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5 Ways to Integrate Social Media Into Your Daily Routine

shutterstock_168278123Having an online presence is a critical part of building connections with prospects and maintaining relationships with existing customers. Many financial services professionals are now promoting their businesses online via social media and other digital channels to stay top of mind.
But changing up an existing routine isn’t always easy. Adding another channel to your marketing mix takes time to establish and grow, and figuring out how to incorporate a new communication outlet into an existing workflow or process of doing things may be a challenge initially.
Once established, though, leveraging digital marketing channels as part of your sales process can reap considerable benefits. Robert Edgin, who represents American National Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates, has integrated digital channels into his day-to-day in a meaningful way that drives real business results.
Here are five strategies that Robert and several other agents at American National have successfully implemented to optimize their digital presence.
1. Start With a Clear Goal
Think about your overall goals for your practice. Your social profiles and websites should enhance the activities you are already doing to meet those goals. Robert says that “95% to 98% of all new business is referral based.” He is at the point in his practice where almost all of his business comes from existing customers in the form of referrals or additional products and services. He uses social media as a way to connect with his current clients and foster productive relationships with them.
2. Have One Message Across Multiple Channels
There are a lot of approaches to getting in front of people, but none resonate stronger than a unified message. It’s important to participate in a variety of channels because your customers and prospects like to consume information in different ways. If you are promoting an upcoming event on social media, refer contacts on your email and newsletter distribution lists to it. All of the communication that you do should work together. Robert uses a combination of newsletters, social media, email and video messages to enable multiple communication touch points with his customers and partners.
3. Leverage Centers of Influence
Centers of influence (COIs) can come in many forms – look to your clients, colleagues, experts in your industry or even other professionals. Amplify your message through your existing network by posting engaging content online. Build a mutually beneficial referral network with complementary local businesses. Distribute print materials to your partners that point to your digital presences and make it easier for interested prospects to find you!
4. Get Help
If digital marketing isn’t in your wheelhouse, delegate the responsibility of managing that aspect of your business-building efforts to other colleagues in your practice. Many social media sites and social media management tools have the functionality to invite other users to help manage your pages. If you work with a carrier that offers tools to help you operationalize your marketing efforts, evaluate how these tools can be helpful to you.
5. Be Consistent
Make planning and scheduling your social media and digital content a part of your regular routine. This may take a bit of time at first, but thinking ahead gives you the opportunity to effectively deliver a strong and consistent message. For example, if you are planning a local event, point print collateral and emails to your social sites and or/website for more information on how to participate.
This article originally appeared in ThinkAdvisor
For best practices on how to use social networks to engage with clients and build deeper relationships, visit www.HearsaySocial.com.
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Why content matters for the social business

Ed. note: This post is the first in a series drawing from the Hearsay Social e-book The Language of Social: A Guide to Content for the Social Business. Download the entire report for free here.

Content is the language of social.
From viral videos to professional photos, news articles to blog posts, status updates to tweets: content is the bread and butter of being a social business. These days, corporate marketing departments and creative agencies the world over have to work overtime creating fresh, original, and relevant content for their audiences.
Unsurprisingly, 95% of marketers and agencies have curated content over the past six months by sharing a link, blog post, or other kind of content, according to a recent survey by Curata published in eMarketer. In the same survey, 85% of respondents said the main objective of content curation was establishing thought leadership. Nearly as many–80% of respondents–said they were curating content to elevate brand visibility and buzz.

Connecting with customers on social media demands content. It’s what creates engagement, builds relationships, sparks new connections, and keeps conversations going. Ultimately, content drives business on social media.
And, today, demand for content across all the social networks is insatiable.
With all this demand, how can marketers keep up? It’s a question easier asked than answered. In fact, the same Curata survey cited above found a large number of marketers struggling with finding the time to curate content, create original content, and scour the Web and other resources for high-quality content.
Breathe easy. There are many, many ways to create and curate good content that don’t require you to stretch your marketing team too thin. Let this e-book be an initial guide for you in developing your content marketing strategy for your social business.

Writing A+ Social Media Content

The following is an excerpt from Clara Shih’s best-selling book, The Facebook Era. This section is from Chapter 11 – How to: Engage Customers with Facebook Pages and Twitter. She outlines how to write compelling social media content that leads to higher engagement and response from your fans.
A good rule of thumb is you can talk about yourself or your product once in every five posts (or less). Facebook Pages are all about the soft sell. Overly self-promotional pages are a major turn-off. People should be able to figure out from your Page name, info tab, and blurb box what products and services you sell.
The best way to engage your fans is to offer something valuable on a consistent basis. Value can take different forms, including entertainment value, information, or financial value from special deals and coupons. Here are eight kinds of posts that generate high engagement and response while contributing positively to your brand:

Be Helpful

Provide news and information people will appreciate. What you post should be relevant to your business but most importantly relevant to your fans. Rather than going for the hard sell, Chicago-based Newman Realty posted about the federal tax credit for first-time home buyers. By being helpful, Newman Realty is building credibility, authority, and trust so that when people are in the market to buy, they will know who to call.
Newman Realty
The Page for Newman Realty focuses on providing valuable information and advice for first-time home buyers rather than going for the hard sell.

Be Funny and Entertaining

Share jokes, stories, or musings that reflect your personality and people will thank you for brightening their day. For example, Saint Louis real estate agent John Jackson has built quite a loyal following with his sense of humor. Each day, he posts a “Horrible MLS Photo of the Day.”
Realtor John Jackson
Realtor John Jackson makes his fans laugh by posing a “Horrible MLS Photo of the Day” on his Facebook Page.

Love Your Fans

Periodically recognize your fans. If someone just bought a car or house, thank and congratulate them. Encourage your fans to post content like pictures, videos, links, and musings. Your Facebook Page should be all about your fans!
Dunkin' Donuts
Dunkin’ Donuts runs an ongoing “Fan of the Week” contest where fans submit photos of themselves with the brand, and each week the winning photo is used as the Facebook Page profile picture for all one million fans to see.

Invite Fans to Your Events

To create an event, click “Edit Page” on the top right of your Facebook Page. On the left side of the screen, click the “Apps” tab. Find the “Events” application and click “Go to App.” Provide the specifics of the event and invite your fans!

Announce New Products

Share new product announcements. Ideally you can link to a page on your website with more info and a picture. For instance, Ford drummed up excitement for its new 2011 Ford Fiesta by posting videos from the Los Angeles Auto Show featuring the new model.
Ford Fiesta
Ford got fans excited about the 2011 Ford Fiesta by letting them preview photos and videos from the LA Auto Show.

Announce New Locations

Celebrate new offices, franchises, and locations by sharing with fans using geography targeting. For example, Chipotle has unveiled new locations such as one in Buffalo, New York, with Wall posts and special grand opening events.

Provide Special Offers

Give your fans early or exclusive access to deals, offers, discounts, special events, free gift with purchase, or free gift for referrals to thank them.
Safeway Grocery Store
Safeway Grocery Store gave away a free five-pound box of Clementine oranges to Facebook fans and grew its Facebook Page by tens of thousands of fans.

Ask fans to weigh in

Engage your fans and let them know you value their opinion by periodically asking questions, either via a poll or survey application, or simply posting a question on your Page Wall.

Get Personal

Let your personality and office culture shine through. Share tidbits of personal information that help build trust and let people know you are really someone who cares. Businesses can establish a genuine connection with customers by letting the personalities of their staff shine through on Facebook Pages through photos, holiday greetings, and other forms of authentic sharing.