Tag Archives: social marketing

4 Myths on Social Marketing and Selling

Everywhere you look, marketers and companies are promoting the merits of “social marketing” and “social selling” for insurance producers, and there is certainly value to be derived from content marketing and from increasing brand awareness. But social marketing and social selling don’t lend themselves to insurance.

There are four myths about social media that an insurance producer has to account for to reach his ideal target client and reach his sales goals.

Myth #1. Social media marketing is useful in and of itself.

Yes, it’s inarguable that you need to have a quality LinkedIn and Facebook presence, but that is only a “backstop activity” that allows someone to check you out after meeting you … by some other means. As one blogger recently wrote, LinkedIn is a place for “hunters and the hunted.” Most people don’t go out to a place like LinkedIn (or Facebook) to find or to shop for an insurance provider. All the carriers and brands are on those sites, shouting positioning messages and trying to get noticed, but more than 75% of LinkedIn users go to that site just once a month, or even less often.

So, don’t expect that people will find you on social media and that you’ll be distinguishable.

See also: 4 Marketing Lessons for Insurtechs  

Myth #2. Content is king.

Publishing good content makes a lot of sense as it can add authority and credibility about who you are. But throwing content alone into your social stream is like casting a big net onto the waters hoping to catch someone swimming by. When you push content out broadly to your networks and your contacts, you’re expanding your reach but are still just hoping that someone will swim into that net and want to have a further “discovery” conversation.

How’s that working for you now?

Myth #3. I can get noticed by being active in the social marketing stream.

Don’t fool yourself. Ask the question: Who is my ideal target client, and how noisy is that person’s world? With all of the messaging coming at us all every single day, how can you expect to get enough mindshare to stimulate a response from whomever you’re targeting? We’re all inundated and have created barriers so that only those people we already trust are let in to our worlds.

The walls are only going to get higher, and social marketing will become even less effective.

Myth #4. Mass promotion using social marketing tactics fits my audience and will fill my sales funnel.

Wait! Just stop and ask yourself: Why do people now choose you as their insurance professional? Then ask: How many leads do I get now from my social media sites?

At the top of the list as to why people choose you will be reasons like trust, relationship and your proven competence. But how can a prospective new client get to learn about you and your character and competence without you focusing on building a highly engaged relationship?

If I glance at your social media pages, I can do it quickly and privately. You won’t even know, and then I’ll be gone. You can’t build trust with these drive-by lookers.

You need to focus first on building connections that really make the walls come down or the doors open, and no amount of mass or social marketing can make up for your investing a part of yourself into the personal relationship. You’re in a market where people and relationships matter the most, so this is where your focus should be.

Mass “social” tools are actually un-social and are a poor substitute for building a true one-to-one connection.

The Right Approach

In my firm, Refer.com, we know how valuable a focused, personalized, relationship-marketing approach can be for insurance producers. We have seen how, in less than six weeks, a producer can gain eight to 10 new clients and can generate referred sales opportunities each and every month thereafter.

We urge our clients to build their quality LinkedIn and Facebook pages and gather their great content to provide to the connections that they’re making but to focus on building highly engaged, one-on-one relationships with a small group of people. This includes clients, other professionals, connectors and influencers in your marketplace. Then, initiating a continuing, “high-touch,” personal connecting plan enabled by a sophisticated app will turn those key people into focused sources of introductions and new-client referrals.

See also: How to Capture Data Using Social Media  

You’ll quickly set yourself apart from others in your area who are undisciplined and unfocused while you’ve built a team of committed partners working together to help you grow.

My next article will present the reasons why this approach is guaranteed to change the direction of your business and fill your prospect pipeline with high-quality opportunities. And then we’ll show you, step by step, exactly how you can easily make this work for you.

2015: The Year ‘Social’ Breaks Out of the Silo

Last December, I predicted social business would grow up this year, with real use cases and measurable return on investment (ROI) emerging across the enterprise. Looking back at the last 12 months, I’d say we’re right on track.

From Southwest Airlines to Asos, customer engagement has already been transformed by Twitter. Representatives not only respond to customer complaints and inquiries at breakneck speeds but share content that shows off the company’s unique style and culture. Retailers from Burberry to Starbucks (where I’m proud to serve on the board) not only shine through creative campaigns and audience engagement but have also made cutting-edge social- and mobile-enabled technology their core business.

Above: Starbucks’ Tweet A Coffee campaign on Twitter.

Below: Burberry connecting with its audience on Instagram.

Even in financial services, an industry sometimes perceived as slow and sluggish because of the regulatory environment, the world’s largest banks, insurers and financial firms are “getting social.” At Hearsay Social, we now support more than 100,000 financial professionals, allowing them to meaningfully connect with clients and prospects across multiple social networks and devices.

Whether it’s improved responsiveness to customer complaints, greater audience reach, more instantaneous market insight or the opportunity to connect with a new lead, compelling business cases now abound on social media.

In most organizations, however, social media still sits in a silo by itself. And some companies are still investing in social just to say they are social. Therefore, my big idea for 2015 is that social media will cease to exist as an individual silo, but instead will become integrated into standard business practice.

With the initial business case proven, it is time for the C-suite as well as functional leaders to institutionalize social as a core part of how business is done every day. Here’s how:

Define a customer-centered vision for transformation

We like to think we’ve come so far, but change comes from the top. And how much can be said when, in 2014, two in three CEOs still have no social presence on any major social network whatsoever? (Source: 2014 Social CEO Report, CEO.com.) Of those CEOs who do use social media, two in three are only on one platform. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the only Fortune 500 CEO on every major social network is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is arguably the best-equipped to understand the power of social.

We need to change this next year. If you truly want to create a customer-centered organization — that is, a company dedicated to long-term success amid seismic shifts in consumer expectations and behavior — then executives at the top must articulate why the transformation needs to take place. The first step toward articulating this is leading by example: CEOs, functional and line-of-business heads and first-line managers all need to be practicing what they preach so that they are not only more credible but are also better-equipped to lead and influence from within their organizations.

Create a new methodology, process, and metrics

It’s no longer acceptable to be doing social media for the sake of doing it. Have a plan in place, no matter how simple. Document your plan and intended goals, train employees and managers on it, drive success by checking in regularly and, of course, measure people on it.

Our customer success team at Hearsay Social, for example, has developed a four-step methodology for financial firms and their advisers who may initially feel overwhelmed when approaching social: First, establish a presence, which can be measured simply by seeing who has online social profiles. Second, grow your network by connecting with colleagues and clients where appropriate — yet another step that can be easily measured. Next, listen to your network for opportunities that could help you grow your business. Finally, share content and thought leadership to continually stay top-of-mind with your audience.

Four steps to successful social business: Establish a presence, grow your network, listen to your network (“Hear”) and share content (“Say”).

Having a methodology, process and metrics in place for the social program helps institutionalize social as part of a company’s DNA and standard operating procedure while ensuring repeatability and scale as the company brings on new employees.

Cut and consolidate

Regardless of the organization, resources are never unlimited. Employees can only get so much done in a day, and there’s only so much cash flowing to fuel projects.

With that in mind, even the largest companies in the world must start thinking like start-ups by adopting a mentality of ruthless focus. In other words, you need to decide what you’re not going to do to make room for social.

For example, many of the insurance agencies we power on social media have decided to stop advertising on park benches and in the Yellow Pages. Instead, they are using their funds to buy promoted posts on Facebook. Another company, a financial services firm, which previously provided two separate training programs for “inter-generational wealth transfer” and “social media,” realized that there was actually an opportunity to combine the two because social media should be core to any effort to appeal to future generations of heirs.

Let your people teach and inspire one another

The first three steps are all top-down, but equally important, if not more so, is the groundswell of employee engagement and feeling of ownership. Companies more than ever need to have bottoms-up evangelism and peer-to-peer sharing to succeed in the digital era.

As partners of our client companies, we regularly attend national conferences hosted by our client organizations that bring together advisers across the country to share ideas about how they do business today. Time and time again, we hear anecdotes of social-savvy advisers sharing their success stories and ROI proof points, which serve to sway even the most skeptical advisers to become social media believers and practitioners. In the end, though executive buy-in is crucial, peer-to-peer evangelism will be much more credible than corporate departments pushing their initiatives down. You need both.

Expect continual iteration

To succeed as a company in 2015 and beyond, it is imperative to accept that change is ubiquitous and accelerating. There’s new tech coming out every day — from mobile payments to virtual reality, connected cars and homes to the Internet of Everything — destined to challenge and upend every established sector. In turn, each of these disruptions will cause even newer technologies like social media to evolve, and there will always be new use cases. Perhaps your company may pave the way to the next innovation in social media case studies.

In 2015, social will be disrupted by going mainstream across the enterprise. Soon, we will no longer call it out separately. Social as a silo is going away. A decade ago, we spent a lot of breath talking about “online” experiences, but today we assume every customer is always online. Social will be the same.