Feed Your Brain

Brain Coral
Much of the “conversation” around the social web is focused on how to create a presence and get found. Yet, there is another significant value lurking in the social space. It is the amazing resource of information and knowledge residing here. As friend Mike Wise is fond of saying, “There is a hidden treasure in ‘social’ that can be used to feed your brain and increase your IQ.” While that may seem obvious to many, I find that its potential is under appreciated and is rarely used effectively.

I am talking about more than Google search. It is more than just researching a topic. Rather, it is using search in places like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to differentiate yourself and increase your competitive advantage.

Here is an example to demonstrate my point. During a breakout session on social media at a recent Agents Council for Technology meeting an agent recounted how a service provider showed up for a meeting and presented him with a book on a topic to of interest to him. Prior to the meeting, the service provider had researched the agent’s profile on Linkedin, and Facebook. Clearly, this gesture made an impression.

How are you using this rich information and knowledge resource?

Photo Credit: Flickr Ryan Somma

Plan Less – Play More

Yes, on numerous occasions, I have championed the need to have a well thought through and comprehensive social media strategic plan – a plan that is consistent and integrated into an overall business plan. In a perfect world that is probably good advice. You know…. “ Unless you know where you are going how do you know when you have arrived.” Yet, I am fully aware that many small businesses don’t have a fully developed or well-articulated business plan let alone a plan for their digital presence.

While I still think there needs to be some general goals, when it comes to creating a social presence, I vote for less planning and more action. When I think of my own experience, it was after jumping in, playing and experimenting that I was able to really begin to understand the tools and appreciate how they could be used in business.

It is the low cost of entry into the social web that makes this a viable approach. Yes, it will take time and there is a learning curve but writing a blog, Tweeting, setting up a Facebook Fan page, engaging is a Linkedin Group discussion, and posting a customer video endorsement on YouTube will not cost a penny.

There is no one  “right” way to use social media. Almost by definition, each of us approach and use social media in our own unique way. Only through experience do we develop our individual social personality – the strategy will follow and evolve.

What has your experience been?

photo flickr curtesy of MacAllenBrothers

Social Business Resources – In Case You Missed These….

Lots going on and I know you are all very busy. So, just in case you didn’t see these –  here are some links to resources I think you will find interesting, informative and educational.

Agents Council for Technology (ACT). There are all kinds of great resources on this site including recorded webinars. The Best Web Marketing Strategy You’ve Never Heard is the most recent article and gives a step-by-step guide on setting up local search on Google, Yahoo, Bing and others. Local search is an important component to any agency’s social web strategy.

Insurance Journal “On Point” Podcast. I host this along with Peter van Aartrijk. These are conversations with interesting and informative industry experts on a wide range of industry topics. I think you will find the two most recent conversations with agency owners about their social media initiatives particularly interesting. McClain Insurance owner Claudia McClain’s discussion is here. The podcast by David Pullman from Parker, Smith & Feek can be found here.

I recently asked agencies and other insurance folks who were blogging to list their blog under the Discussion Tab on my Facebook Fan Page. Over 35 have now done so. There are some really good ones and if you are considering starting a blog I would highly recommend that you check some of these out. You can also access a list of industry blogs from the “Links” tab on this blog.

Also, here are a few resources that I think were particularly good in offering advice on how be more successful with social networking.

10 Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page Following

6 Ways To Use Video As A Small Business Owner

10 Social Media Best Practices for PR Pros

Finally, before I forget…. If you are not familiar with the Personal Lines Growth Alliance please go here and join (its free).

If you have recently found an article or video that has helped you transition into a Social Business, please share it with us. Just post it as a comment. Thanks.

Is The Insurance Industry Blogging?

Back in July 2008, I wrote the article, “Is There a Blog in Your Future?” for The Agents Council for Technology (ACT).  At the time, many questioned whether or not the insurance industry (let alone agents and brokers) would ever embrace the idea of writing a blog. So, here we are a little over two years later – Is the industry blogging?

Last Friday, I posted this on Twitter  asking anyone interested to go the discussions tab on my Facebook Fan page and post their blog URL. As of this morning, 22 insurance people have listed their blogs. No, this is not a comprehensive list – but clearly our industry is blogging.

Are you blogging? If not but are thinking about it, check out the blogs that are listed here. There are some really good ones and you will learn a lot about how to go about blogging by watching these bloggers.

If you have a blog it is not too late to add your Blog URL to the list or leave a comment on this post with your blog URL.

Should You Outsource Your Social Media?

Full disclosure – I am biased. I help organizations with their social media. I work at providing education around this topic and most typically help organizations in the development of their social media strategy. That being said, I still think there is a debate over the advisability of outsourcing social media to a third party. Clearly, developing your own unique voice and showcasing your personality in an honest and authentic way is an important component to building trusted relationships. Yet, I believe there are instances where a third party adviser can provide value. Take a watch and let me know what you think. Do you outsource any of your social media? How is it working? What advice would you give others?