Ryan Deeds – Vice President of Technology and Data Management at Assurex Global


Ryan Deeds – Vice President of Technology and Data Management at Assurex Global on the Connected Insurance Podcast presented by Agency Revolution

Insurance data nerd reveals secrets to creating digital content that wins the hearts of insurance consumers

Ryan Deeds is one of the biggest insurance nerds in the entire industry – it’s a big reason why he writes for Insurance Nerds and co-hosts The Digital Broker Podcast alongside Steve Anderson when he’s not pouring himself over raw data as Assurex Global’s Vice President of Technology and Data Management. Ryan’s experience and positions afford him powerful and relevant insight into what’s working for insurance agencies and brokerages today.

Listen to this information-loaded discussion and discover:

    • Ryan’s philosophy about what makes great content (and why ‘who it comes from’ matters more than you think).
    • Leveraging video for your agency the right way. When to use outside content, produce your own videos… and surprising advice on what dress-codes will help you connect with prospects!
  • How you need to adjust your social media distribution strategy according to your audience and the platform you’re connecting with them on.  

Don’t miss this important conversation with one of the insurance industries most dedicated students and thought leaders!

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 industry’s leading figures.

Transcript

Joel: Ryan Deeds here joining us on The Connected Insurance Podcast. I am super excited, Ryan, to have you here. Thank you so much.

Ryan: I’m glad to be here. You sound very excited, so that’s good because I like a dude with passion. I got a little passion, so I’m cool with it.

Joel: You know what, I am excited about this podcast for a couple of reasons. Number one, the opportunity to chat with someone like you, who is obviously one of the great thought leaders in this industry. Also, a chance to chat about a topic that I am super passionate about, and that is content for insurance agencies. It’s such a huge deal right now.

Ryan: It is. I think that the challenge, it’s so easy to one-off something. “I write three articles and I’ll throw it out there and I’m going to get all the likes and I’m going to get all the love back.” I think that’s the initial thought. Like, “I’m going to post a Facebook post out there, and it’s going to get 1000 likes. If that doesn’t happen then I’m never doing it again.”

Joel: That’s something I hear as part of my day-to-day role is I talk to insurance agents day in and day out. The most common thing I hear is, “We tried that on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and it didn’t work. We got no results. We didn’t write any business from it.” Your opinion. I just don’t see that’s how social media content works.

Ryan: I totally agree. I don’t think you go in for a direct return on investment. I think that it’s a brand differentiator because you’re confident enough in your ability to produce problem-solving content. I think it shows that you’re articulate, that you know how to use the mediums that are out there, that you’re modern, and that you’re unafraid to show some solutions because you know execution differentiates almost everything else.

Those are all the subtle things that I think individuals start to understand once you have a long term social media strategy. I think it’s building trust and authority in specific spaces if you have your strategy effectively defined.

Joel: I agree. Let me ask you this. Let me play insurance agent here for a minute. You scared me as an agent when you said, “long term strategy.” This means I’m going to have to do something more than once as we previously suggested. Let’s talk about that. Define long term strategy. What kind of timeline should we be talking about here, as far as putting a plan together and then maybe the thought of possibly seeing some results?

Ryan: If you’re starting in 2019, I think you have to start with the idea that this is going to be a forever project, that you’re just going to consistently iterate over. I think the more important thing before you enter that world is what are your expected results from that, and are they realistic, and how will you change your cadence, your content based on those results? Because you’re looking for something.

I just don’t think you can say, “Hey, we put five Facebook posts out. We got $500 for the business. It was effective.” That’s not the play. It’s so much more about building a community. It’s weird because you’re an insurance agency, but it can happen. A lot of the larger brokers we’re seeing have significant success in community awareness and involvement. I think you can do the exact same thing as far as-

Joel: I agree. When we talk about cadence, we know that on social media, the consistency factors there. People expect to see all the time. As a busy Insurance agency, that’s just not really practical. How does an insurance agency be effective on social media, knowing that they’re still going to have to do the insurance agency thing because most agencies just don’t have the ability? You know what? That’s not fair.

I don’t know that they saying they don’t have the ability. They always have the ability, but they just don’t jump on the opportunity to hire someone to do this full time. It ends up being the agency manager, the agency owner that falls on them to create this content. How often do they have to be doing this to be effective?

Ryan: First, I think that if you look at where your dollars are going, I think that if you’re doing social media marketing, and that everybody in the organization, producers included, should have to give something up to help cover that. I think long term, this is just a position that’s going to be there forever. This is how we communicate now. This is how we show value and tell our story.

The fact that we are archaic in our ability to do that, doesn’t mean we have to be that way going forward, and then the modern folks they are absolutely out there pounding the pavement now. Cadence is going to all depend on what channel you decide to go on. Twitter has a much larger, and I would always go value over volume. I would go valuable content. Like you said, consistently over 50 tweets, that might not matter. Just to put it out there.

I would think that on Twitter, you’re going to have maybe a couple of tweets a day if you can find valuable content. On LinkedIn, maybe two or three posts a week, in my opinion, is what I would like to see, especially from an agency that has more than four or five producers, because those producers should be generating content relevant to their niches.

Facebook, it’s a very different play there. I think that it’s all about the strategies that they’re using in the Facebook tool. Are they delivering information as a contest based? What’s the pitch that’s going to get people engaged in the Facebook page? Is it factoids? Is it fun afternoon stuff that you’re providing? Is it historical references of insurance? It just depends on what your play is.

Joel: A super common thing we hear from, and you go to events is, “Where should I be? Should I be on Facebook? Should I be on LinkedIn? Should I be on Twitter? Should I be on Instagram?” I think what you just said was something that I remember hearing a long time ago, and then I always took it in my experience when I was in marketing my agency, is you need to be where your clients or your prospects’ eyes are.

I think what you just said is you need to know who your client is. Then that’s where you’re going to focus your energy.

Ryan: If you’re a personal lines agency that is trying to generate personal lines business and your marketing on LinkedIn, probably doing it wrong. If you are a purely, really focused on large risk management accounts, and you’re not on LinkedIn and you’re putting stuff on Facebook, hoping to drive that, again, you’re probably doing it wrong. I think that when you look at the platforms that I don’t know that an agency cannot be on LinkedIn.

I’ve just seen so many business synergies happen on that platform, and it’s just grown. It’s crazy how powerful LinkedIn is right now, in my opinion. When you talk to some of the big thought leaders that are out there, they are really, really hot on LinkedIn, from a business perspective.

Facebook still has the captive audience of very specific buying demographic. You could target ads very specifically on there. Instagram to me, it just depends on who you’re trying to– If you have a large millennial group of clients or you’re trying to break into that market, then yes, I think you need to be on Instagram or Snap or something like Snapchat, where they are.

The fundamental thing that you said is correct. Before I enter into this, what am I delivering? What’s valuable? What has been successful? Go look at a couple of agencies that you dig or other companies that are financial service companies that you dig and see how they connected with their audiences effectively. I think that that helps so much when you start to see something that actually is working.

Joel: All right. Let’s break it down a little bit because I know the people that are tuning into this podcast, there’s going to be a batch of them that are focused on commercial lines or have a portion of their agencies that’s focused on commercial lines, and then there’s going to be a batch of personal line. Let’s talk commercial lines for a moment. I wholeheartedly share your opinion that if you’re not on LinkedIn, you need to be. What does a commercial lines agency do on LinkedIn? I hear you 100%, two or three posts a week. What are we posting? Are we grabbing stuff from carriers on certain coverage? Do you think there’s a better strategy than that?

Ryan: I think you can do that. You can repost other content. That doesn’t drive the engagement. I want to see my producers write 750-word articles about the top three risks that you didn’t know about the owner of x thing. I want to see, did you know about this specific loss in this industry. The producers need to be generating that because I believe that if I’m looking for a partner in the insurance and I come to a producer that’s written three or four articles about the topic that we’re talking about. It validates that person so freaking much especially if what they write resonates with what I know.

Inversely, if I go to just a larger– Say that I’ve gotten independent that has a producer that’s written four or five articles, and then I go to Willis and they’ve got a producer that isn’t, it may make my choice a little harder because the expert wins today. Everybody wants to do business with the expert. When we’re talking about a tactical product that’s going out on the LinkedIn because every time that producer generates that article, they should be sending it to their prospects and clients that fit that article’s needs.

To me, it’s just a touch point. Producers have to be touching their freaking prospects, the ones that they didn’t win quarterly to keep front of mind. This is just an easy way in my opinion to do that, but I just don’t see the drive in the producers for the most part to generate that content.

Joel: It’s funny you say that because isn’t that the definition of a producer, somebody that goes out brings the business in and closes it. To add on to that, I think what you just said, just to summarize it really, is that a content strategy on the commercial line side, and I think we’ll find there’s some synergy here for the person line side is, it doesn’t fall on that one person. The best strategy is a team effort.

On the commercial line side, you’re definitely going to have producers that have expertise in a niche or two. Let them be the experts in that and start leveraging that as an agency as a whole.

Ryan: I would like to see producers write content, but I think operationally the agency has a responsibility to generate content if the producers will not. Some agency principles don’t want their producers thinking around on LinkedIn when they could be closing next deal over there. I think that mentality will shift. In my opinion, if the producers are not generating content, the agency could generate content, and then put it out as that producer. There’s a multitude of ways to do that either by having somebody internal write it, having a ghostwriter off of one of those platforms like Upwork. Sometimes you do not want to be relying on producers to create any kind of scheduled content because it almost always falls by the wayside.

Joel: Consistency is the big part, but what about the personal touch, like the authenticity that comes even if it’s not the most professional piece in the world? Thoughts on that area.

Ryan: Well, I did this at an agency, was we were trying to create a content strategy. We knew we wanted to create a blog. We knew we didn’t trust us ourselves internally to be able to do it. We went out to a platform got a writer that knew some about insurance. We gave that writer a schedule that said, “Hey, we want two pieces a month. This is what we want the topics to be on. We may shift it if something pops up, like ACA, something like that, but this is the schedule.”

That writer would deliver it to us two or three weeks before it was due to be published. We would run that through the producer. The producer may even edit it and make some adjustments to it, make it more their own a little bit. Then we would send that out on the blog and LinkedIn, and the other platforms that we wanted to as the producer with a very limited amount of overhead that person picked up. Obviously, it would be within that producer’s niche and expertise. That’s why they would own it.

I did feel like that was a pretty effective strategy. It gave the agency operational experience on what social media was supposed to do, what its actual impact was, how to judge success, and whatnot. It bolstered the producers that that content was released under and so that wasn’t a bad meet in the middle eye. Personally, it drives me crazy that producers don’t write LinkedIn articles because it’s such an easy thing to do. It’s probably the most impactful thing that they can do. It’s just it just drives me nuts that we don’t see more of that happening.

Joel: All right, so there you have it on the LinkedIn commercial lines, expertise says, “Why aren’t you doing it?” If you’re a producer and you’re listening to this podcast, start doing it. I couldn’t agree more with what was just said. It’s easy. The ability to write is limitless. Your audience is limitless on LinkedIn for your niche. I love it.

Let’s flip the script on that a little bit now and let’s talk about the person line side. I think Facebook is where person line is. That’s what I believe. What are your thoughts?

Ryan: I think so. I think because the marketing dollars on Facebook, although they still go fast, they can go much more specifically. If you’re trying to target high net worth in Davidson County, Facebook is the way to go because the demographics on the thing allows you to target that segment. I think that most agencies probably don’t have a clue on how powerful the targeting on Facebook is. They should at least take a look at that because that’ll blow your mind. I think there’s that aspect that the marketing piece of it that’s very impactful. Then I think if you’re generating proactive content that speaks to those, the class of problems.

You think how to put up a fail video, throw up a fail video on household fail video and today you got coverage. Everybody will watch a fail video. Everybody understands what that is. It’s funny. It gets people thinking about the real-life ramifications of the freak of not having insurance. If you have Fail Video Friday, and that’s what you did, all you’re doing is going to find on YouTube content posted about and maybe making a few words.

I think it really comes back to that definition of who you’re trying to hit and what you’re trying to carve there. Are you building a community? What’s your purpose on Facebook? How are you providing value to that client base?

Joel: That leads to my next question, tying a little bit back to LinkedIn. Do we feel like the cadence needs to be the same for LinkedIn and Facebook? There’s a feeling or a general belief that on Facebook, you need to be there much more often than maybe LinkedIn?

Ryan: I think so. I think that people on Facebook are a lot more used to having four posts a day, five posts a day. It’s not nearly as saturated. It doesn’t get nearly as loud. I very rarely ever see like one person or one company post five things on LinkedIn, that just doesn’t happen. When it does, it starts to get annoying. On Facebook, you scroll so quickly that I think that the more relevant content that you can post at the– If you can do that five times a day– You’re going to see you’ll see if it works or not. It’s all going to be about the content that you’ve put out. I’ve had videos that I’ve put out that have gotten 500 views. I’ve got videos that I’ve put out and I’ve got like 17,000 views, and it’s so hard to judge what’s going to resonate, and over time you do get better at that.

Joel: Let’s talk about that for a minute. You mentioned video. I love video. I think that’s the only thing I seem to look at when I’m online when I’m on social media. That’s kind of how my brain works. I don’t think I’m that uncommon in that. How does an agency come up with a creative video? Do you do rob from YouTube and these places or do you get original?

Ryan: I don’t think so. If you think about the underlying power of an agency, what really differentiates an agency is the service staff, the account managers. You can ask them good producers, and they’re going to put up big numbers but if you’re growing, that means that you’re retaining your service and you’re following through with your promises, you have a good account manager.

What if there was a technology that allowed you to teleport your account manager from their space to your client’s space, to be able to give them a five-minute overview of a policy or to get their face in front of them where they can see the passion that they had for protecting that classic client. I’m so hot on video for my kids because I’m watching my kids. The kids, all they deal with is video today. They have a video in and happening. I think that is a place that has a huge amount of growth from the business side. In the insurance agency space, I just see a ton of use there. Yes, if you’re going to do social media videos, I think you could absolutely mix it up by getting stuff from YouTube that aligns to your vision. At the same time, I think you should be making authentic selfie cam videos that help get your account managers out and about, because the passion that they have I think will bring people to you. I want to work with that person that’s so passionate about protecting petroleum trucks, whatever it’s going to be.

Joel: Yes, I love it. I think the authentic piece is key. I think a lot of people think, “How am I going to do video? I got to go get this big expensive camera, I have to have all this mic setup and I need this, I need that,” when the reality is you have everything you need at your fingertips. Almost everybody has a cell phone, everybody likely has a webcam on their computer now. That’s all it takes to really create an effective piece of content for social media or for any purpose for that matter right now.

Ryan: I totally agree with you. I think what we’re seeing is authenticity is key. You can do polished videos with HDR, but what you’re seeing, especially on LinkedIn, is videos of people in cars, talking heads on their cell phones, my videos are typically in hoodies. I think that lack of polish then lowers the barrier to entry for everybody else, as long as your message is good, and to me, tell a story. Everybody likes a story. If you’re going to tell a story, they’re going to equate it back to their lives, they’re going to find something in that story that they may be able to connect with. How does the product enhance a story? It’s got to be short. You can’t be making some eight-minute video, I’d like to see 90-second videos.

Joel: I agree wholeheartedly. I’m sitting here I’m thinking, “I know that there’s people listening to this once again,” they’re thinking, “What do we talk about?” I mean, to me, an insurance agency is an endless stream of stories–

Ryan: Claims, man, claims, all day claims. If you want to lead with fear, you can talk about claims, the incidents that occurred on no-covered situations. Or if you wanted to lead with positivity, you could talk about how this weird coverage ended up saving this thing. People always love to hear claims stories, always. I think that there’s a treasure trove of compelling stuff there. Now, trying to explain coverage, which I see on video a lot, I just think it’s a hard win there because, man, coverage, you got to be a dynamic speaker to make coverage interesting.

Joel: It’s a snooze fest. Let’s be honest. Sometimes it can get really boring or when we’re talking about the intricate coverages of a policy, whether that’s personal lines, commercial lines, financial services, or anything, but when you can put that real life like what that boring piece of coverage actually means, what you can see that in real life and make sense, then all of a sudden, you have a captive audience.

Ryan: Yes, I think that as you think through the different stories that you can tell the different lives, that your agency has changed from all kinds of different fronts, being employed benefits and being PNC, obviously, you’re always going to be careful with personal information, but there are a lot of stories out there that can help people and help educate people in a way that doesn’t seem educated. People are not going to care about D&O coverage for the most part, but if you can equate D&O coverage to a story, how it helped an organization in 90 seconds and get your face on there, you’re winning.

Joel: Absolutely. Even better, we’re on the Facebook side of video. Amazing if an agency took the lead and incorporated some real life, maybe a client jumping on there. I know that’s a little bit more work. That’s not something you’re going to do on a daily cadence, but this is stuff that’s truly powerful on a semi-regular basis to be able to create with that phone. Simple as that.

Ryan: I’ll tell you it was weird like 2008, man, 2008, this guy Luke Vaughn, he was a lost control dude at Lanier Upshaw. I was big into video at the time. I had this whole video rig. I still have a good SLR camera, a steady cam and all that stuff. He’s like, “Hey, you want to go out to this client with me and check it out as Bach Tower or beautiful freaking place. We can go inside, do all this stuff.” I was like, “Heck, yes, let’s do it.” I went, took the camera, did all this video, edited this thing together, sent it over to Bach Tower. They loved it.

It was just a little promo about some of the areas that they had, but we were using it to showcase them as a client of ours because they’re a premier client in that area of Florida. It really went over pretty well. This was way back in the day. This is early, early. I think today there are many ways to think about how your synergy with that client can help you, give you content to put out there that they will share and they’ll be happy for others to share that know them. It’s a win there.

Joel: Who doesn’t want to see their own picture? Sometimes a client gets involved, “Hey, look, I was involved in this.” Next thing you know it’s the floodgates open with people coming in all because you just did the right thing, and you shared a story that could potentially positively impact people if they run into the same situation.

Ryan: I totally agree. I think it’s like you said, this kind of content it’s like a bank. Every time you generate content you put into your bank and that interest grows with time. Some of the stuff that I’m sure that you have out there from five years ago still generate some click or some interest. When you think about if you do it strategically, and you amass 50 pieces of good content a year, what does that do for you over five years? I think it’s a very difficult thing to quantify. You don’t want to miss that.

Joel: No, absolutely. I think that’s a great point when we talk about how much, 50 pieces of content over a year is not that much. That’s less than once a week. Taking the time, and when we say time, like you said, it doesn’t have to be professional, it can be on that cell phone or on that webcam, creating that and getting that out there. If you think about that in the grand scheme, that’s not a lot of time.

Ryan: I think people worry about tarnishing the brand. I think it’s like you said, we don’t want to put something out. First, they’re worried about what they’re going to say, “Am I going to say something that’s going to offend people?” Which I think is legitimate. In today’s society, it’s hard, almost not to say something to offend people. I think that that’s always going to be out there. I also think then, if you’re used to this very professional vibe in your insurance agency, to go and do a one-off video or a video on your cell phone that you’re representing them, it feels weird to some of those principles until you start showing them something. You got to show them how it’s going to work. I’ve tried to do it a couple of times and I’ve gotten a massive amount of reticence from different agencies.

Joel: You talked about tarnishing the brand and that’s interesting. You’re adding incredible amount of value here, and I’d love to share just a little personal experience that you and I’ve actually discussed before about using video to get people to attend a meeting with me. When I first started doing that, I always want to represent Agency Revolution as a company I believed in for a long time, has a great reputation, we’re obviously working with independent insurance agency, certain level professionalism is expected.

I do my videos and I make sure I have a nice Agency Revolution colored shirt on, make sure my background was good. Then, quite honestly, it worked well, but then I got lazy and I didn’t have my shirt one day, it must have been in the laundry. I just started doing it with T-shirts. What I noticed was the more casual or the more authentic I was in the video, the better the response was.

Ryan: I agree with that. I think it was so awesome. I took that idea of yours. I’m throwing this conference for Assurex in June. After you and I got off our initial conversation, I went, took a video and sent that my meeting’s person Maggie over Assurex and I was like, “I want to do this.” She’s like, “Heck, yes.” Big ups to you on that one.

Joel: I think it’s those little things where, here we go, we’re getting off topic, but we’re talking about creating great content, whether it’s on social media, or just purely to send to some clients via email or some other way, finding unique ways to represent yourself and your company, or what’s going to separate you from the competitors?

Ryan: I think that it falls within the context of how you’re going to use modern tools going forward to communicate with prospects and clients because, in my opinion, an agency that sits back and says, “Okay, you know what we’re going to do for any client that’s over X revenue size, we’re going to do a three minute video summary of their stuff. We’re going to put the legal verbiage that says, ‘This is not all inclusive for any more details, look at your policies.’ But here’s an overall summarization of the coverages that you have. We’re going to send that over to you on a private link, you can have it forever. Bring Cheryl up, she’s going to be excited to explain this to you.”

I believe that is a scalable solution that you’ve just got your account managers in front of that client, you’ve shown your technological prowess and you’re using engaging technology. That stuff is going to happen going forward and that’s where our heads have to be on how to really enhance the experience with our agencies.

Joel: I love it. I can’t imagine an agency not doing that on larger accounts. Turn aspect, any accounts– I’m a personal lines guy, that’s where my experience came from. I talk to agents now and I say, “I can’t imagine sending out a quote, emailing a quote to somebody that called when how much more effective it would be to use a simple platform like Loom or some other instant recording to send that video quote.” How have you just separate yourself from all the other emails that they’re going to get? Send it in video.

Ryan: I agree with you. I think the more that you can– Where we are today with video is, I think, when you look at some ubiquitous technology. This is just going to be more and more. You got to have cameras at the desk. That was a big push for me, I wanted everybody had webcams at the desk because I really felt like with Slack we can hop on video with the underwriter, the client, the producer in marketing all at the same time. I always say this, I want to have less communication but more relevant communication that’s more emotionally impactful for the client.

Joel: I love it. I love it. For me, you say having every desk the more people use it, the more comfortable. Initially when that producer that CSR, that’s maybe a little nervous about creating that piece of video content, because they’re just never done it before, but they know it’s just going to- it’s just Joel sending a video to Ryan and the more I do that, the more comfortable I get. Well, then all of a sudden, I have a great opportunity to maybe create for my expertise, something for our Facebook page. I’m going to be a whole lot more comfortable doing that. Once I’ve sent two or three small snippet videos off to some clients or prospects.

Ryan: How do you deal with, “Well, we don’t want to put any content out there that they’re going to base our decision on. They’re going to do something, I’m going to come back and get sued because risk on in content.” I think that’s another thing that stops people from doing stuff.

Joel: Yes. I think if you’re scared, if you spend your whole work life or business life being scared to do something, you’ll never do anything. You would have never opened a business in the first place. I remember the agency owner that I used to work for once said, “Well, that’s why we have you now. If we make a mistake, it’s there. It’s not that we’re trying to intentionally create claims but you know what? We’re not going to stop doing business either.”

Ryan: Right. I think that’s so critical. It’s just you can either be in fear of making a mistake and not see the changes that are happening, or you can go ahead and– Because if you don’t change, you’re not going to be around. There’s just no doubt about it. Everybody’s got to evolve. You can take some risks on both the exposure and some of this new technology, but get ahead of the game from your experience because, again, I’m not a big outsourcer with a lot of this stuff. I feel like down the stretch it becomes core to the agency.

The more pain or the more lessons they can go through at this level makes them so much better down the road. That’s a very different opinion than a lot of people have. It’s just I feel they need to institutionalize these lessons instead of just giving it to other people.

Joel: Yes, I agree. At a certain point, it’s not so much– I mean, take the part of it. If you’re worried about making mistakes, it’s not so much making mistakes, it’s how you react if you do trip up. We all make mistakes. We all may make an error but how you react to those, I think is where you can really, truly shine through.

Ryan: Right, for sure. I think you’d have to discuss all that because we’ve all seen content that seemed innocuous go errant. I think that always you should have some wide range in discussions about that. I definitely think that this is how we communicate. You’re going to generate content, put it out there and people are going to learn to trust you through that. That’s happening more and more today. If that’s video, if that’s writing, whatever that looks like. The agencies that learn how to do that now and are already doing that, they’re ahead of the game. They just are, I think it’s such a hard thing to articulate how much we need to get in that space.

Joel: Yes, just to summarize all that. We’re talking about, in my opinion, the ability not to create tons and tons of content, but relevant content. When we do that, realistically, Ryan, what can an agency expect? What should their expectations be as far as results? I guess it depends on the content to a certain extent.

Ryan: It does. I think it’s going to be slow. I think that the number one thing they need to do is be consistent. Say, “Look, for six months we’re going to put out two posts a month on LinkedIn. We’re going to determine which one of those and what kind of writing style resonated the most.” It takes a long time. You could have some quick wins by posting funny stuff, but I don’t really know that that’s what you want. I would rather an engaged community than a huge community. I would much prefer to have a bunch of engaged followers than have just a bunch of folks.

I think that if you’re on LinkedIn, have a five or six month strategy where you’re posting content, then you’re going to stop or not stop, but you’re going to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. On Facebook, you’re going to be posting probably with a lot more regularity. You’re going to be looking at likes, views and clicks on that. You’re not looking at dollars, you’re trying to increase your audience with those that your message resonates with. If it doesn’t go to that, it doesn’t really matter because it’s not going to help bolster your message long term, I don’t think.

Joel: I like that. It’s so often I hear from an agent that says, “Yes, we used to do stuff on Facebook, but we never saw anything from it.” My incident response is, “You don’t know that, so many people– If you think that somebody just decides today, ‘Hey, I’m going to call your agency without doing some research, whether that’s to your website, to your social media,’ you’re sadly mistaken.” Well, they may have in fact picked up the phone to call you. They more than likely look for you on social media or maybe saw something on social media. If you’re even there before they made that call.

Ryan: I guarantee you thay googled. I think that probably when a producer leaves the first place they go is Google. Google is going to then pick up. When I have a sales person that calls me, if I actually connect with that person and think I like that person, I’m hitting LinkedIn almost immediately for them. Just to see what they’re about, have they been top of their job 15 times, they know what they’re talking about, is this somebody I have validity. LinkedIn gives me all that. I think that yes, you’ve got to be where you’re. That’s the main thing, right, Joel?

That’s what we’re really talking about, is be where your clients are, be where your prospects are, put out messaging that’s specific to their problems. That may take some internal dialogue to sit down, start figuring out what their problems are, and then how do you generate content to address that. I think if you did that with regularity, over time, you would see your following grow. I think analytics and Facebook are hard for me because you’re always looking at views, click through ratio and all kinds of different stuff in there. I just like to see likes. How many people liked it?

Joel: Yes, I agree. Let me play devils advocate just here for one moment. Once again, talking to agents all day every day, virtually every one of them tells me the same thing is, “We grow our business through referrals, we don’t need those things.”

Ryan: Yes, that’s going to fail. The referrals are not going to be scalable platforms that are using digital marketing to address specific pain points, especially as the older buyer moves out of the buying ranks and the younger buyer comes in. Those folks– What you can do with a search today is so much more effective. What they’re looking for is capabilities. Referrals are always going to be a part of it, but it is not the long term strategy. You’re going to get your butt trumped by platforms if your production model in 5 years or 10 years is still solely based on hoping to find somebody that can generate you X number of revenue, and that’s not going to be it because you’re going to get just warped by folks that understand how to get that mass message out there.

Joel: Absolutely, and if you think for a minute that even a referral is just blindly picking up the phone and calling you, you are sadly mistaken.

Ryan: Yes, referral business is great and oftentimes season producers that have large books of business they can exist on referral business, but that’s not actually what the agency need. The agency doesn’t need to help that person, the agency needs to help the person that’s coming into the game, trying to validate, maybe pushing– In my world 75,000 or 100,000 revenue a year, they’re trying to get him to that 150,000 or 175,000.

That’s where you’re going to want scalable platform, that’s where you’re going to want to have these messages that are able to be, that you’re building a treasure trove of content because it’s not only for today, it’s also for down the stretch when more and more people are researching stuff. If I have a blog that’s talking about construction insurance, I’ve written on it for 5 years, I’ve kept it up to date and everything’s accurate. I have a hell of a lot more validity than somebody who has four pieces of content that are out there that are discussing it a little bit.

Joel: 100%, absolutely love it. I think we’ve had a great discussion here about content, and a true strategy for me just to simplify it, quality over quantity, be unique, be authentic. What else would you add to that, Ryan?

Ryan: Be where your clients are. That’s the main thing, is like you said, don’t go for personal lines people on LinkedIn, if you’re trying to pick up corporate accounts on Facebook, that may not be the best utilization. Try to understand from your staff and from your people where your clients are. If you’re PL, it’s different than if you’re EB and if you’re PNC, all those things are a little bit different.

Joel: Absolutely. Ryan, before we sign off here, where can people find more about Ryan Deeds?

Ryan: Hop on LinkedIn, man, all day, every day. Ryan Deeds in LinkedIn, RDeeds at assurexglobal.com. That’s my day job and one I love very much [chuckles].

Joel: Awesome. I am super– I’ve been following you for some time on LinkedIn, happy that we were able to connect in this and I really appreciate the value you’ve just added to our audience and thanks so much.

Ryan: I appreciate the time, my brother. Anytime.


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