Many insurance agents treat social media marketing like dieting: They know they should do it. About once a year they get motivated to try it (again).
When they don't see results, they're quick to give it up. Without seeing progress, it's right back to the donuts.
But unlike dieting, the results for successful social marketing are harder to define than a number on a scale. If you want to sustain a long-term social strategy, you need to figure out how to tell when you're winning.
Even though 93% of agencies report they have some sort of social marketing effort in place, 64% of them don't measure the return on the investment (ROI) they're receiving from social media. If you aren't considering the full scope of your effort's achievement, you might not see how much benefit you're actually receiving from your strategy.
When evaluating your social media strategy, identify your ROI in the following four areas:
According to the Pew Research Center, three out of four American men and 83% of American women use Facebook. (Photo: iStock)
No. 4: Relationship building
There was a time when agents and brokers kept in touch with their clientele through organic interactions in the community, for example, running into a client at the supermarket. It was the way agents established relationships of trust and how their reputations were cemented in the mind of the community. Now, social interactions happen online — specifically, on social networks.
Your interactions and reputation online are crucial to the success of your prospecting efforts. Forty-eight percent of consumers say they take online reviews into account when considering engaging a new service professional. Once it's out there, the reputation you’re fostering online is difficult to change. Without serious consideration and care, you might be developing a reputation that won't serve you or your business.
The term "social commerce" has emerged to explain the relationship between social media marketing on digital commerce. (Photo: iStock)
No. 3: Brand strengthening
When setting up your social profiles, first identify what values you want to represent, then pick the brand markers (your logo, your colors, your motto and your headshot) that best communicate those values. As you set up your website, your profiles and any additional online assets, make sure you’re presenting a unified front. This is especially important to younger consumers, as 60% of millennials say they expect a consistent brand experience that spans from online to offline communication fronts.
One of the most crucial pages on your website is your “About Us” page. Studies show that this is the most visited page of a site after the home page. Not only does it need to display the members of your team and present their qualifications, but it must also capture a larger picture of the goal toward which your team is working. This goal could be called your unique service proposition, the differentiating factor that sets you apart.
It's important to connect with your prospects and clients online, but it can seem time-consuming and overwhelming. That's why I recommend supplementing your organic efforts with tools that help automate a social strategy. Consumer-facing products like Hootsuite and Buffer are popular for that very reason.
Our company recently released an automated social campaign that can help agents "turn on" their social networking like a faucet. By combining personalized networking efforts with an automated program, an agent can experience the best of both worlds when it comes to social marketing.
Social media and content marketing go hand in hand. (Photo: iStock)
No. 2: Content amplification
Too often, social is used as a bulletin board where new blog posts are tacked up for interested parties to come and find. When Facebook has two billion monthly visitors, yet content reaches only 6% of a page's followers, you need a strategy to help your content stand out and reach the largest number of interested readers as possible.
If you were to take a college communications course, one of the first concepts they would talk about would be the three types of media: owned, earned and paid. Traditionally, owned media refers to the content your brand publishes itself, earned media refers to things said about your brand from other sources, and paid media refers to advertising. Social media covers all three of these.
When you create a post and send it out over social it acts like owned media, but once it's found, consumed and shared by others, it becomes a type of earned media, increasing your reach and amplifying its effect.
When you've produced media that has crossed from owned to earned, you can then amplify it further by boosting posts and creating ads that will reach larger audiences than you could have ever accessed organically.
Identifying which of your owned media most easily translated to earned media is a great indicator of which pieces of content deserve the boost of becoming paid media.
Of course, the holy grail of marketing is generating new leads. (Photo: iStock)
No. 1: New lead generation
Social marketing is a cost-effective way for lead generation. Of all businesses engaging in social marketing, 45% report that it has decreased their lead generation costs and 24% of them say that their revenue has increased specifically from using social media for this purpose.
What's the secret to bringing new leads into your sales funnel through social channels? It's a culmination of the first three metrics. By building relationships, you’ll encourage referrals and attract new prospects through your followers. By strengthening your brand, you’ll attract your ideal clients by speaking to their pain points and demonstrating your expertise on the subjects for which they need guidance. By amplifying your content, you’ll provide value to a larger audience who will then have your brand top of mind when they require your services.
It's important to have a clear path for acquisition when it comes to your social traffic. As you drive prospects from your social channels onto your content hub (your website's resource section or blog), you must have optimized forms and lead magnets to capture prospects’ details and bring them officially into your sales funnel.
Social marketing takes effort. The only way that your agency will sustain its social efforts is to focus on the gains you receive from a well-executed strategy. Without doing so, you might find yourself giving up on your social media marketing faster than a New Year's resolution diet.
Rick Fox is the president of Agency Revolution, a software company that provides an AMS-compatible automated communication platform for insurance agents. He can be reached by sending email to email@example.com.