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April 25
09:56 2017

TechKnowFile

How agencies can leverage social media to grow their business

As independent agents, we need to connect with new prospects to grow our business, but it can be difficult to grab the attention of tech-obsessed consumers. A simple way we can get noticed and generate leads is by joining the conversation on social media. Building an active social media presence can help agencies forge relationships with new prospects, strengthen existing ties, boost credibility and brand awareness, and garner trust by putting a human face on our business.

How do you start?

Begin by creating Facebook and LinkedIn profile pages for your agency and consider using other popular social networks, particularly Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. It’s important to remember that the point of social media is to generate community and start conversations, not just position your services. Build an audience through engagement, taking care to ask and answer questions.

Then you can leverage these relationships to drive sales.

You can accomplish this by:

  • Making your agency findable on social media, connecting to contacts online and offline, and joining relevant groups
  • Positioning yourself as a trusted thought leader by maintaining a professional profile and sharing content two to three times per week, such as helpful tips related to the products you sell
  • Delivering highly personalized service at scale, keeping in mind that it’s all about reaching out at the right time with the right message

To achieve success in social media, you need to take these steps:

  • Secure executive support for enterprise-wide social media
  • Create a strategic vision of how social media can be integrated organization-wide
  • Obtain commitments for social media resources
  • Create a task force to test new technologies and their business applications
  • Assume a test-and-learn approach

The right content for the right platform

Blog posts on agency websites need to be relevant and fresh, but content shared on social media platforms should mirror the most popular posts shared on personal pages. To that end, the most frequently shared posts on Facebook are those that include photos.

For popular memes, like Throwback Thursdays (#tbt) and #FlashbackFridays, find good-quality photos of yourself or fellow team members, the agency on founding day, and other events that can showcase your agency’s longevity, culture, and role in the community. “On this date in history” facts, cartoons, and other graphics are good to share, as long as they are relatable to the insurance sector. Also consider creating quotes relevant to your business and offerings that can be shared as images for a quick connection with your audience.

Posts that contain images and a fill-in-the-blank feature can ramp up audience engagement and sharing. Also, identify trending news stories and latch on to that coverage with your own angle about insurance products or ways to mitigate risks or improve savings. Polls also work well on Facebook; consider soliciting feedback from potential clients about their favorite vacation spots, clothes, events, and more.

For Twitter, create a hook—perhaps a statistic, for example—and link to a relevant article about it to reel in clients. Ask questions that can be answered in 140 characters or less to increase engagement and build client relationships. Use quotes that are relevant to the news or planned events, and post links to articles that are amusing or educational. Event hashtags should be unique and visible in all posts. Also consider offering quick tips and tricks via tweets to ramp up interest.

Instagram is heavily reliant on photos, so it’s a good social media platform for showcasing your agency’s “behind the scenes” activity. Instagram can be a great place to display the culture of your brand and increase transparency for your audience. The platform also allows short videos, which makes it a good outlet for offering quick how-to tips or addressing relevant current events. If these videos are quirky or engaging, they might also spread on other social media platforms. Like Instagram, Pinterest can help showcase the more intimate culture of the agency, including favorite employee recipes and songs; it also can showcase what inspired the business and offer relevant infographics.

LinkedIn is a platform on which it’s easy to share industry-relevant and expert content, particularly white papers and more in-depth information about the latest industry trends and products. You also can share information about eBooks and other publications, as well as ask questions of other industry professionals. Posting basic questions can get a conversation started and reveal tips and tricks used by other agents.

Consider services like Hootsuite, Buffer, and SocialOomph that can help you schedule your social media content ahead of time, so you can get back to focusing on the business of selling insurance.

Cultivate leads, generate revenue

Twitter offers lead generation cards, which can be sent out as part of specific campaigns or in general to increase the number of newsletter subscribers. The cards include a company image, a 140-character message, and a call-to-action button to engage readers. You can use these cards to capture new clients’ email addresses and target them with specific offers and resources.

Facebook offers similar tools, including the email sign-up button that should be at the top of your Facebook business page. This will help you capture emails or use in other campaigns and programs. Lead Ads is another tool that makes signing up easier for potential clients because once they click on “subscribe,” the app automatically populates the form with information the potential lead has already given Facebook, such as an email and phone number.

Recently LinkedIn offered Lead Accelerator, which let agents generate ad campaigns on a variety of topics. The system circulated ads to prospects based on what they were looking for. Once the lead was generated, agents could provide potential clients product information, white papers, blog posts, resources, and other tools to keep them interested in both the agency’s thought leadership and the services it offered. LinkedIn shut down Lead Accelerator last year and integrated its capabilities into the firm’s campaign management platform.

Another aspect of lead generation is identifying the influencers for your brand or industry on social network platforms and ascertaining how best to amplify the positive things they are saying. This will entail offering incentives to those influencers to ensure that they continue talking positively about the brand. By finding true and genuine endorsements, you can add value to the already occurring conversations by offering related links and comments that can help drive traffic and sales to new promotions, products, and services.

Social media puts consumers at your fingertips, and these suggestions can serve as a foundation for your successful social media strategy.

The author

Amber Bosma, CIC, CISR, is the 2017 chair of Applied Client Network’s board of directors. Bosma is in charge of business operations, accounting, human resources, and IT systems at Prins Insurance in Sanborn, Iowa, and promoter of its Land Improvement Contractors Association insurance program.

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