Let’s address the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

The social media marketing ROI question.

The “If I get on Twitter and Facebook, how much revenue will I make?”  question. The question far too many independent insurance agencies are using for not allocating resources to social media marketing.

Let’s do this… we can’t move forward without being open, honest and transparent.

Social media marketing is NOT a sales tool.

At least not in the traditional sense we insurance agents like to hang our hat on.

No One Buys Insurance on Social Media

Social media marketing is an audience-building tool.

We cannot expect to make direct sales out of social media. That doesn’t mean we won’t make sales, we just can’t expect to make them directly.

Direct sales is not the purpose of social media marketing. If we try to use it as such, our results (total revenue produced from online marketing activities) diminish.

Listen to the wise words of the content marketing sage Jay Baer, CEO of Convince and Convert:

What is my agency supposed to do with an audience?

At face value, the concept of engaging in social media marketing without the expectation of sales seems ridiculous. I get it. I was an agent for eight years. We only have so much time in the day, and doing things that don’t produce immediate results will never be a priority.

Unfortunately, the consumers we serve are beginning to dictate a new way of doing business.

What offline marketing activity yields immediate results?

Cold calling? Radio ads? Asking for referrals?

All of these activities have a sales cycle. The only difference between the prospects we add to our pipeline through traditional offline marketing activities and the audience we build via social media marketing, is vernacular.

We call group prospects, the other audience, when in reality these individuals and businesses are the same thing.

We use social media marketing to build an audience because it’s from that audience that we will eventually pull leads and sales.

Social media is not a direct sales tool, but it’s an incredibly powerful indirect sales tool.

Just as producers have filled their sales pipeline for over a century, they now must also be working to build an audience online. This is how we capture the Connected Generation consumer.

Building an audience online is the process of filling our digital sales pipeline.

How to Start Building an Audience Online

At a high level, there are three steps to building an online audience for your insurance agency:

1) Determine your target audience.

In the social media world, the shotgun approach to marketing does not work. Social media marketing consumes enough time, energy and resources, if you know exactly who you want to go after. It’s a a complete waste of time if you’re implementing the spray and pray method.

Spend 30 minutes thinking about the type of business you want to write, what those individuals or businesses are interested in, and where they can be found.

2) Choose one or two networks

A common pitfall of insurance agencies looking to gain traction of social media is the “Be everywhere” strategy. Agents feel like they need to be on every social media platform in order to capture the maximum amount of attention and new leads.

Pick only one or two social networks (the networks most populated by the target audience you determined in step #1) and spend your time becoming well-known there for your insurance work.

 3) Consistently tell your story

Telling your story means sharing updates, thoughts, advice and information on your company, clients and community. I call this the 3 C’s of Storytelling. In order to build an audience online which will eventually turn into revenue, you’re going to have to share something with a little more depth than a list of the products you sell.

Share updates about your agency in the form which fits the story you want to tell as often as you can.

Conclusion

Telling your story on targeted social networks to the specific audience you want to serve builds an activated audience that will want to buy from you.

It won’t happen immediately. Building an audience on social media takes time.

But if you do it, over time you’ll create an endless stream of personal and commercial lines leads that will grow your agency.

Thank you and good luck,

Ryan Hanley

Your Turn

How do you use social media in your agency? Are you able to capture direct sales from social media? Where do you see the future of social media in your agency?

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