Tag Archives: social selling

Personal Connections Via Social Media

The insurance industry has historically thrived on face-to-face interactions. A year ago, U.S. life insurance brokers told McKinsey that 90% of their sales conversations and even 70% of their customer follow-ups happened in person. Of course, those numbers plummeted during the pandemic: By May 2020, a follow-up McKinsey survey revealed that in-person interactions had dropped to less than 5%.

To maintain regular interactions with prospects that feel as meaningful and personal as formerly in-person conversations, insurance companies must turn to social media to meet audiences where they’re socializing during the pandemic.

Over the last few years, however, the algorithms that govern organic content’s performance on social media have shifted to make breaking through more difficult for brands. After all, social media platforms exist to make money, and their primary revenue stream is advertising dollars. Insurance companies that used to see engagement simply by posting on their business pages must now begin investing in paid advertising campaigns if they hope to achieve anything resembling earlier organic results.

Unfortunately, this trend is solidifying at a time when most insurance associates — indeed, most people in general — are stretched thin. Life insurance companies are busy handling a significant increase in demand for their services, and property and casualty areas are busy helping customers navigate changes in policies such as low mileage rebates.

Agents simply don’t have the time to focus on marketing themselves right now. In this environment, insurance companies must support them by focusing on social media marketing efforts and examining ways to help agents cut through the noise and foster real, human connections online. These three strategies are excellent places to start.

1. First, equip agents with social selling.

To maximize a paid social strategy, agents need to be engaging with prospects and clients organically on social media first. Enable your agents to practice social selling — which means sharing branded content from their own profiles to their own networks.

A company’s social accounts might offer some brand visibility, but associates have a far greater reach than your brand, and their followers trust their content much more than your company’s content. When agents share helpful information that highlights their expertise, their networks will already begin to see them as trusted resources. This lays a solid foundation for launching a paid campaign with individual agents.

Of course, the last thing any insurance company wants to do is add more demands to their agents’ already full plates. If you want employees to build their social presence organically, you have to make it as easy as possible. Marketing teams can build clear, comprehensive social media policies and train agents on them. Then, they can provide agents with a steady stream of engaging, curated content that aligns with the brand and interests agents’ followers.

See also: Want to See Social Media Genius?

2. Then, tailor social selling with paid advertising.

Paid social should absolutely be a part of your 2021 advertising plans, but you should still incorporate elements of your organic social selling strategy — namely, the agents. Put your individual agents front and center in the ads targeted to the audiences in their respective geographic regions.

Consumers today expect this level of personalization. One report found that 72% of consumers will engage only with marketing messaging that’s tailored to their interests, and Accenture confirmed that most are willing to share the data necessary for a more customized experience.

Ultimately, it’s human nature to seek out person-to-person connections. People trust other people more than companies and brand names. Insurance companies should take every step possible to build, maintain and reinforce the human relationships that were the cornerstone of the industry pre-COVID-19, and getting individual agents in front of the right people on social media is a great way to highlight the human element.

3. Use software to control and expand your efforts.

Insurance companies can no longer rely on mass channels and one-size-fits-all campaigns to establish trust and convert clients. Personalized marketing efforts are increasingly complex, and they’re best handled by marketers with central authority.

As agents deal with the same changes that are rocking the broader industry, they’re relying on marketers to implement complex paid campaigns at the brand, branch and agent levels. That’s a lot for one marketing team to handle, but social media management software exists to make it easier. The right tool can streamline and automate workflows, making sure no ad ever publishes without the correct approvals. This helps ensure each post is compliant and in line with your brand’s style and voice. Software can also allow marketing teams to reach more people on more platforms with simultaneous multiplatform features, allowing campaigns to scale with ease.

With the operational details of executing a social strategy taken care of, marketers can focus more on arming agents with everything they need to create the types of meaningful, human connections that will foster trust and set the stage for strong relationships to come. 

See also: How Social Selling Can Boost Results

The insurance industry upheaval brought on by COVID-19 has necessitated a stark shift in the industry’s approach to advertising. Organizations must strive to build personal relationships and connections from a distance, but a branded organic strategy won’t meet social advertising needs as algorithms evolve. Instead, the insurance companies that pivot to social selling, human content and solutions at scale will rise to the top of the news feed in the coming year.

How Social Selling Can Boost Results

Not that long ago, people didn’t have information at their fingertips, and businesses were successful in using outbound sales and marketing methods such as cold calling and email blasts to close sales.

Today, the buyer’s journey has changed thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and other advancements in technology. Now, 57% of the purchase journey is completed before a customer has contacted a business (according to CEB), and 67% of the buyer’s journey is done digitally (SiriusDecisions).

The rise of social media has encouraged organizations to look into ways that they can use the technology, which has led to the development of social selling. 

What are the benefits that social selling offers? 

1. It appeals to the modern buyer

B2B buyers have 12 to 18 non-human and human interactions along their buyer’s journey (Sirius Decisions), and 68% of buyers prefer to research products and services online (Forrester). It’s essential that you develop and push information and content on social channels that resonate with your target audience and provide the solution to their problems. 

This will enable you to influence their choices and position your business as front of mind. 

2. It allows you to build “real” relationships

How many cold calls do you actually answer, listen to and respond to? 

It’s time for businesses to break down the barriers around selling and get on the same page as their customers. Social selling supports this as, through social media listening tools, you’re able to listen to topics and conversations that are relevant to the insurance and risk management industry.

Added to this, a survey from IBM revealed that only 43% of consumers trust the insurance industry, and the lack of trust in insurance providers has remained above 50% since 2007. Social selling helps you build trust among your audiences by giving you insight into what’s important to your prospects and presenting new opportunities and leads. 

3. Your competitors are already using social selling

71% of all sales professionals are already using social selling tools, so if you aren’t you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage (LinkedIn). A report by ITDS revealed that 100% of insurance firms are active on LinkedIn.

According to a study by Capgemini, 22% of insurance policyholders cite social media conversations and interactions as having the highest impact on their purchasing processes. This ranks above the influence of the advice of friends and family, which only 17% of policyholders indicated as most important.

4. The Mere Exposure Effect 

The Mere Exposure Effect was first spoken about in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. This social phenomenon states that the more a person is exposed to something, the more the person will develop a preference toward that thing over time.

Social media lets businesses tap into this theory through regular and consistent posting and updates. When you’ve created and put into action a dedicated strategy, you can begin to use social media channels to your advantage and ensure that you have messages trickling through all the channels that your audiences use, creating multiple touch points with them.

See also: 7 Business Models of the Future for Insurers  

If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail…

To successfully leverage social selling, you need to optimize your social channels to showcase your expertise. For example, research from LinkedIn revealed that members with a photo receive 21X more profile views and nine times more connection requests compared with those that don’t.

So, what do you need to do to give a positive first impression on your social channels?

Here are my top tips: 

  • Post a professional head and shoulders image of yourself 
  • Write your bio/summary to highlight your expertise and what you do on a professional level
  • Include links to your website and other social channels to encourage visits 
  • Use hashtags that your prospects follow
  • Create lists on Twitter to monitor content from specific accounts 
  • On LinkedIn, include your job title and keywords in your headline, ask for recommendations to boost your credibility and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and begin networking in them 

Social selling best practices

Once your profiles are ready to be rolled out, it’s time to kick off your social selling strategy. 

Dedicate yourself

Start by creating a plan and setting aside time to dedicate yourself to building your social presence. Being present on multiple social channels can be time-consuming, but if you spend 30 minutes every day monitoring your channels, engaging with others and posting content it’ll help ease the pressures and ensure your feeds are always up to date. 

Create and stick to a content plan 

The purpose of a content plan is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging and sustainable content that engages, resonates and attracts your target audience. In today’s social web environment, getting the right message to the right customer at the right time is crucial. To stay front of mind, build rapport and trust and position yourself as an expert, you’ll need to have a solid content plan in place. 

Take advantage of social listening

Create and use social lists and monitoring streams to collate what people are saying about you, your company, your industry and competitors, and identify what questions they’re asking and topics they are talking about. 

Maintain relationships once you’ve created them 

Once you’ve made connections, it’s important to stay engaged with them. So, comment on and like the content that is posted by your prospects. 

Be sure to offer advice and guidance to them and contribute to their conversations in a meaningful way if they ask questions.

Share testimonials 

Success stories from other customers have a lot of weight, and research from Pretty Links suggests 92% of buyers trust recommendations from peers, and 70% trust recommendations from strangers.

By gaining and sharing third-party testimonials, you’ll start to build your credibility with prospects, and it’s more likely that they’ll begin to trust your business.

See also: Business Models, Moats and Startups  

Track engagement 

Tracking metrics such as likes, comments and shares will allow you to identify the types of content that resonates the most with your audience. And, it’ll enable you to determine if your social selling activities are paying off.

Understand when to take your connections offline 

To land a sale, you’ll need to escalate the connection with a prospect by offering a call to continue the conversation offline and on a deeper level. It’s important not to push a call before prospects are ready. 

Research revealed that the dollar value of the opportunities for insurance companies to drive results through social media is over $15 million a month (Marketing Tech).

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.