ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

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

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

Click here for Part 1 and Here for Part 2

What Do I Use It For and What Makes For Good Content...

One of the biggest benefits insurance agents can use social media for is lead generation.

Being a regular on the social networks allows for you to keep your name in front of people. Sharing client success stories (obviously redacting any sensitive information) may result in peaking someone's interest, monitoring conversations where your audience may be expressing concerns about their rates, coverage or even level of customer service could provide the opportunity to politely reach out to those individuals and offer a free review of their policies.

If your agency already has a website, optimizing your profile on social networks using specific keywords and links to your website can be helpful when search engines index these pages. Keywords help search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing not only find your website, but they can also find your social media sites.

Social networking sites can act as your agencies brochure. With social media, your audience can easily share your content with their friends and families. Adding easy contact information to your electronic brochures makes it easy to share your information across a large group of people.

Some examples of content insurance agents around the country use their social media networks for include:

- Posting severe weather alerts in your area. Show your clients you care about their well-being. Adding a link to the National Weather Service on your social networking sites can be done in less than 30 seconds!

- Show your sense of humor! Most every industry can find something funny to say. Bringing some personality to the conversation shows your audience that you are a real person.

- Welcome new customers. Most people want to see their name (and perhaps even a smiling picture of themselves) online.

- Have a contest. How about a little cash, gas card or gift card for the people following your social media that provides a new client.

- Post a survey—Surveys are great tools for any business who truly want to know what their customers think about them.

- Share some YouTube safety video content.

- Post a link to a PDF document on your website to create a home inventory.

- Get online customer reviews. Social networks are a great place for your satisfied customers to provide a review.

- Write a recommendation for local businesses. During times of catastrophes, highlight emergency information; provide relevant links to FEMA, Red Cross, local assistance, etc. More than likely during a catastrophe you will be looking for this information anyhow so reposting it on your social networks is a snap.

Bottom line is that social media allows for the insurance agents to show their customers and prospects that they are people with personality who truly care about the business they are in.

What Can I Expect Out Of All This?

The $64,000 question with any marketing efforts; whether it’s a bus stop, billboard, sponsoring the little league team or a yellow page ad—what can I really expect out of becoming involved in social media marketing?

With more and more people today using social media to communicate with their friends and associates, social networking sites are dominating the marketplace and offer insurance businesses immense potential for promotion and networking.

The biggest results social media marketing can provide insurance professionals are:

- Connecting with people beyond your existing clients. Consumers are more cautious about whom they do business with and as a result have turned towards the recommendations of family and friends—many of whom are your existing customers.

- Your customers are looking for you there. There is a growing expectation that businesses will have a social media presence and consumers are actively looking for those presences on social network sites.

- Exclusive access to literally thousands of people—all of whom are connecting to you directly (or indirectly) to learn more about your agency, insurance products and services.

- Gain referrals in a whole new way—People you have no connection with are communicating with people you already have connections with. These people look to obtain referrals and recommendations and after providing a good customer experience, they will not be hesitant to refer new business to your agency.

- Social media sites have now become an effective tool for consumers to get more information, request a quote, or simply to drive additional traffic to your existing web site.

Getting Started ... Next Steps

Hopefully we have given you some good information to mull over. A good place to start is to look at your resources. Most businesses don't have the skills, time, resources or money to handle social media marketing—that’s where we can help.

If you have internal dedicated staff: That can be actively engaged in the areas of social media but are looking for an experienced advisor to provide guidance and direction, we offer a basic social media program where we can provide:

- targeted social media strategy

- content brainstorming and review

- assistance with pitch list creation

- guidance with reporting

- ROI analysis

If you don’t have internal dedicated staff, time, or resources: And are like most businesses that have the same problem, a good option is to outsource your social media management.

Social media management is more than creating a Facebook Fan page, a Twitter account or a LinkedIn Profile and hope the results will be immediate. When you outsource your social media management to e-Merge Online Marketing, we start with establishing your goals and work from there to develop rich content, the right delivery sites and message frequency, become actively engaged in the conversations, monitor your reputation, generate the statistical analysis and reporting to provide maximum success and results.

Anyone can learn the tools. Not everyone has the ability to combine the tools, the education, the experience and the goals of the business to understand that these combined produce optimal results and success.

Dick Fisher of e-Merge Online Marketing is working with Agency Consulting Group to help insurance agents utilize social media strategies as a part of an overall marketing program. For more information about e-Merge Online Marketing, visit www.e-mergemarketing.net, FB: eMergeOnlineMarketing, Twitter: e_mergeonline, email info@e-mergemarketing.net or call (651) 368-8610