What app has a billion users, receives four billion ‘likes’ each day, and is used by 47% of millennials? If you guessed Instagram, you’d be right.
With this kind of popularity and ubiquitous influence among a wide swathe of people today, it makes sense that some insurance agents are turning to the social media platform to boost their customer engagement and market their agencies.
“I definitely see some agents who are using these tools and using them very well, like Jared Bellmund at ALLCHOICE Insurance in North Carolina. He’s actually really great at using Instagram Stories to engage with his audience when it makes sense for his agency,” said Becky Schroeder, chief marketing officer at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), though she noted that an Instagram-savvy agent is still the exception, and not the rule.
The key benefit of using a platform like Instagram is building relationships with people, the 2020-way.
“We talk about building relationships and everyone I think jumps to building them in person, but it’s almost 2020 – relationships start online now more often than they start in person and it is incredibly common for digital relationships to happen before the in-person relationships,” said Schroeder. “Social media is not about getting more sales. You can’t be salesy on social media because it won’t work, so that means you have to focus on building the relationships and engaging with the people who are following you and who you are following.”
One thing potentially stopping agents from joining Instagram might be not knowing how to get started. But fear not – Schroeder recommends moving slowly and observing before posting anything.
“I always like to start with following before I really start posting. Back when social media first became a thing – what feels like just a few years ago, but was really 12 or more years ago – I started out just following people and watching what other people were saying and how they were using the platform,” she explained, adding that this helped her develop an idea of what she wanted to do on the platform. Agents can follow in her footsteps. “Look up other agents who you admire to see what they’re doing, but also look at other businesses that can be your referral partners or just other local businesses that you admire. How are they promoting what they’re trying to do?”
Identifying the ways in which those businesses are succeeding can in turn help an agent determine what they want to apply to their agency’s own Instagram.
As for what to post, taking your own photos rather than relying on stock photography will help boost engagement.
“As far as engaging, definitely use your own photography. Don’t use stock photography because you’re just not going to get the engagement on the stock photography as you would a genuine, authentic picture that you have taken,” said Schroeder. “It may not be the best picture ever, and that’s fine. People are very forgiving of that because it’s more genuine. The genuine, the authentic – that’s what people are wanting when they’re looking on social media versus a stock photo that does not really relate to your business.”
Posts can include pictures of an agent’s team, their office, or local events that they’re attending or hosting, though professionals can also get creative.
“If you have either a graphic design app or certain apps on your phone, you can take a picture and then overlay some text on it,” said Schroeder. “If you want to share some facts around insurance, or I’ve seen people post about the number of drivers who are on the road texting every day – terrifying facts, but related to insurance – things like that, that can be a little bit insightful and touch on insurance without being like, ‘Call me about your insurance,’ because that’s not what you want to do. People are not going to go on Instagram and engage with the picture that’s talking about how I can help you with your home policy.”
After an agent has the post all ready to go, they should also plan out their hashtags.
“There are a lot of different hashtags you can use and one thing I really like about Instagram is that when you start to type out a hashtag, it tells you how many posts have used the hashtag. That gives you an idea of how popular that hashtag is,” said Schroeder. “Maybe there are some that seem to be used quite often and that’s going to help raise the visibility of your posts. You can also create one that is unique to your agency so that when you’re posting stuff that is ‘behind the scenes’ images or videos, you have that special hashtag to denote that this is about your culture.”
Schroeder uses #lifeatITC, for example, whenever she’s posting about the company, whether it’s photos from the ITC Halloween costume contest or the chilli cook-off the company held in February.
No matter how an agent approaches their Instagram, the key is to get started.
“The more you are using these tools to engage with the people who follow you, the more they will remember you so that when they are in a buying position, they will think to call you or go to your website,” Schroeder told Insurance Business.