Social media can be a rewarding place for insurance agencies – it provides a platform to build relationships with customers and prospects and, ultimately, grow revenue. The benefits have never been greater. In fact, a recent study from Sprout Social indicates that, after consumers follow a brand on social media, 91% will visit its website or app, 89% will make a purchase from the brand and 85% will recommend the brand to a family member or friend.
But social media can also be an unforgiving place. Over the last year, we’ve seen an uptick in social media fails as businesses tried to join conversations about trending headlines and serious issues – from pandemic developments and racial justice to election validity – sometimes causing irreparable reputation damage and business impact.
As consumers increasingly turn to social media to inform decision-making, it’s critical for agency owners to build their social media skills to navigate the risks and reap the rewards. Here are six tips to get you started:
1. Establish the ground rules.
Creating general social media guidelines for your agency will help you make faster and smarter decisions in any situation. The guidelines can be as simple as a one-page document that outlines:
- Your social media objectives
- Your target social media audience
- Your social media “voice”
- Topics you will/will not address on your channels
- Frequency of posting
- Engagement approach
- Who has access to post on your social media accounts
- When and when not to respond to conversations
These guidelines can and should evolve along with your agency. Revisit them regularly to ensure they still complement your overall business strategy.
2. Be a good listener.
While you shouldn’t make posting decisions based on what everyone else is doing, you also shouldn’t make decisions in a vacuum. It’s important to truly understand a trending situation as well as the mood on social media and in traditional media before making a decision about whether to post.
As you evaluate the situation, look at the conversation that’s already happening. Are other agencies jumping in? If so, what’s driving that? How are people responding to that content? Are the media stories about agency response positive or negative? Are your customers and prospects joining the conversation? Are they asking you to join? Why? Understanding the landscape can help make a decision that feels right for your business and the moment.
See also: Personal Connections Via Social Media
3. Walk the walk.
When the racial and social justice movement gained momentum last summer, businesses were eager to show their support on social media. Those with a track record for actively discussing and addressing these issues were greeted with positive feedback. Those that issued hollow statements about support and solidarity without action were savaged. For example, Ben and Jerry’s statements were viewed as appropriate because the brand and its founders have a long history of social activism, while the NFL’s statement that included the phrase “we need urgent action” was blasted.
4. Pause when appropriate.
Sometimes, you just need to hold off on any kind of social media posting – either because everyone’s attention is elsewhere or out of respect for the situation at hand. For example, many insurance agencies we work with paused on posting around the presidential election because that event dominated the social media conversation. And we’ve advised them to pause during moments of national and world crisis because of the gravity of those situations. Continuing to post promotional content at these moments can imply your agency is disconnected from the world around you – or simply doesn’t care. Pay attention to what is happening in the world and pause posting during times of crisis.
5. Engage with care.
Treat the content you like and share with the same care you treat your own social media content. Before you deem something worthy of engagement, review it carefully. Verify the content’s accuracy, check for hot-button language, know your source and review the current comments to avoid an inadvertent issue. For example, a controversial news figure might post something completely neutral on Twitter that you think is relevant to your customers. However, your customers might view a retweet of that post as an endorsement of the controversial figure.
6. Live the brand.
As an agency owner, you are the brand, and anything you post on your social media accounts becomes a reflection of that brand. In a recent New York Times story, journalist and digital communication expert Sree Sreenivasan summed it up well: “The fact is that it’s impossible to separate the personal use of social from the professional, and everything you say online can and will be used against you. There are ways in which you can try to safeguard your privacy and control who sees particular content, but the onus is on you to be vigilant. So, the more seriously you can take your social media activities, the better.” You can mitigate your risks by embracing the same social media guidelines for your business and personal accounts.
Every day on social media, agencies of all sizes are judged by what they say and what they don’t say. Understanding the risks that come with a social media presence – and how to mitigate them – is just as important as understanding how to use these platforms to connect with customers.