Last week I hosted a webinar full of leading industry voices. From American National, Christy Morgan, a digital marketing specialist, and Matthew Daley, an agency owner, joined us to talk about how they’re using social media to drive real revenue. Jim Kerley, Chief Membership Officer, at LIMRA also joined us to give us a broader industry perspective. Our discussion touched on everything from how the client journey has changed, to creating engagement to tracking ROI.
For those of you that prefer the written word to sitting through a webinar, here are the highlights.
The Client-Advisor Journey has Changed Significantly with Digital Channels
Many of you may remember the “pre-Google” days, where nothing was digital. Jim shared a ‘back in the olden days’ story about how agents actually read a newspaper to find out about important life events – birth and death announcements, who got hired and fired – and then sent a physical letter, followed up with a phone call to get a meeting, there was phone back and forth until the prospect had all of the information they needed, until finally a contract was signed. This took a LOT of time.
Matt then contrasted today’s “post-Google era,” noting that customers are more educated than ever before. He noted that people are no longer looking to TV and newspapers, but social media for answers. By the time people reach out to Matt, or he’s given their name to contact, they are already well into researching the product/service they want. Matt said, “What we try to do using Hearsay Social is make that beginning of the process of them getting to know me, on my terms…We attempt to provide value to them before we ever speak to them. What I’m trying to create is being [on LinkedIn, Google, Facebook] before they even know they’re looking for me – seeing my name, learning information from me. I want them to feel like they know me before they call me.”
The Key to Social Success is Building an Emotional Connection
Building relationships has always been the key to being a successful advisor or agent. Though it may seem hard to believe for some, this can absolutely be done online, through social media. Jim believes that social media allows you to present yourself in a way that allows others to decide whether you match what they want and need, and being pre-qualified in the relationship is a very powerful thing. He shared that research shows many consumers are very interested in buying what advisors have to offer; they’ve done a lot of research and they’re looking for relationships. If you can present yourself in a powerful, engaging way – a human way – they’ll reach out to you.
Matt’s agency perspective brought several concrete steps one can take to build these relationships:
- When you meet people at local events, follow them, friend them, then invite them to like you. Let them get a sense of who you are before you begin discussing products.
- Create a sense of community. Do personalized, local interest posts. His agency shares things like ‘Where’s the best apple picking?’, ‘Who has the best pies on Long Island?’, and curated lists the Long Island community will value. He strongly believes in providing value beyond answering insurance questions. This is what keeps people coming back!
- Interaction is critical! Where a lot of people lose credibility in social media is in the response. Make sure when people engage with your post, you respond to them. Matt gave a hilarious analogy here: If you were at a party and someone came up and said ‘Hi, my name’s Jonathan” and you turned around and walked away, it would be rude. Same goes on social media
What Fuels the Emotional Connection?
The answer to this question is no great surprise. Christy and Matt agreed a combination of content and brand – a set of attributes you want prospects/customers to think of when they think of you or your agency – were the necessary foundation for building an emotional connection.
For content, Matt shared that “insurance is still sold at kitchen tables and in the back of pickup trucks, but the funnel starts online now; content has to be local and personal.” By this, Matt means that he and his agency invest a lot of time in building custom content that let his brand shine. He noted that using Hearsay is critical for them to schedule their content and ensure compliance, and occasionally share corporate content. The scheduling feature in particular is a favorite, since it allows him to appear to be always accessible. He can schedule posts all day and night, on holidays and have a consistent presence. Consistency is a point that Matt stressed repeatedly.
While Christy sees the value of organic (custom / personalized) content, she knows that it doesn’t come as easily to some agents as others. Her job in the home office is to support the field with ideas, strategies and content to engage with their audiences. She provides plenty of content through the Hearsay Social Library to supplement advisors’ own efforts. She makes sure they have a strong content library, and educates agents on using content in a way to personalize and humanize themselves for validation rather than advertising, which is a trap many inexperienced advisors fall into.
An important note from Jim: he strongly believes that while contests and gimmicks may work, what consumers want today is understanding and advice. There is so much information out there, they’re looking for someone who they can trust to turn to for education. The real prize they are looking for is education.
The other big topic we touched on is metrics. At Hearsay, we’ve developed new metric guidelines (KPI suggestions) for companies to evaluate the impact of advisors and agents at each stage of the client journey, as well as actions to be taken with Hearsay Social at each stage to support those goals. I talked through these, Christy talked through what metrics are important to her and Matt shared what tracking helps him as an agency owner. It was a pretty robust discussion so I encourage you to tune in to the recorded version of the webinar to learn more.
I’ll leave you with a story Matt shared as our final thought: Earlier this year, Matt was doing a campaign via traditional marketing (letters) and social media. He was contacted by phone, by someone who saw a post on Facebook through a friend who followed Matt. Because he saw Matt’s information through a trusted connection, he was predisposed to trust Matt. Matt signed this large account that would typically have a 6 month to 1 year sales cycle in just 3-4 weeks!