The “Age of Information” has left our digital landscape riddled with an overflow of excessive data and yet, simultaneously, also created an “expert in all things” culture. While there’s no question that the internet offers too much information for any individual to ever fully filter through and understand, some companies have come to the false conclusion that the information they find online eliminates their need for brokers or other experts they once employed. Internet-based benefits companies are particularly notorious for cutting traditional brokers out of the equation.
Why social media?
In today’s climate, it’s more imperative than ever for brokers to illustrate their long-term value. A great way to create that image is by tapping into social media in an effective and efficient manner. While the internet has made the broker’s job more challenging, it has also opened up a unique opportunity for brokers to tangibly solidify their expert status, provide greater value to their clients, and to build deeper relationships, which is the very bedrock of the broker’s profession.
Social media may initially seem like an odd fit for a broker (who is, on average, age 54), but in today’s increasingly digital world, social media is exactly where many relationships are established. Today’s consumers and purchasers are used to this sense of connectivity in every facet of their daily lives — from entertainment to keeping up with news and political events. For example, it is common to vet restaurants on social media before booking a table to ensure legitimacy, and in those cases, not having any social presence might be seen as disconcerting.
That said, not every social media platform is right for every company. Apple is famous for not having a presence on Twitter (except for their App Store offering), proving quality is still better than quantity in the social media world.
Choosing the right platform
Social media has become a solid marketing channel — communities where businesses enhance their reputation by interacting with their customers. As of January 2016, 93 percent of businesses were using Facebook for marketing, 76 percent were using Twitter, and 67 percent were active on LinkedIn, according to Statista.
Rather than setting up social media profiles simply to have them, brokers should have a regular online presence that showcases their expertise to clients. But prior to creating their social identity, brokers should break down which platforms make the most sense to them:
Blogging: Many businesses maintain a blog on their website to provide information on their products and services, and to provide any other information that their customers might find relevant (e.g., industry trends). Broker’s in particular can find value in thought leadership. Additionally, owned content can also drive SEO traffic and find its way into citation on publication’s pages.
LinkedIn: While many think of LinkedIn as a useful tool for recruitment, it is also a professional forum for sharing ideas. Brokers can position themselves as thought leaders in the industry by joining groups on LinkedIn (and actively participating), sharing original content that explores industry issues, and simply connecting with other thought leaders in the space. It’s also a great place for brokers to stay up-to-date on their existing connections.
Facebook: With nearly 2 billion active users, Facebook claims a major audience. While it remains a platform for friends, families, and communities of interest to gather online, it can also be used to communicate with, market to, and build relationships with their customers. Brokers can leverage Facebook with regular and consistent posts to engage with followers and potential customers daily. Sharing activities, incorporating the use of visuals and other engaging content, and personally responding to comments will strengthen a broker’s online presence.
Twitter: Brokers can use Twitter to communicate with prospects and clients, connect with influencers, and answer insurance questions (Twitter is a great tool to host Q&A sessions, or “Tweet-a-thons”). It’s also an ideal platform for sharing relevant industry news for followers.
At the end of the day, what drives broker’s ability to convert and retain customers is their innate ability to add value. While most brokers will have a basic understanding of how social media can be used to build relationships, brokers should also consider it as a platform to enhance reputation.