your content
We’re in the era of content marketing. (For an in-depth guide to content marketing, check out Michael Jans’ latest ebook, ‘The 40% Growth Book: The NEW Content Marketing for Insurance Agents and Brokers’). That means you need to share your content in as many places as possible. Which means linking back to your website so people can read your blog article, or watch a video, or fill out a form to download an ebook.
The rules on LinkedIn can be a little tricky to work with. LinkedIn actually deprioritizes the distribution of posts that contain a link to an outside website. So if you have a blog article, LinkedIn will make sure more people see it if you just post the article as a post instead of linking to it. Of course, it also has a 1,300 character limit for posts. Even if you ignore the fact that most articles will exceed that limit, there’s a lot of advantages to driving people back to your own website! So what’s a marketer to do here? Michael Jans presses for a solution in that podcast discussion and Robert Knop delivers a clever response:
Michael Jans: Give us your recommendation flat out. If I had a killer article on something and I did want to drive people to my site, ultimately, there is value in that. What would you do?
Robert Knop: What I would do is I would take that article, I would chop it up into, say, a thousand words. I would chop it into five 200-word posts. Post one a week for five weeks.
Michael Jans: Five 200-word posts.
Robert Knop: That’s right. The last line of each one would say: “To read the whole article, click on the link in the first comment, and then put the link in the first comment.”
Not only are you avoiding the distribution hit you’d take when putting the link directly in your post, you’re driving people to the comment section and creating your own first comment!
#4 Engage other people’s content
I’m going to let Robert’s words speak for themselves on this one. He sums up the idea of engaging people on social media perfectly:
If you’re engaging with someone’s content, they’re going to remember you on a regular basis. That’s a great way to get top of mind so if you do send the invitation to connect, they’re much more likely to accept that. If people engage with your content, follow up with an invitation to connect. Say, “Hey, thanks for liking my piece on–” whatever that may be. “I’d love to connect and share some ideas back and forth.”
You don’t want to pitch; you don’t want to talk about your product and services. You haven’t earned that right yet. Once you’ve engaged with them, once you’ve built up some trust, once you’ve done some research and found some icebreakers… Once you’ve done that, then you can reach out… You’ve earned a little bit of trust because you’ve engaged with their content, then you can reach out with an invitation to connect, mentioning the value that they would get from you. Maybe you can share referrals back and forth; maybe you can introduce them to some people. Whatever that may be, build that trust.
Once they accept, then you could start to have a conversation just like you would offline. I like to always have a 15-minute networking conversation with my new connections to see if I can introduce them to someone that could help them out… My clients that have done it in the insurance space and have gotten up to 60% acceptance rates on their invitations to connect and 50% meeting rates of the people that do accept. I think, comparing that to cold calls, enormously helpful.
Robert lays it out beautifully here. People notice these small interactions; Likes, comments, shares. Unless someone has an enormous following and they get a flood of engagement all the time, they’re going to remember it. This kind of engagement establishes that much more of a connection than they had before, and gives you an opening to take the relationship a step further.
#5 Pay to play
A lot of these tips are highly effective ways to expand your reach on social media organically. Some tactics might work better on LinkedIn, some might work better on Facebook. When it comes to promoting your own content however, Facebook is a pay to play field. While it might not deprioritize your posts when you link back to your website in the post the way LinkedIn does, it makes it unlikely anyone outside your own circle will see much of your content unless you take advantage of Facebook’s advertising tools.
Personal lines agencies on Facebook… unfortunately, from a content perspective, it’s pay to play so no one’s going to see your content unless you boost it which means advertising as a business nowadays. That’s something you’ll have to get used to on Facebook. The cost of entry is a little bit higher than in Linkedin.
The good news here is that Facebook’s advertising tools aren’t just incredibly powerful, they’re incredibly cheap too. Even if you’re working with a very limited budget, you’ll be able target an audience based on geographic locations, job titles, interests, behaviors, and more. You can even upload your own list to target. Even if you just want to spend $10 here or there, your post will get distribution. But really, if you spend $100 to boost a post or an ad, and you only get one connection that becomes a new customer, that’s still a pretty great ROI.
#6 Stay active
All of these great ideas aren’t worth a thing if you don’t actively and consistently execute them.
If you’re focusing your time on LinkedIn or Facebook, whatever it is, you want to engage with people on a daily basis. You don’t have to post content on a daily basis, but I recommend doing certain activities, doing some research.
If it’s LinkedIn, for example, sending out an invitation to connect or to engage in people’s content. On LinkedIn, I usually recommend posting three to five times a week, and Facebook, probably a little bit more.
It’s important to stay active with these platforms on a regular basis. Like Robert says, you don’t need to make a post or share content every day but you should be doing something every day. Whether you’re just liking someone else’s post, or requesting a connection, or commenting on someone else’s content. So long as you do some activity on your chosen platforms a little bit each day, you’re doing something right.
Of course, it takes a lot of work to stay consistent. Agency Revolution has built tools to make that easier. Our Attract™ product for example has integrated social media tools that allow you to schedule posts ahead of time, or even automate a post to share every time you post new content on your website. You even get a regularly updated content library so you always have fuel for the fire. We recommend you spend at least 30 minutes each day on your marketing.
Marketing where people gather
Marketing has always been about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time and place. That core principle is never going to change. It’s the time and the place that keeps changing. While once upon a time you could rely on people to look through the yellow pages or be somewhat compelled by a phone call from a stranger, the times have changed. The quantity of businesses vying for people’s attention has ballooned. Consumers have more power at their fingertips. To win the hearts of today’s consumers, you need to meet people where they want to be found and communicate with them on their terms. Right now social media is one of the biggest pools where people party, and if you ignore that fact, you’re going to miss out big time.