My post last week was about a presentation made by Steve Anderson on the use of social media by insurance agents and agencies. Since then I have come across some articles on tips for making the most out of the time spent on social media that I would like to pass on to my readers. But before doing so, Mr. Anderson’s presentation also touched on the topic of the use, or more appropriately, the lack of use of technology by agents and agencies to help streamline their business activities. He mentioned that Best Practices agencies spend 1.9% of their annual budget on technology up from 1.5% a few years ago. In that same time period, the profitability of those Best Practices agencies has doubled.
One way that agencies can streamline their business activities is to increase the downloading of insurance policies and other documents from insurance companies. The more such documents are downloaded the less time is spent handling and distributing them. There is an online software program that allows an agency to see up to date information on those insurance companies from which they are currently downloading documents and those companies from which they could be downloading documents but are not. The cost to use this program could be easily made up in greater efficiency through the increased downloading of documents from your agency’s companies.
Another technology mentioned by Mr. Anderson, which he said offers the largest productivity boost for an agency, is the ACORD eDocs system that allows insurance companies to send messages and documents directly to the agency’s management system, which in some cases can be programmed to automatically push those messages or documents to a portal for the affected customer. If your agency does not use this system to communicate with its companies, it should look into doing so.
In planning how your agency will use social media and the other technology now available to it, Mr. Anderson made a comment about the three types of insurance customers that makes a lot of sense to me. He said there are those customers who want to do it themselves, those who want the agent to do it with them, and those who want the agent to do it for them. Ideally, your agency should do what it takes to appeal to all three types of customers, but that may not be possible. If not, decide what type of customer you want to focus on and then direct your social media and other marketing efforts to reaching them.
In a post earlier this year on the Employer Benefit Adviser site, the author suggested that you concentrate on only a few social media tools to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. Mr. Anderson suggested Facebook and LinkedIn, the author choose LinkedIn and Twitter because he was already using them. He also suggested that you share your own experience in your posts, not just repost content from other sources, and that everyone that you meet or have contact with in some other way be made a part of your social media world. Above all, realize that it will take time and consistent effort to make the use of social media beneficial for your agency.
A later post on the Employee Benefit Adviser site offered more technical tips to make the best use of social media. One such tip was to tag the people or companies that may be referred to in your posts, especially if you are saying something good about them. By doing so, your posts may be visible to their followers and if what you said about them was favorable they are likely to share, like, or re-tweet your content, thereby exposing it to more people.