By Chris Paradiso
MEDIA TODAY IS MUCH MORE
Social media connects, educates and communicates
Media today is much more. Why do I say that? Because it’s not just snapping photos on the beach, or a nice photo of a sunset; sharing regular status updates has become the norm for communication. It’s a part of our everyday life. Whether it’s announcing your newborn baby, an engagement, or venting over everyday frustrations, nearly every social media platform allows you to share your digitally altered life seamlessly.
While traditional support channels hide the client behind the interaction, leaving you with just an email, postcard, handwritten letter or phone number, social media support is a real glimpse into your clients’ lives. Yes, social media can give your agency a fantastic tool that adds transparency and humanity that your clients appreciate. Questions are often answered for all to see, leaving little room for poor responses. The world today loves this transparency.
[S]ocial media can give your agency a fantastic tool that adds transparency and humanity that your clients appreciate.
Some agencies even use Twitter as a client communication tool. You can share and educate your followers with one Tweet or retweet, cutting down on emails, calls, and chats—which is exactly what Millennials want. This is especially useful during service interruptions or outages, or even to introduce your new staff members to the world.
These social channels generate valuable feedback, too. Facebook, Yelp and Google reviews offer valuable client happiness insights and add a level of trust for prospective customers researching your agency. Positive peer reviews are also more likely to land you a sale than any self-marketing you do, so these rating features go a long way in earning online trust.
When you or your agency is present on someone’s (client and/or prospect) social feed, you are more likely to influence their next plan of action. Have your agency create contests and incentives for people to “check in” at your agency. This will drive visibility and engagement. At the very least, your agency will gain some online screen time on people’s social feed and catch someone’s attention. Ideally, this type of online visibility and engagement will encourage repeat business that evolves into a raving fan. We can never have enough raving fans out there.
Increased social engagement means one very important thing: increased retention. The more you can get your followers chiming in or clicking through your posts—whether it’s helpful content, genuine and thoughtful messaging, or simply sharing photos of your staff members coming together to celebrate a birthday—the better your chances of keeping that client. Try spurring discussion on your agency’s page or around a specific post by inviting your followers into the conversation. The topic doesn’t have to be insurance- or service-related but can be something relevant to your agency’s brand.
User commentary can and will shed real light on your agency’s strengths and shortcomings. But please remember to stop and listen to what people say and incorporate the best feedback into your marketing roadmap. Clients will appre-ciate their impact and likely offer moreconstructive criticism down the road, which will only help your agency improve.
Human resources gone social
Agencies no longer are limited only to ads and word of mouth to find the best employees. We are using social media platforms to find and hire great talent and locate agency owners who may be looking to sell. Social sites like LinkedIn let you share job openings and conduct better candidate screening. The social element allows us to add a whole new layer to the traditional interview process. You may “connect” with a potential candidate or prospect before you ever interview them, gaining access to their network, connections, previous jobs, interests, endorsed skills, and a whole lot more. This modern transparency is a far cry from old-school hiring.
Social media has created a whole new world for job-seekers, too. You can apply for positions right through LinkedIn, see how many applications have already been submitted, and check out a company’s Glassdoor reviews for a glimpse into their culture. We agency owners must keep an open mind to all these new ways of connecting with future employees.
While making connections in the good ol’ days meant circling up at a conference and trading business cards or gathering at a Rotary meeting, these days you can gain as much–if not more–sitting in front of your smartphone or at your computer researching people or companies right within social media. It’s never been easier to engage with other professionals and make highly personal connections that flourish and last. You can also tell a lot from people’s profiles, photos, videos, and the content they regularly publish.
LinkedIn is obvious for this purpose because it is a B2B platform, but don’t ignore other social platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Much like walking up to a circle of strangers at a conference and introducing yourself, you can start conversations or join active discussions by Tweeting/tagging other users. Some people say Twitter lacks the “friends-only” vibe of Facebook, as its users typically welcome followers they don’t know personally; the most active often interact daily with people they’ve never met face-to-face. Twitter is a great social tool every agency should be using for networking opportunities.
It’s easy to see what the future might hold with social media. An enormous number of doors have opened for you to create your own personal brand. Be your own time machine—stay up on the latest social trends and anticipate advances to get a head start.
Research what clients are saying about competing brands and let that inform your strategy. Better to learn from another business’s mistakes than make them yourself, and better to celebrate their successes as teaching moments, too.
If used to its full potential, social media can drive success creatively andat little cost to your agency’s marketingbudget. Think of social media the new communication tool. It’s here to stay, so embrace it!
Chris Paradiso is president of Paradiso Financial & Insurance Services, head-quartered in Stafford Springs, CT. His agency won PIA National’s Excellence in Social Media Award in 2013. He also heads up Paradiso Presents, LLC, which provides social media consulting, seminars and workshops to help agencies thrive in the online marketing world. Contact Chris via email at email@example.com.