Who can keep up with marketing today? Social media changes. The ‘rules of engagement’ change. The very things that consumers want and expect you to do change. Our host, Michael Jans, dives into the delicious details of SOCIAL SELLING with one of the country’s leading social marketing experts, Robert Knop, the founder & CEO of Assist You Today. In ‘Part One’ of an unofficial three-part series on practical-tactical marketing for the Modern Insurance Agency, Robert reveals:
- Why insurance consumers expect your agency to follow a few key ‘rules of modern behavior’ in the marketplace. Rob shares what those rules are and how to comply. (And, the dire consequences of online ‘misbehavior.’)
- The questions to ask and answer about your behavior before you dive into social posting. (It won’t take long. It may cause you to ‘think deeply’ about what you and your agency are really all about. And, these are simple questions you can’t afford not to think about.)
- How to get the most juice from every social platform you’re thinking about now: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram. (This is a MASTERCLASS in social, from one of the nation’s leading experts.)
Please don’t miss this conversation with one of the marketing world’s most respected marketers –Listen today and get ideas you’ll put into practice tomorrow!
What are other agents & brokers doing to thrive? What are the biggest trends affecting the retail insurance agent & broker? What are the most important strategies and tactics you need to grow faster? Find out here in the Connected Insurance Podcast, where Michael Jans discusses the biggest issues affecting the independent insurance agent and broker with the industries leading figures.
One More Thing! What do you think? How will you and your peers use this to grow your agency or brokerage? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, subscribe to get updates delivered to you and *please share this if you found it informative.
Michael Jans Robert Knop, rhymes with the Pope, how are you?
Robert Knop: I’m good. How are you doing, Michael?
Michael: I’m great. Thank you very much. First of all, thanks so much for joining us today. You’ve got an area of expertise that a lot of our listeners are really, really curious about. In a moment, we’re going to dive into your areas of expertise—strategy and social selling—and the related field around that, but first, how about a little bit of background on not just what you’re doing now but how you got to be where you are.
Robert: Yes, absolutely. Thanks for having me, first and foremost. Second, my background were a lot in startups. Then, about 15 years ago, I moved into financial services, worked for Countrywide Financial, went to the Bank of America transition, then led a lot of digital things over at the Capital Group and American Funds including launching social media at the organization. Then I moved on to Pacific Life where I led the digital marketing for the Life Insurance Division. About two-and-a-half years ago, I went out on my own. I went back to my roots as an entrepreneur and launched Assist You Today, where, as you mentioned, we help companies with strategy training and content for sales marketing and social media.
Michael: Got it. All right. As I’d mentioned to you earlier, I know that one of our listeners had recommended you. I think, perhaps, they saw you, a keynote speech at an industry conference or something like that, and so you come highly recommended.
Robert: I appreciate that.
Michael: Now, your area of focus, describe what you think the differences that you make in an organization.
Robert: Yes, absolutely. We’ll start at the heart. I mean the world has changed. It’s more digital. It’s more mobile. It’s more social than ever. The average American spends about 11 hours a day in front of some sort of a screen, which actually seems kind of low to me if you do the math. I mean that means there’s five hours in a day that they’re awake but they’re not looking at some sort of a screen, so that seems low. I would really have much time with [crosstalk]
Michael: You mean that there’s five hours they’re actually spending with their spouse and family and the dog and that kind of stuff?
Robert: It must be. It’s all that I can think of.
Michael: Okay. Hobbies? Wife? [laughs]
Robert: Exactly. When I was a kid, if I ask my parent a question and they didn’t know the answer, they would tell me to look it up in one of the 500 encyclopedias we had in our family.
Michael: Yes, right. The Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia or whatever, and it took up an entire wall because every year there was a new one and there was A through Z.
Robert: Absolutely. Today, I have twin eight-year-old boys, and they’ve only grown up in a world that everything they ever wanted to know is at their fingertips and more specifically on my phone. I spent half of my meals with them looking things up. I envy my parents. They could just say, “Hey, just look it up in one of the encyclopedias.”
Michael: So, “Hey, daddy, why is the sky blue?” or whatever. “Well, hang on just a second. I’ll tell you.”
Robert: Yes, exactly. Remember those groundbreaking innovations we had about 10 years ago like the iPod?
Robert: You could have a hundred songs on one digital device and we thought it was the best thing ever. Now it’s quickly replaced with more advanced versions, and they combined it with phone, and now it’s all Spotify and Pandora. I mean, no one under 30 even owns music. They can just follow up any song they want whenever they want to listen to it.
Michael: You’re right. I could walk into my living room and pretty much ask for any song that was ever recorded at any point in history and I’d probably get it.
Michael: If you said that to the adolescent Michael, I would just fall down and die because I had to go buy the vinyl and save up for a week or two to get it. Anyway, so the world has changed. As you mentioned, it is more digital. It is more mobile. It is more social. Obviously, I probably have been hammering the listeners of this podcast series over the head with some of the reality of that, and there is a growing sense in the industry folks are getting. How do they say it? They’re getting woke. Now, I mean the impact of that, I guess, pretty obvious is that the consumer there, the consumers online, 11 hours a day, and it’s changed all their behavior.
As business people, as entrepreneurs or I sometimes call them “insurapreneurs,” our listeners really want to know the “So what?” The first consequence is obvious, they’ve changed, and so now, the strategic response needs to be “We need to change.” Let’s talk about what do you recommend. Now that we recognize that change, then what? What does that mean for a business owner?
Robert: Absolutely. Every business owner or, really, everyone that’s in sales and insurance and marketing, they’ve got a similar problem. Most of them have become successful by doing cold calling, by spending a ton of money on print ads and brochures, and just pop in, where they had to show up at someone’s residence. Some people go door-to-door. From a commercial insurance perspective, they’d stop at a strip mall and just go door to door to door at each one of the companies.
The problem is those things just don’t work anymore. We both know print is dying, and the average response rate for a cold call is about 3%. You make 100 phone calls to get 3 people on the line, and 2 of those 3 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 base, 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.
Since we do spend so much time in front of screens and the average American spends about two hours a day on social media,
actually two to three, and that’s tripled in the last six years, we have to go to where they are. That’s what we help companies do is how to implement social media as another tool in the toolbox, to start to actually get in front of people whether it’s commercial lines, on LinkedIn, for example, or personal lines on Facebook. It all depends on your target audience, but it’s a huge differentiation for the companies that are using it today.
Michael: Let’s get into the platforms, but let’s put that down for a few minutes. I want to postpone that one. Let’s talk about protocol. I think we’ve all seen the insurance agent who hops on whatever platform they happen to be on: Facebook, LinkedIn, like you said, Twitter. I see this so much, it embarrasses me and makes me cringe, where somebody just pops on a platform and says, “Save money with me.” Boom. It’s like showing up at the cocktail party, walking in, and introducing yourself, saying, “Hey, I’m the insurance guy. Save money with me.” Of course, everybody then retreats to the far corner.
Talk to us a little bit about appropriate protocol. How to engage in social selling. Maybe we should define social selling. It’s a little bit distinct from whatever I’m doing on my personal Facebook page or that kind of stuff, and sharing pictures of whatever. “Here I am. I look great in a swimsuit on the beach.” What is the approach? How do you enter into? How do you start those conversations without making people run?
Robert: Yes, absolutely. First, it starts with you and your personal brand, really building a strong profile, say, on LinkedIn. We’ll start with that from a commercial perspective for the B2B folks. That profile needs to be written from the perspective of a potential client. What would they want to see in here that’s going to make them want to reach out? Then, start distributing content that adds value to your target audience.
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. Most of the folks, the agency owners, for example, are the face of their business. You got 20, 30 people working for you, you are the face of that business. Whether you feel comfortable being in front and center, and active on social media is irrelevant. You need to be active on social media to stay relevant because that’s where all the people are nowadays.
Michael: Let’s literally break this down. For the listener who might be thinking: “I’ve dreaded this. I haven’t wanted to do this. I don’t even like Facebook in my own personal life. Now, Jans and Knop are saying, ‘You’ve got to have some presence.’” Start at the very, very, very beginning. Let’s take LinkedIn. First thing you start with is your profile.
Robert: Yes, start with your profile.
Michael: You also said, even before you just start writing words, you need to have some sense of personal brand. There is a buzzword, so tear that buzzword apart a little bit. What does that mean?
Robert: Let’s do it. For personal branding, let’s start with your profile for example. The very top of your profile, you’ve got three things. You got your picture, you got your name, and you got your headline. For yours, it says co-author at the InsurTech Book, which is great, Michael. I’ll use yours as an example. What I always like to tell my clients to do is that line, those three things, the three things that people are going to see when they search for you on Google because LinkedIn has fantastic search engine optimization. When they search for you on LinkedIn, when you engage with someone’s content, you come out in search results for something they did on LinkedIn.
Those three things are critical. What I recommend is that headline, write what you do and the value that you provide. If someone sees nothing else about you, they’re going to know already what you do and how you could potentially help them. For mine, for example, it says social media, digital, strategy, marketing, sales, keynote speaker, helps companies gain and retain clients. In a nutshell, it’s nothing else. You know exactly what I do and how I could potentially help you.
Michael: As a recommendation to our listeners, I might suggest that they look at your profile and look at my profile. I did look at yours when we first started to connect, but I haven’t seen it for a few weeks. I don’t know exactly what else is in yours. I used a formula, kind of a recipe, and it’s pretty straightforward. Somebody might want to use that one or take a look at the recipe that you use. They are pretty straightforward LinkedIn profiles that say this is what I do, and this is what people say about me.
Robert: Absolutely. I like what you did, Michael. Yours says what I do, how I do this, why it works, and what people say.
Michael: [laughs] I wasn’t hiding anything. You’re right. It was like, “This is what I do, and this is why it works, and this is what folks say about me.” I also hired a professional photographer. I’ve got a new site coming out. I did for other purposes as well, but you want to use a professional level photograph. I did because the InsurTech Book came out relatively recently, and there’s quite a bit a buzz around it. I think I’m the only real agent advocate who had a chapter in it. I wanted to call some attention to that.
Again, recommendation to listeners is check out my profile, check out Robert Knop. Then, in terms of branding, you want people to really think through what they stand for and their values, right? All that jazz.
Rob: You want to be as findable as possible as well. When you’re writing this, put your self in the shoes of your target audience. What things are they going to be searching for that you provide? Put those keywords in that giant summary section. You’ve got almost 2,000 words, use them. Use those words in your previous work experience that you come up very highly in search. You want to be as findable as possible. Then, when people get there, you want your point to be able to tell your story, so it adds credibility and validity at a glance. In the terms that people know and use in your industry, to show you know what you’re doing you’ve got that expertise.
The next step to that is that content component. People ask me all the time, “What type of content should I post on LinkedIn and really establish a strong personal brand to get people to pull back to that profile to check me out?” The answer is simple. You just let your profile, it’s what they’re going to be interested in. It’s all about what they would want to see.
I was talking with a video company recently that I do work with, and they’re asking me, “What kind of content should I use?” The answer was simple: how to do a video. Help people out. Help people how to actually do videos. The simple things that people do holding an iPhone, give them some tips around that. When they want to do something more extravagant, they’re going to come to you because you built that trust.
Michael: We’re on the LinkedIn platform right now, right? That’s what we’re talking about. There are a few places where content can be published. What do you recommend?
Rob: I recommend posting something right in the feeds. Go to your homepage. At the very top, it’ll say share an article, photo, video, or an idea. Type it right in there. I’d say 90% of the people on LinkedIn share third-party articles, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you write your own text-only post, or even better, you do video, those get up to 10 times as many people as those third-party posts.
Michael: Is original content?
Rob: That’s right.
Michael: Would you agree? I’m in a little bit of curation goes a long way if it’s done properly. Let me give you an example. Something that drives me up a wall is the guy who’s always got– I mean, he’s got a good personal brand, but all of his postings are third-party stuff on how cool it is to be a leader. Like, “Leaders are better.” It’s like, “Really, I don’t need to hear that every single day.” Let me share a unique insight or a story about something that worked.
I’m answering my own question of giving you the opportunity to agree or disagree, and I don’t care which one, but I want to hear your opinion on this one. A little bit of curation. Some percentage of your content can be curated from a third party, but it’s especially interesting if you add an insight or an observation and if you just don’t overuse it. For goodness’ sake, most of us don’t need more content from third parties because have an infinite amount waiting for us already.
Robert: Absolutely. If I’m an insurance agent, I would share a story or two every once in a while about how I was able to help this person: an example of when you went the extra mile, how much you love saving your customer’s money, or being able to make them hold in times of trouble. Those types of stories go a long way. You don’t want to brag. You don’t want to say how great you are, but you have to be authentic, and you have to be genuine.
The voice and tone is really the key here. 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 PNC 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.”
That voice and tone is really the key because again, people don’t want to hear about your product and services. They want to know about you. As the face of the company, what are you doing to help build your company and to help your clients?
Michael: Okay. Let’s talk about the second thing you just said to help your clients. Let’s nicheify this for a moment. Let’s assume that somebody has a niche. Perhaps they are, I’m just pulling this out because one of my clients is killing in this area, arborists. These are tree people, people who own companies that manage trees, clean trees, and all that tree stuff. How would you use LinkedIn to deliver content that might be particularly interesting for tree people?
Robert: What I would do if those are my clients, I’d talk about how my company is helping the environment because that’s going to really resonate with those folks. That’s going to strike a cord. I would talk about, you know, ” Congratulations to experts whom we just started working with at this company of arborists.” Actually, no. “Wait. They work with us. They’re big in the environment. Maybe we should call these guys.”
If you do that enough, you are going to start to create… not going to happen after one post, two posts, three posts. It takes a bit of time, but the more effort you put into it, the stronger personal brand you’re going to create for you and your agency as well. That is going to bring people to you over time.
Michael: Now, talk to us about, let’s say, hyperlinks to content that might go on your website. For example, my client has a piece. It’s something like, “Eight things that every successful arborist does.” Real simple, very top-of-funnel, high level of interest to pretty much every arborist. They’re not looking for insurance. They’re not even necessarily thinking about safety and protection, but doggone, I want to be successful and this guy’s got a thing. How would you promote that on LinkedIn?
Robert: In some case, I would do it in two ways. The first you can do a short little blurb and a link back to your website, but the challenge is any third-party links get deprioritized in the LinkedIn feed.
Michael: Good to know. I’m thrilled you passed that on. Let’s say there is a solid paragraph with a link to my website. As soon as you add the link, you’re going to get deprioritized?
Robert: You won’t make it to as many people as if you just would cut that article and paste it directly into the feed and click post.
Michael: How many words can you get into the feed?
Robert: About 1,300 characters.
Michael: Okay. All right.
Robert: It can’t bee too long.
Michael: [laughs] I don’t know if there has been good research on how long of a posting people actually were reading LinkedIn because it’s going to be different from platform to platform.
Robert: The thing is just three lines are going to show up so you want to make sure you can grab someone. What’s the hook that’s going to get people on the first line? Three lines will appear in their feed, and if it’s interesting enough, they’ll click to see more on your link directly. I think those are 1,300 characters that got 150,000 views and subscribers.
Michael: Wow. Okay. 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: 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 2000-word posts. Post one a week for five weeks.
Michael: Five 200-word posts.
Robert: 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.”
Michael: Man, you are smart. You create your own comment.
Robert: That’s right.
Michael: Oh, man. Okay.
Robert: You drive people to the comment. That way it’s still a posted text only, so it goes to more people and you still get the link in the first comment. They can still click away to the website if they want to.
Michael: Well, I am never going to say that I never learned anything in this podcast series. Thank you for sharing that one. That was good. All right. Well, we’re on Linkedin. Again, one of my favorite platforms. [chuckles] I am chuckling because I’ve pretty much been off of it for about 15 months and so. Well, I sold Agency Revolution about 15 months ago, and frankly, I just wanted to take a breath. Fair warning, I am coming back. Now, talk to us about connections, getting connections, best ways to get connections.
Robert: Absolutely. The three-step process that I recommend on LinkedIn and this has worked really well for myself and our clients. The first step is that personal brand that we just talked about. Strong profile, distribute content your target audience is going to be interested in, that’s the first step. Second step, engaging with others. It’s social media, not anti-social media. You got to talk to other people as well. If you’re just posting things out 24/7, you’re using a bullhorn on a street corner, people are eventually going to avoid you.
Michael: They’re going to cross the street. Okay.
Robert: That’s right. When you do get someone to accept an invitation to connect, for example, just like offline at a conference or a meeting or something like that, that’s just the beginning of the relationship. You have to cultivate that relationship online just like you’ve done for years offline. When you do want to reach out to someone, you engage with some of their posts first: like, a comment, or a share. This isn’t Instagram. This isn’t Facebook. We’re talking about LinkedIn. When you post a selfie on Instagram, you’re going to get 50 likes and 5 comments. That’s great. Most content in LinkedIn gets about five likes or less and one comment or less.
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, maybe you both went to the University of Michigan, maybe you both used to work for Bank of America, whatever that may be. Once you’ve done that, then you can reach out. You can uncover some needs by looking at their posts and their content.
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.
Michael: Do you offer to have a telephone call? What do you do?
Robert: Yes, exactly. If they accept, I say, “Hey, thank you so much for accepting my invitation to connect. I would love to schedule a 15-minute networking call with you sometime next week. I’m open on Tuesday and Wednesday. Let me know what works for you.”
Michael: Right on. Or you could send them to an appointment setter. I use Calendly, and there’s several I’ve met there. Okay. Got it. All right.
Robert: 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.
Michael: A couple of other LinkedIn-related questions. Do they still call it the Pulse where you publish articles?
Robert: It’s just the feed now. It’s on the home page. If you go to the top, then you click on home, that’s where you can publish content.
Michael: Okay. Got it. Let’s go back to the eight things successful arborists ever did, the real super top of the funnel thing that everybody in it might be interested in. Do you have any insights on the best way to try to get people– I mean, presumably, it might be a little bit sophisticated for some of our listeners, but more and more are moving in this direction where they actually have a funnel, right? Some of the other words here are actually building a list. They’re using a product like Agency Revolution or something. They capture a name and email address, and then, they can nurture that person automatically.
Do you have any other insights or recommendations on– Again, let’s just use the example of the arborist. You could jump on LinkedIn. You could search because the search function is actually getting pretty sophisticated. You could search for arborists in Minnesota and find them. You could probably put “owner” in one of the fields, and you can find owners of three companies or what have you. Do you have any insights, other than just posting it in the feed, on how you can bring something that could be of genuine value and meaning to an audience that may not know you in order to get them into the top of your funnel?
Robert: There’s also advertising. You can be hyper-targeted down to some of those things that you just said: owners of x type of company in the Minneapolis area that you needed to get to. You can get to that, and it’s relatively cheap as well. For our company, we recommend ways to do things organically. We assume that people don’t have a lot of budget right off the bat, and most people don’t. We teach people how to do things organically, but you can accelerate that process using the advertising function greatly.
Michael: How so? Let’s be completely open with each other. We are friends. Overall, the LinkedIn advertising platform, what do you think of it?
Robert: I think it’s great. I personally, again, don’t use it a whole lot, and I don’t recommend a lot of my client either. Not because it’s not great, but I teach them how to do things organically.
Michael: It does get a little bit of criticism for being relatively expensive per click. I just was curious if you got a magic key to the kingdom on that one.
Robert: I don’t, but I know it works really well [crosstalk] The board, we’ve gotten our last four or five board members from their LinkedIn ads.
Robert: [crosstalk] really well.
Michael: Terrific. All right. Is there anything else that you want to share about LinkedIn?
Robert: Yes, man. I think at the end of the day, whether it’s Linkedin or really any social channel, we as insurers have to shift the conversation from thinking about how we sell to how do we solve. We’re used selling products–
Michael: Nicely said.
Robert: We have to start thinking about how do we solve problems like the arborist example you have. What are the problems that they’re going to have? That’s the kind of content that you create so that when they read that, you’re already helping them. You’re adding value.
Robert: It talks about added value.
Michael: Okay. Got it. All right. Let’s move to another platform. Can we?
Michael: Do you want to talk Facebook?
Robert: Yes, absolutely. And Facebook…
Michael: I want to make sure that we talk two tracks on Facebook. We can do this one at a time. One, there’s the standard– The personalized– The agency Facebook page. Then, I also want you to touch on a business page for a niche. We can talk arborists all day long if you want to as an example. Is to whether or not agencies that really do have a niche, do you think they should have a page, a business page, that specializes and focuses just in that niche? Let’s take them one at a time. Let’s do general Facebook stuff first.
Robert: Yes, absolutely. Personalized 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 they are in Linkedin.
Michael: Yes. I don’t know how long you’ve felt that it’s been that way but the likely readership in percentage– Let’s say your agency has 2,000 friends that have liked your page on Facebook, but the number that are actually going to get it, do you know, in terms of organic reach, what that range is these days?
Robert: Yes. It’s less than 10%.
Michael: When you said less, it could be a lot less, right?
Robert: Yes. A lot of it depends on engagement that you’re getting. If you’re getting a ton of engagement, I know people with millions of followers on Facebook that don’t really boost anything. They still get a lot of traffic the organic, but that’s really hard. You have to have tons of engagement in everything that you post for that to happen. It really is a pay to play channel.
A lot of what we talked about on LinkedIn is applicable to Facebook. You want to establish yourself and your strong personal brands of your agency as adding value, as helping in the community, as caring about the culture of your organization and the clients that you serve every day. That kind of content and that brand, they’re very similar on LinkedIn and Facebook, but Facebook it’s a little bit more personal. You can add some more of those personal touches and mixing some of the more personal things that maybe you wouldn’t do on LinkedIn. A lot of the same content that works in one will work in the other.
Michael: All right, but there’s a big gap between. There’s the 90% that you’re not reaching. What are the kinds of things that are most likely going to increase a successful distribution of your content or readership of your content?
Robert: First and foremost, add value, as I mentioned. Talking about your community. Adding photos—photos are incredibly important.
Michael: Yes, right. It becomes a no-brainer, right?
Robert: Yes. Even more so, it’s scary. Compliance won’t like it, so you have to get it approved beforehand, but video, if you do a Facebook Live, for example, they’re really trying to push that. That’s going to get out to a lot more people than anything else. The way you get around compliance in that area is you just have it all scripted needed. You read from a script or memorize.
Michael: We don’t have quite the compliance issues that the life guys and the financial services guys have. I mean, an agent can say a lot without going to the home office about this community participation and the charitable contributions and the personnel that are winning awards and that kind of jazz. Right?
Robert: Just a simple video about, “Hey, really excited for Michael. He’s my top agent. He’s been helping so many people this year. He helped my organization do so much better than I ever done before. Big thank you, Michael. You get my shout out of a day,” or something like that.
Michael: Right on. Presumably, again, if you do mention somebody else, then it’s going to increase the likelihood– Let’s say it’s a customer. A customer really did something super cool, all right. If you mention them, then more likely, they’re going to see it. They might help promote it for you.
Robert: Yes. Tag them as well, just ask them first. Sometimes, people don’t want to be tagged; they don’t want to be involved. If it’s a commercial line, the company might not want to be officially mentioned. They get the little hairier. I always like to keep the stories about anonymous individuals. Let them come into play or talk about the agencies themselves so that your own people are okay with you talking about them.
Michael: All right. Anything else that you’d want to say about the agencies’ standard Facebook page?
Robert: I think that covered it.
Michael: I am going to circle back and ask about frequency of posts, but let’s cover some of the platforms first. Facebook niche page, a business page, for a category, a class of business, what do you suggest?
Robert: I think it’s useful. I think it’s something that you could be 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.
Michael: I think we’re talking maybe potentially about three pages. One is the agency owner could have their personal Facebook page; two, the agency should have a page; but then three, if they have a niche, should that niche have its own business page?
. What’s that?
Robert: I would keep the business page to one and include that type of content in some of the things that you post.
Michael: Fair enough.
Robert: Yes. That’d be part of a fluid launching from time to time.
Michael: Let’s talk about some of the other platforms that everybody knows the name and we all get questions—Instagram.
Robert: Instagram, it’s really a lifestyle channel. But in the insurance industry I haven’t seen a lot of people using Instagram to generate business. Very similar to Facebook, if you want to post images with some of the things that you’re doing, some congratulations or a video about you being out in the field and being excited to be in x town again for the first time in a while, that stuff could work, but you’re going to work hard to get an audience on Instagram. I think your time is probably better spent elsewhere.
Michael: Clearly, there is a point of diminishing returns. You could spend all of your time on social, and you could jump from platform to platform. There could be exceptions, and it’s possible that some people just flat out want an Instagram page because they like the lifestyle part of it. We know that, clearly, there are businesses, let’s take a Kardashian kind of example where there’s a very social business where Instagram is a critical part of their success. You really can’t separate the business from the social.
Robert: There’s only a personal brand in their lifestyle.
Michael: Yes. Let’s suppose that there is somebody who—I’m just spitballing here, Rob—maybe, they insure aviation; they insure small planes and that kind of jazz, and maybe they jump out of planes. If their passion and hobby is the same stuff that they sell insurance for, then conceivably, Instagram could be a neat platform to show how passionate they are about this category business.
Robert: I think a great example is the Watch Company Movement where it’s just two guys that built a bunch of watches. They didn’t even have a very large election, but they got this incredibly large Instagram following. They’re showing the watches in different situations, talking about their lifestyle, and it was really exciting. Some of the places they would go and showcase the watches, and they just got sold for a huge amount to a big company recently.
Michael: Cool. Let’s see. Do we want to talk about the others? Pinterest. Do you want to say anything about that?
Robert: What I always say is you want to go where your target audience is. If you’re B2B, commercial lines, I would recommend LinkedIn. B2C, PNC, sales, I would recommend Facebook. I’d start there with both of those. As you mentioned, there’s only a certain amount of time in a day, so you got to be very hyper-targeted with the people that you’re going after.
Michael: I don’t want to just social sell, I want to sell too. Twitter, give me your thoughts on that, and then, I’ll share my insurance perspective on it.
Robert: I think Twitter can be useful to join conversations. I think a lot of people tend to jump in and really start selling, and you’ve got to earn that trust or engage with them. Just like I mentioned on LinkedIn, you’ve got to engage with others, earn that trust over time. Once they find out what you do, then you can take advantage of some opportunities which will present themselves as you start to get to know somebody.
Michael: Got it. Actually, I’m going to ask the listeners to respond to this one so they can email me or what have you. I was pretty active on Twitter prior to the sale of the company, and what I noticed was that I had some really interesting engagement conversations with the InsurTech Community, but the insurance agent community wasn’t particularly engaged. There were, of course, a handful of thought leaders. It was useful there. I think it’s possible that it might be a growing platform, but I have no proof of it in the insurance industry. There you go. It really may have way much more to do with your niche because some niches are more– The technology niches are all over it and some others not so much.
Here’s another question for the whole thing. In the ideal world, Rob, you seem to be acutely sensitive with the fact that there is a point of diminishing returns and no insurance agent ideally wants to spend all their day on platforms, but if we had a formula, like a frequency formula for LinkedIn or a frequency formula for Facebook, what do you think it should be? How often should this market post?
Robert: It’s a great question. I recommend that people go on the channel daily. 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.
Michael: LinkedIn, three to five, did you say; and Facebook, a little more?
Robert: Yes, I would say Facebook like five to seven because Facebook is more weekends as well, LinkedIn is a bit more during [crosstalk].
Michael: That too, right. I know there’s a lot of research on that. It probably has changed since I’ve looked at it, but I mean LinkedIn it’s pretty much a daytime gig and Facebook certainly leans a lot more heavily towards evenings and weekends.
Robert: Well, I will put an asterisk by that. Actually, LinkedIn works the best for myself and my clients and LinkedIn is posting before or after work hours.
Robert: Just before working then work out. Right before work and right after work is when people usually jump on it, so I’d recommend, say, eight o’clock or six o’clock in your own time.
Michael: Interesting. Okay. Got it. In terms of mixing it up. Like on Facebook, some people think, well, you should do community posts maybe 60%, 70% of the time and a person will post a certain percentage of the time. Then actually say something about insurance a little bit. Do you have any strong feelings about that? How you mix up the recipe of what gets delivered?
Robert: Most of the content I think it should be that first person authentic content: pictures at your agency, talking about your culture, what you’re doing in the community, stories of how you’ve helped people in the past. I think that should probably be about two-thirds of what you do and the remaining third a mixture of company content and third-party content. You do still want to add a value. New regulations, for example, changes in the market, that kind of stuff. You still want to add some of that third-party content as well.
Michael: Got it. All right. Rob, I have tons of notes, and I can’t wait to get all of this organized. [laughs] I want to encourage the listeners to do the same. It sounds like you would recommend, let me hear your feedback on this, like agents, probably, should schedule an appointment with themselves on basically pretty much a daily basis, to set aside 30, 45 minutes to do–
Robert: Let’s say about 30 is probably all you’re going to need.
Michael: 30 minutes? Okay. What else do we need to say about social selling?
Robert: I think that’s it.
Michael: Really, this is great content.
Robert: That’s the basis, and we’re always happy to talk and help out others if any of your listeners want to learn more information.
Michael: Well, okay, let’s dive into that. If I suspect that a lot of people will want to learn more and that they will want to be guided on their path. Rob, if somebody wants to learn more about what you do or, say, have a question for you, what’s the best way that they can reach out to you?
Robert: Find me on LinkedIn. [laughs] Robert Knop. K-N-O-P. I can give you a phone number as well.
Michael: Yes, whatever works for you. It’s Robert Knop, and that’s K-N-O-P. One P, right?
Robert: That’s right.
Michael: I assume that there are going to be some others on LinkedIn, right?
Robert: I’ll come up first.
Michael: Okay, you’ll come up first.
Robert: With my personal branding I’ll come up first.
Michael: There is a Michael Jans in Germany, and I’m not that guy. All right. Robert Knop on LinkedIn. One P. Then, you said phone number?
Robert: Yes, you can reach us at 323-972-3566
Michael: If somebody wanted to just shoot you an email?
Robert: Yes, I can give you my personal email. It’s R as in Robert; Last name is K-N-O-P @assistyoutoday.com.
Michael: Very good. All right. Robert, this has been a ton of fun and super duper useful, so I want to thank you for your generosity, very much.
Robert: Absolutely. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Michael: Have a great day.
Robert: Thanks. You too.