We Need To Do More Than Social Media

 

6217869581_0c7d0be694_oSeveral years ago, just getting on social sites being and posting status updates was leading edge and unique. No longer. Pretty much everyone has a Facebook page.

Over a year ago, I wrote a post for the Aartrijk “Brain Food” blog entitled “Becoming a Social Business”.

In that post I was making the point that there is a difference between organizations that simply execute social media tactics and those that actually become social businesses. Agencies that find success with social media realize their business must be transformed or reinvented. They understand the need for a comprehensive social strategy that is clearly aligned with business goals as well as senior management involvement and organizational alignment that enables execution of that strategy.

Being social vs. just doing social is still a key concept. Yet, there is more. Our society is going through (some would argue has gone through) a digital transformation. That is, all aspects of our society have undergone change born out digital technology. Individual businesses in order to stay relevant must also go through a digital transformation – they must learn to adapt and master transformational change.

I am not sure of the origin of this concept but digital transformation is sometimes considered the final of the three stages of embracing digital technology. The fist two stages being digital competency and digital literacy.

The reinvention required to be successful in our digital world is even more comprehensive than just becoming a social business. It is the difference between a Borders bookstore and Amazon. It is the difference between improving a traditional business and creating an entirely new model. The Apple iPod wasn’t just an improvement over the traditional music store. Rather, it was the creation of an entirely new model for purchasing and consuming music.

How does the digital transformation impact insurance agents – what does a digitally transformed insurance agency (or industry) look like? While I am don’t have the definitive answer to this and would like to hear what you think – I do know we need to be doing more than social media.

Photo credit – Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

 

 

 

Social Conversation: It’s Not That Complicated.

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I don’t know about you but I am feeling overwhelmed and growing weary of the proliferation of all the blogs and posts about how to do social media. You know posts like: “10 Ticks To Get More Followers, The 5 Best Strategies To Grow Your Fan Base, 5 Roadblocks To Social Media Success, A Comprehensive Guide To Digital Marketing Success, 8 Social Media Strategies for Small Business”, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I can only imagine how many agents must feel. – Does it is really need to be this complicated? Does success depend on strict discipline and adherence to a formal set of rules? I don’t think so.

Social Media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Google+, etc. are just a set of new tools to be used by you to communicate with your customers and potential customers. They are tools to be used to help you create awareness, build community, and strengthen relationships.

Involvement is social media is more about being social than doing social. Of course there are a set of best practices and strategies that should be followed. Yet, I think most of those fall under the category of “common sense.” The good social manners you use in the real world still hold true in the digital world. For example, just as you would not go to a Chamber of Commerce meeting and ask every new person you meet to buy insurance from you – don’t to use social outlets to blast a sales message. Being a good listener, not hogging a conversation, being respectful of your audience, and having something of value to say are all good practices in the online world just at they are in the real world.

Don’t get caught up in all the “how to succeed” hype and clutter. You don’t need “tricks” to get followers or complicated strategies to be successful. Rather, step back and ask yourself how you would act and what you would say in a face-to-face conversation and do the same online.

TL;DR

Read On Mr. PotterTL;DR is geek speak for “too long; didn’t read” and is typically used as a reply to an overly long statement or post that you did not read do to its excessive length.

We have all been there… we are busy, rushed, and multi-tasking. We don’t want to take time to read – well, much of anything.

One of the reasons I like twitter is the fact that you only have 140 characters to convey your message – success requires you to focus and get to the point.

Perhaps we have become a post literate society? I know there are those of you who still consume the Sunday paper but for a growing number, photos, icons, and video trump the written word.

So, if you don’t want a TL;DR response to your website, blog, or social posts …be concise.

Listen

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I have found that one of the best ways to learn is to listen. My social media and digital marketing journey has involved a lot of listening. When I say listening, I mean watching and paying attention to what people I have come to respect are doing and saying.

We are lucky in that we now have an ever-growing group of smart and creative agents who are worth watching to learn how to effectively use digital and content marketing.

Here are some of the people I learn from. If you “listen” you will too.

Don’t Make This Big Mistake

This post originally appeared on August 20, 2011. Yet, it is still relevant and a good reminder.

Clearly, there is an ongoing surge in social networking use within the insurance space. That is the good news. The bad news is that many are using (or more accurately abusing) social networking platforms to amplify their sales message. As I see it, this is the biggest mistake being made, especially by those new to the social networking.

I know that many of you reading this blog fully understand this point. Yet, I think it significant enough to the ultimate success of anyone expecting to benefit from social networking that there is reason to revisit the issue.

Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

There is a fundamental difference between the old push or interruption type of marketing and social marketing. When using social networking it is expected that before you try and sell someone you first build a relationship with them, Or said another way, consumers in the social space expect to have a relationship with you and a certain level of trust before they buy. Be present so that when they are ready to buy they can find you. Just as you the first words out of your mouth at a chamber mixer would not be, “I sell insurance – please buy from me”. The same holds true on Facebook, Twitter or any other social app for that matter.

Spend time building and nurturing your relationships with friends, fans/likes and followers. You do that by being a participant in the conversation. Comment on others posts, provide subject matter expertise, and be transparent and honest. Remember, there is no quick fix here. Building relationships (online or offline) takes time and effort. Be a good social community citizen and be patient – success will find you.

What other mistakes do you see being made?