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?

Keeping Busy with Aartrijk and ACT

The picture with this post is from Ridgway State Park, which is where JoAnne and I spent the summer volunteering as camp hosts. We liked it so much we will be going back again next summer.

Yes, summer is over and I am back home in Broomfield. In fact, yesterday the foothills of the Front Range in Colorado saw their first snow. Some of the mountains in received over a foot of snow and Wolf Creek ski area is open.

From a work perspective, I continue to serve as the Chair of the Social Media workgroup for ACT (Agents Council for Technology). Most recently, Cindy Donaldson and I hosted a “Facebook for Insurance Professionals” webinar, which had close to 1000 participants. ACT continues to do great work and if you have not already, I would encourage you to visit their website and consider getting involved.

My role as Sr. Vice President at Aartrijk is where I focus most my effort. I have great respect for Peter van Aartrijk and the entire Aartrijk team and in my role fully enjoy helping our clients find their “voice” in the “social” space.

Which reminds me, have you taken a look at Google +? I think you should. I know, the last thing you want to think about is yet another social site to add to the time suck of social networking. Yet, I am really liking Google +. I find it much cleaner than Facebook and really like to “circle” concept for organizing my communities. I do not see Google + so much as competition to Facebook. Rather, I think it may be the beginning of a very compelling “cloud” environment that will grow as Google integrates all of its apps. If you join Google + (or are already there) please add me to one of your circles. You can find me at: http://gplus.to/rickjmiv or just click the “Add to Circles” button in the right sidebar of this post. If you want a Google + widget for your website or blog you can get it here.

Finally, while I am going to provide periodic updates to this post, most of my blogging will be on the Aartrijk blog. My most recent post: Disaster Communications: We Can Do More with Social Media. So, again please consider following me and the rest of the Aartrijk team: Here.