Social Media Basics: Strategy for Beginners
The cost to your insurance agency of ignoring social media is increasing. The truth is social media is not going to go away. While the specific tools may change, think MySpace, social media is here to stay.
Keep in mind that social media is not a magic pill. It is only a communication channel; it cannot by itself build your insurance agency’s brand or get you new customers. You must have a digital marketing strategy in place that is focused on increasing your presence online and generating leads. Social media will play a role in this plan as the engagement and value that comes from social media is an important part of marketing to today’s consumer.
Before jumping into social media, you need to think through your strategy. Lucky for you I’ve put together this easy process to help you get started.
Define and find your target audience
If you want to get involved with more than one social network, you will need to define your target audience for each network. For example, you may decide your primary target audience on LinkedIn is your business contacts while the target audience on Facebook is your current customers. Whether you are doing it for one network or multiple, defining your target audience will direct you as you build your following on social media.
If customers are your target audience, the easiest way to get them to like or follow you on social media is to ask. When you talk to customers on the phone, or they stop by your office, tell them where to find you on social media and ask them to follow you. Also, put buttons on your website so visitors that are browsing your site can visit your social media profiles and follow you. Another easy way to let your customers know about your social media presence is email. Social media buttons in your newsletters and marketing emails is one option, but you could also send an email asking your customers and prospects to follow you. Just remember to tell them why they should follow you.
As with any marketing strategy, you need to define what social media success is for your insurance agency. Is it a certain number of followers? Is it having your content retweeted or shared by your followers? Is it getting comments or replies? Whatever success is to you, it is important to set those goals before you get started. I don’t recommend making your goal to get new leads or new customers from social media. Yes, it can be done, but it takes a lot of time and focusing solely on social media to get to that point. Start with small goals and make them bigger as you become more comfortable with social media.
Share content of value
How often you should post to social media depends on the networks you chose. For Facebook and LinkedIn, once a day is perfectly okay. For Twitter, you should be posting at minimum three times a day. Don’t make all of your posts about you. Consumers are extremely resistant to the hard sell nowadays, especially on social media. Either find valuable content to share or create your own by blogging. Mix up your content. Everything link you share doesn’t have to be insurance related. Community events, current news or seasonal tips like driving in snow or backyard bbq safety make great social media posts. Also, share a little bit about you. You don’t have to share everything just something so your followers get to know you better. Insurance is an intangible, which makes the old adage people do business with people they like more accurate. Help your followers get to know you.
Engage, engage, engage
What has made social media so important to business and why it is not going anywhere is that it has opened up two-way communication between consumers and businesses that didn’t exist before. This means engaging with your followers is key. When someone comments on a Facebook post, acknowledge it. When a Twitter follower retweets you or shares a link to your blog, thank them. Follow people and reply to their posts, especially if they ask a question you can answer. This step requires you to be actively listening and participating in social media. But with just 15 minutes in the morning and maybe another 15 minutes in the afternoon, your followers will know that you’re on social media to engage and have conversations, not just to market to them.
About the Author
Laird Rixford, vice president of product development at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), currently consults agencies nationwide on their online marketing initiatives. Laird and the Insurance Website Builder team have launched more than 2,000 insurance agency websites nationwide. In addition to Insurance Website Builder, Laird has designed the AgencyBuzz drip email marketing and lead management solution exclusively for the insurance industry. To learn more about ITC and its products and services for insurance agents, visit www.GetITC.com.