If you're not on Instagram, perhaps it's time you downloaded the app and joined the other 500 million daily users? That's right. And overall, according to Instagram, there are 1 billion monthly users on the digital image and video platform. If that doesn't make you scratch your head and say "Where have I been?" maybe this will: over 50 billion photos have been shared since the platform launched in 2010. Brands are engaging with customers and clients on a daily basis, and that leads to more sales.
What should I share?
Instagram is where brands come alive with content. What do you share? That's easy! Pictures you've taken or curated, re-share customer content, videos, memes, quotes, there is no end to the types of content you can share. But keep in mind, you're promoting your brand, so think before uploading and pushing "Share".
Where and How do I share?
There are several ways to share content on Instagram. On your profile or via Instagram Stories or IGTV. If you share content on your profile, people who follow you or those who follow the hashtags you use, will see your content in their feed. This is a place to showcase your brand and let viewers see what you offer. Be creative, have fun and let your personality shine.
What are Instagram stories? Just like facebook, you can share content that only remains active for 24 hours. Haven't used Stories on facebook before? What are you waiting for? And you can cross-share on both platforms. Story content is typically content that you want to share that doesn't require a long shelf life. However, you can also promote content you've shared on your profile by sharing it to your stories as well. You can re-share content you see in your feed, and you can re-share content from other stories (if they're public and allow their content to be shared).
Should I be Public or Private?
Business accounts are public. If you have a personal account, you can choose to make it public or keep it private for just your inner crowd.
What is IGTV?
IGTV is also a standalone app that allows you to upload videos of up to an hour in length. It's similar to YouTube. However, it's also integrated within Instagram. Short videos that are 3-60 seconds in length can be shared on your profile or in your story. If you share a video longer than that length it will automatically be uploaded to IGTV. The amount of exposure you can get from sharing on both your profile and in your story and with IGTV will help you grow your agency (brand).
To hashtag or not to hashtag?
Once you establish what and where you're going to share your content, be sure to incorporate hashtags and tag relevant people or brands in your content. This helps broaden your exposure. Hashtags are a way to find content and many users follow hashtags as well as accounts. Consider coining your own personal hashtag.
Tagging accounts is different from hashtags. When you tag someone, you're mentioning them. It's just like when you mention or tag someone on facebook.
Don't forget to add locations to your posts and stories as well. You'll get more eyes on your content that way. And viewers in certain geographic areas will be able to see your content if you add your location to your story.
How do I know how my posts are doing?
Insights. When you set yourself up with a business Instagram profile, you'll get access to all types of analytics to see how your content is performing, who is viewing it and the activity it's getting. This helps you tweak your content and your posting times. And speaking of posting times, now would be a good time to take advantage of scheduling platforms like Buffer, Hootsuite, Later or SproutSocial to schedule out your content.
Once you've figure out the what and the where to post your content on Instagram, you now have to focus on the when. Yes, the when. There are preferred times to schedule out your content for maximum exposure. According to HubSpot, these are the best times to share on Instagram:
The heatmap below provided by SproutSocial indicates highest engagement times.
Should I Promote My Posts?
Promoting your posts (paid content) will get you even more exposure, and it's a good idea to think about carving out a little budget to promote certain posts that are important or that do well with likes and engagement. Again, you can promote your content on both facebook and Instagram which will give you twice the exposure.
Overall, sharing content on Instagram is yet another way to promote yourself and to get exposure. It's a free app and your posts can all be free, so why not take advantage of it?
How many times have you said to yourself "How do I get more leads without paying for them?" It's the never ending question that plagues insurance agents. You want your business to grow and don't know how to get more clients calling you. The reality is, if you're servicing your existing clients properly, they will do the marketing for you. Calling, mailing, emailing and even door knocking (yes some agents still do this) are all forms of outbound marketing. It's time to review your strategy.
How will your existing clients market for you, you ask? It's a process of nurturing them and educating them. Keep in touch with them, inform them of new products and services you offer. In essence, be their teacher. And what does this do for you? It lets your clients know that you're keeping abreast of market trends and products. You're coming to them with the latest in industry news and solutions. Bringing your A game to the table resonates with clients.
Word of mouth and influencers are two forms of marketing. But the reality is, they're both the same. Influencers typically work online and via social media. Word of mouth extends into the digital space and offline as well. If you take care of your clients, they become your influencers and spread the word that you are THE agent to work with.
Building your brand and your credibility comes from within. If you exemplify professionalism, integrity and wisdom, your clients will talk about you.
Another key component to this, is to focus on additional sales with your existing client base. Offering one type of insurance can be limiting, so if you feel you can take on new products, by all means do it! You don't have to offer every insurance product known to man; however, if you can assist your clients with an array of solutions, you'll have your own, private army doing your marketing for you.
Referral marketing is big in this industry and everyone asks for referrals. If your clients talk about you, they'll send referrals without you ever having to ask for them. They're doing the marketing work for you.
Incorporate inbound marketing with your outbound marketing strategy to allow your client base to grow. That means sending them informative pieces, and it doesn't have to be solely insurance-based. Including articles about retirement, nursing homes, social security and even protecting them from identity theft are all ways to enlighten your clients. The more you focus on attention and sales within your existing client base, the more you'll get in return.
It's crucial to stand out above the rest, and if you're sending your clients elsewhere to research Medicare or Life insurance or any other senior healthcare product, you're doing yourself a disservice.
You're the expert and you need to let your clients know why they should choose you. Marketing yourself and your services is vital to growing your business. If your tell clients to go to another website to research Medicare, the likelihood of them buying a Medicare Supplement from you is nil. After all, why should they? You didn't explain their options to them. They had to research for themselves and it's quite likely they will either A) buy from another insurance agent who will help them with their choices or B) buy direct from the carrier. If you're going to make them read up on Medicare or any other insurance topic that you're knowledgeable about, at least send them to YOUR website.
In order to market yourself, you need to let your clients know why they should choose YOU. What do you bring to the table that another insurance agent doesn't? What makes you so special? Your clients and prospects are online researching insurance agents and products, just as they're researching doctors, restaurants and real estate agents. And with that being said, having an online presence is paramount. Make sure your face-to-face presence is in alignment with your online presence.
Having a website is an expense I can't really afford.
You can't afford a website you say? Well let me tell you, NOT having a website is an expense you can't afford. You already know your clients are online doing research on an array of topics. If you don't have a website or even a micro site you're just losing out on potential clients. Websites don't have to be complex and expensive. They don't have to be chock full of bells and whistles. They DO, however, need to be current, informative and user-friendly. Your clients and potential clients need a way to research you and your expertise online. If you don't have that available for them, it lessens your credibility. You hand out business cards and brochures, right? Your website is your online business card and brochure. It's yet one more way to promote yourself. Your competition down the street has one, you can count on that.
Your website may not generate thousands of leads for you, but what it will do is increase your chances of being found more easily. And? It will demonstrate to your clients that you're on top of your game. When your clients can go to your website and read up on the services you provide, just as they would if you mailed them a brochure, they are more likely to refer your site to someone else who needs your services. How easy is it to send a link in an email? VERY.
Where do I start? Who do I hire to build my website?
We have a myriad of solutions to help you with getting your presence online. Be it with a full-blown website, a micro site, or simply claiming your business on Google and building a free site with Google's tools. Don't let the internet intimidate you from realizing your potential. Think of it as a giant encyclopedia, and you need to grab your page in it. You'll be glad you did. And so will your clients past, present and future.
It's a new year, and with that comes new opportunities. Creating a solid marketing plan and sticking to it will not only grow your business, but will give you structure and organization. Running your own business and working on commission has its risks and rewards, but with planning and utilizing all of the tools and resources available to you, you're guaranteed to succeed.
You can't continue to grow if you continue to do what you've always done.
Which of the following marketing tips have you already implemented this year? Which do you need to do?
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.