The first step in creating a digital footprint is to start off slowly, and in increments. Trying to be all over the web in one fell swoop is completely unrealistic. There are too many places to be, and it takes time to be where you want to be, and offer content that is of value.
Having worked in Sales for Lactalis Group and Apple Inc., and currently working in Marketing and Social Media Marketing, it takes time to build up a digital presence. And not all digital spaces are created equal. By implementing a digital strategy in 2018, you can help bolster your sales and broaden your network, but you must be open-minded and be ready to roll up your sleeves and do some work.
Some of the biggest misconceptions about social media is that people assume they will suddenly have clients knocking on their door the minute they create their social media platforms, and start pushing content. STOP right there. It does NOT happen overnight. It takes time to grow followers. It takes time to cultivate a community. It takes effort to deliver meaningful content. And it takes time to engage with your followers.
There are two ways to share content on social media platforms:
We haven't talked about websites and why you should or should not have one. Having a website is paramount if you're an established agent with a solid book of business and a client base that needs to find you online and your resources 24/7. If you're a new agent just looking to get established, then I have a suggestion for you. Hold off on the expense of building a website and start off slowly (again). Begin by building a business facebook page where you share (primarily) industry-related content. Sharing your story and how you came to be and personalizing your page DOES provide value, but be mindful of how much you share about your personal life. A business page is exactly that. A page for your business.
LinkedIn is another must when you're starting off. It's essential to have a LinkedIn profile because that's where industry leaders, colleagues and consumers hang out. Again, start off slowly. Build your profile and take time to craft your work history, education, accomplishments and awards to include all pertinent information about your career. And please? Don't forget to use a professional looking photo of yourself for your avatar. Being online is about connecting with others. People like to see what others look like when they're networking. Nothing screams "INCOMPLETE PROFILE" like a LinkedIn page with no picture of the person. Be professional and have someone take a well-lit picture of you if you're uncomfortable taking a selfie. You don't need to incur the expense of a professional photographer.
If you've started off slowly and now want to move on to additional platforms, then start with one you feel most comfortable with. In November Twitter lengthened the amount of characters you have to tweet with. The old 140 character limit is no longer in effect, and you now have a whopping 280 characters to play with. Instagram and Snapchat are very brand-oriented when it comes to social sharing. These platforms are more about sharing your story. These are platforms where you can share more of your personal life in combination with industry information.
If any of this sounds like I'm speaking a foreign language, or if you understand some of it, but need a little 101 on it, I'm available to help you. Everyone makes New Year resolutions and sadly many fall by the way side. Embracing technology and expanding your digital footprint on the world is beneficial for you and your business. Whether it be by launching a new website (we have referrals for you for agency websites), building your facebook business page, composing your first tweet, sending you first mass email campaign, or submitting your first electronic application, we're here to guide you and give you assistance.
Technology does not have to be challenging. Nor does it have to be a nuisance. Technology is here to assist you, and help you grow. If you're serious about expanding your digital footprint and want to take the next steps to build your online presence, reach out to me directly at 800.928.4998 ext. 8 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll share some of my tips for finding news-worthy industry content. I'll give you examples of insurance agents who are killing it with their websites and social media content. I'll give you my best practices for scheduling out content. And lastly? I'll be here to show you the ropes and how to navigate the digital waters. So grab your life jacket, and give me a shout or shoot me an email.
If you’re looking for ways to find new clients in 2017, hopefully you have a game plan already put into place. And if not? Have you considered these options?
Do you have a website? If not, are you building one for 2017?
Creating a website does not have to be daunting and expensive. Just having a landing page with your contact information can often times be enough initially. There are so many options for creating a web presence. It’s endless and you can have one in a matter of hours. WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix are all options that allow customers to build sites on their own without hiring a web designer. IXN Tech is a company we personally recommend for building insurance websites.
Do you have a Facebook page at the very least?
Not your personal Facebook profile, but an actual business page to let the world know you’re online, where they can come to your page and find relevant industry news, updates and contact information. Building a Facebook page is something everyone should absolutely do, and it can be accomplished in a matter of minutes. If you have a personal online presence, then it only makes sense to have one for your business and your brand as well.
Have you run ads on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter?
If you’ve never thought about running a Facebook ad or an ad on LinkedIn to find potential clients, what are you waiting for? You can run ads and target specific demographics to alert your potential client base that you’re on social media, and you’re keeping up with the times (and looking to grow your business). Both sites, as well as Twitter, have step-by-step directions on how to go about running an ad. You decide your budget and you decide how long you want your ads to run.
Take the time to research your advertising options on the social networks mentioned, and build that Facebook page today. In a matter of minutes you can have an online presence and you can use your personal contacts and existing clients to help spread the word about your business profile. No one will know you’re out there, if you don’t tell them.
If you don’t have an online presence, you’re missing out on an enormous opportunity. More and more small businesses are understanding the need for a digital presence, and although it may seem overwhelming and overly crowded out there on the Interweb, it’s absolutely necessary for your business to expand.
Did you know the fastest way to get a response from a large company is by tweeting? Sending a tweet to large companies like AT&T (@ATT) or Time Warner (@TWC) will get you answers about your service and plans within minutes. These companies have dedicated Twitter accounts just to address customer concerns. You can tweet at their main handle and their customer service handle (@ATTCares)(@TWC_Help) will take over. They will typically request that you send them a direct message, and within minutes you will get your issues resolved by one of their dedicated community managers who can gain access to your account.
Most healthcare companies are on all social media platforms and they also hire community managers to interact and monitor their social media engagement. Some of these carriers have additional Twitter handles just to address customers’ questions and to provide support as well. It’s a growing trend and one that is quickly being adapted by more and more companies and carriers across the board. It’s similar to chatting with a live representative, only faster due to no hold times.
United Healthcare (@myUHC) has a dedicated Twitter handle just for customer questions and concerns ( @AskUHC). Jumping online and sending a tweet to get an issue resolved can potentially be faster than if your client were to sit on hold waiting for a customer service representative in many cases.
Aetna (@Aetna) has also set up a Twitter account just for their customers’ questions and concerns. If your clients have policies with Aetna, they can tweet their question to (@AetnaHelp), and receive immediate attention.
It’s important to emphasize, however, that one should NEVER tweet personal information, such as policy numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers, etc. because tweets are public. Direct messages are private between the tweeter and the community manager.
Some carriers have not on-boarded this policy and customers will continue to have to go through regular channels to have their issues or concerns addressed, but for the carriers that have adopted this form of communication, mention it to your clients. It can save them time and possibly aggravation.
Carriers are continuously adding new practices to assist their clients and to expedite resolution for issues and claims. As a knowledgeable and dedicated agent, it’s important to keep your clients abreast of changes, rate increases/decreases and enhancements when it comes to their insurance policies. And as such, it’s also important to let them know there are numerous ways to have their questions and concerns addressed.
Inform your clients about using social media to gain access to information, news and additional ways to access customer service, if they’re not already doing so. They’ll appreciate the tip.
By Carolyn Portanova
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.