Bryan Yetman of First Durham Insurance & Financial says the social media you choose will depend upon your endgame.
Which social media channel should be the subject of brokers’ attention?
I have heard brokers debate this topic in a wide variety of settings. Frequently, the conversation features someone purporting to be an expert on the subject. This person will articulate in great detail how brokers must engage in whatever channel that particular individual believes is “ideal” for brokers.
This bothers me as much as when I hear people passionately debate who the best baseball player of all-time. The truth is, it’s all a matter of perspective. Asked the same question, my answer is consistent: it depends on what you want to do and, more importantly, where do you think you can sustain your commitment.
Don’t get me wrong, I like how brokers are talking about this more often. Our profession earns its reputation on the advice we provide, and so we need to figure out ways to engage customers whose attention span is rapidly shrinking to 144 characters (the maximum message size for Twitter).
If you believe current research about our business today (and I do), it is clear we are falling way below expectations when it comes to how often we communicate with our customers. Consumers are expecting to hear more from us. So we do have to think about new ways to achieve this, and I think social media provides an opportunity.
I am not about to tell you what solution I think is right or wrong. As I stated earlier, I think that depends on what you want to get out of your efforts and what you can actually commit to doing. This is the type of practical conversation your organization really has to have. Once you know the direction you want to go, it should be clear which media channel will take you there. This will allow you to build an appropriate social media strategy.
If you are thinking about embracing social media (and I hope you are), I have provided some thoughts about the more popular sites, the circumstances in which I think they may be appropriate and have identified a few special considerations you may wish to consider in your decision.
No matter which media you choose, one rule of thumb applies to all forms of consumer contact. Research tells us that in order to engage current and prospective consumers successfully, it is critical to share relevant information about things that matter to them in a method they prefer. And quite honestly, this is nothing new.
Twitter is perfect for brokers who may not have the time to publish content. It is also useful for brokers who aren’t necessarily looking for a social conversation, but who nevertheless want to be engaged in social media. It is a good starting point to consider, because it is a highly effective way to quickly share comments or link to interesting content on a wide variety of topics in 144 or fewer characters. For brokers, Twitter can help push out real-time information such as weather watches for potential storm damage. It can also be used to share news articles or tips about how to manage risk. Twitter moves fast; as such, it can be a bit dizzying to stay on top of it. But in my view, it is still worth a look.
Facebook is where you can find a bit of everything. On Facebook, you can advertise, share content created by others, publish your own content and participate in a variety of conversations. Facebook may also help brokers create social relationships with younger customers. I have met many brokers who have used this tool as a great referral source. Brokers who seem to be doing the best with this medium appear to be very committed to using it. Therefore, I would suggest this avenue if you have the time and energy to keep up with it.
This is now the most widely used social media space in the world. In my opinion, YouTube is a great way for brokers to share video-based content about specific things and embed them on their own websites. Want to educate consumers about water damage? Create a 30-second, one-minute video showing clips from recent storms. Overlay your voice explaining the changing climate and the need for proper risk management and coverage about which consumers need to know.
If you have the time and desire to write content, as opposed to sharing content created by others, blogs present tremendous opportunity to be more unique. Do you have opinions about a variety of insurance topics that you want to share? A blog provides a great space for you to engage. But it is not uncommon for enthused bloggers to run out of things to say, leaving months between posts. So before taking on a project of this magnitude, I would strongly suggest that you establish a manageable publishing schedule – once per week, maximum – and have three months’ worth of content ready to go before you begin to publish.