Social Networking – Why Isn’t It Working?

In a speech at last week’s Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., the IIABA Chairman, Tom Minkler, told the agents who attended that Generation Y, or the Millennials, who as a group are larger than the Baby Boomers, are “redefining consumerism” by relying on social media and other electronic or digital sources to get information and make their buying decisions.  He thought their approach was also fast becoming the new normal for most consumers.  (Click here for more on Mr. Minkler’s speech.)

Clearly, one of the places to which today’s consumer looks for information about products and services is social media.  Most everyone is familiar with Facebook and Twitter and there is LinkedIn for the more business to business oriented.  To these must be added Google+, which is seeking to combine many of the aspects of the other three.  In a recent post, a social media strategist for Project CAP, Tom Hodson, discussed the four major mistakes that agents are making in their use of social media.  First,  too much time is devoted to talking only about insurance related issues.  He makes the important point that, “Social media sites are not a soapbox to talk about yourself, your business and your knowledge. Rather, they’re a way to connect with people on a human level–to talk with people, not at them.”

Since too much time is being spent talking about insurance issues, not enough time is spent talking about the people who make up the insurance agency, especially the agent.  Agents need to distinguish themselves from the direct writers and captives that want to sell insurance to the same audience.  One way to do that is to let that audience know what kind of person the agent is by talking about what he or she does in the community, local or other events of interest to the agent, and important milestones in his or her life.

Another problem, which is understandable given all the demands on an agent’s time, is that the agent posts on only one social media platform, both to save time and because it’s easier to remember only one method for how to make posts.  The more platforms on which an agent makes posts, the more likely the agent is to be found by a Google or other search by someone interested in the products and services offered by that agent.  Mr. Hodson recommends that agents use four to six social media platforms, with the most important ones being those discussed above.  There are apps that allow a post made on one platform to automatically appear on the other platforms on which the agent has a presence. (Click here to view a post about those apps.)

Finally, Mr. Hodson makes the point that “Effective social networking requires regular posting and interacting.”  He recommends that agents post at least three times a week, every week, and has some suggestions for how that can be done using content aggregator sites, such as Trusted Choice for insurance issues and Mashable for items of general interest.  If you just don’t have the time, IIAG has a service, Agents Go Digital, that will do most, if not all, of the above for you.