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.

 

Sabatical

I should have written this post back in May but… I am taking some time off from writing my blog. This summer JoAnne and I are volunteering as camp hosts in Ridgway State Park. You can follow us at http://rjrvtravels.blogspot.com. We also have a Facebook page at http://facebook.com/rjrvtravels. Finally, I will continue to blog on the Aartrijk blog at http://aartrijk.com. My best wishes for you all to have a great summer and I will catch up with you this fall.

Social Media – Spring Cleaning

I spent much of this weekend doing spring cleaning – I guess it is that time of the year. Not the kind represented by the photo but rather social media spring cleaning. In doing so, I was reminded of several handy tools, resources, and tips that I thought I would share with you.

My first project was to tidy up my Twitter account. I was approaching close to 5,000 followers and following an equal number back. I wanted to stop following people with inactive accounts or without profile pictures and I wanted to cut back on the people I was following who were not following me back. With the help of ManageFlitter – mission accomplished.

I  use TweetDeck to manage my twitter account but it had gotten out of control. Actually, I have several accounts I manage using TweetDeck including my new @rjrvtravels account I set up to tweet about our RV travel adventures. I spent some time deleting lists, creating new lists, and organizing my TweetDeck columns –  then made sure my TweetDeck apps on my iPhone, iPad, and Chrome were all in synch.

Finally, I went into Twellow and searched for some new people to follow.

When I was all done, I checked out my Twitter grade at Twitter Grader. I now have about 4,500 followers and am following back 4,380 and have a Twitter grade of 100.

Next, I spent some time tweaking my LinkedIn profile. For example, under Basic Information, I changed my “Headline” from listing just my title to more of a statement of what I do. I also used more descriptive titles for my website links than just “blog”. To do this go to edit “Additional Information” and under “Websites” pick “other” rather than “blog” or “personal” or “business website”. Then just add a more descriptive title/description and the URL.

Don’t forget that  potential business partners and customers are searching you on LinkedIn. A key aspect of strong personal brand  is a 100% complete and professional LinkedIn profile. Lewis Howes has several very good videos and blog post on on effective use of  LinkedIn.

I would be remise if I didn’t mention that on May 5, 2011 I am presenting “LinkedIn for Insurance Professionals–how to increase your brand, your sales and recruit top performers via LinkedIn” with Cindy Donaldson for the Agents Council for Technology (ACT). If you are interested, you can register here. If you are not familiar with the ACT site, be sure and check it out. It is full of very good and useful information all focused on helping agents make effective use of technology including social media.

After working on my LindedIn account, I moved on to my Facebook Page. I switched from my personal profile to using Facebook as Rick Morgan Consulting. This allowed me to “like” other business pages, as well as, comment and “share” their updates.  I think this is a great way to show support for my  business friends.

I also clicked on my page banner photos and added descriptions and in some cases appropriate links. Did you know you can do that?

I created my custom landing/welcome page many months ago but I want to encourage you to be sure and do this. You may need some professional help here and I would recommend Kim Woodbridge. She did my page.

Managing and organizing an on-line presence is always a challenge but I feel as though I made some progress. What tools do you use to keep your “social” space organized?

Now to get my clippers and rake and tackle my yard!

Photo Credit:  Spring Cleaning by f_trudeau, on Flickr

My thoughts on: “Is Facebook for Business Overrated”

I ran across this post this morning Is Facebook for Business Overrated which got me thinking… It certainly is if you expect your Facebook page to replace your website and/or expect that just because you have a Facebook page you will attract a large number of “likes” which will in turn translate into all kinds of new business sales. It is worth remembering that the social and cultural transformations taking place are far more significant than any specific technology.

Yet, many agents have found that Facebook when viewed and implemented as part of an overall “social” strategy can be very effective on many levels.

Trust is a key component in the consumer-agent relationship and increasingly consumers are using Facebook and other social media to determine who they trust and who they want to do business with. These tools can also be an effective way to connect with customers and maintain a presence between insurance transactions.

Facebook is not all about you. As a listening post, it is also an effective resource to use to keep tabs on your current customers, as well as, track other consumer needs.

Each “social” tool has its place in a well-conceived and properly implemented marketing plan.  Failure, more often than not, comes from not fully appreciating the role of each and not leveraging the synergy that evolves from using many tools (even traditional media) in a comprehensive marketing effort.

What has been your experience? Is Facebook working for you?