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.

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

Mobile: Trends in Insurance

In a post back in January, I asked you for your thoughts on what would be the Key Technology trends that would have an impact on the insurance industry in 2011. I was headed to the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) meeting in Tampa and wanted your input. Many of your comments centered on the impact mobile technology and computing would have on our industry. Not surprisingly, mobile technology was also the most discussed trend in the strategic future issues break-out sessions held during the ACT meeting. Mobile computing as distinguished from desktop Internet is much more significant than just phones. It also includes tablets (iPad), readers (Kindle), MP3 players (iPod), Car electronics (GPS), home entertainment (Wii) and wireless home appliances (Internet TV).

We have been talking about mobile for a couple of years. Yet, in 2011 for the first time, sales of smartphones will surpass the combined sales of PC desktops and laptops. It is important to note that it is estimated that almost 60% of time spent on mobile phones is spent on activity other than call, texting and mail. It impact of mobile becomes even more significant when you consider the success of the iPad.

Mobile users will demand better browsing experiences from brand sites. They are going to expect platform neutral and real time access to information and services at anytime from anywhere.  Ok… so, we all agree that mobile is going to be transformative. Yet, what does that really mean for insurance agents & brokers and how are they going to rise to the challenge to meet the expectations of the mobile consumer?

At a very basic level, most websites need to be optimized for mobile devices. The future is about much more than building a iPhone App that links back to an agency website and offers claim advice. As good as that is, it is not enough. We need to begin to think about how to offer mobile transaction capability. Stuff like providing policy delivery to tablets and creative ways to process insurance payments and other forms of self-service. For example, allowing customer’s to use smartphones to snap a “scan” of a vin number of a new car purchase and launch notification to the agent or broker and start of the endorsement process. Creating mobile Apps that make it possible to access and process certificates of insurance or request auto id cards. Clearly, there are major challenges around validation, security and privacy. Yet, we have no choice but to find solutions to these concerns if we are to succeed.

What is your take? How do you see the industry being effected by mobile trends and what action must it take to meet this challenge?

The Now Revolution – a book review

Typically, I don’t write book reviews. Yet, I found The Now Revolution so relevant and filled  full of actionable information that I felt compelled to let you know about it. I first “met” Amber Naslund on Twitter (@ambercadabra) about 3 years ago. Early on, Amber was a great help to me as I started my blog and began my “social”  journey. I am a regular reader of her Brass Tack Thinking blog and last year Peter van Aartrijk and I interviewed her for our Insurance Journal “On Point” podcast. What I appreciate about Amber is her ability to link a new technology or social trend back to a relevant business strategy or tactic. When I heard that she had partnered with Jay Baer (@jaybaer) and was writing a book I could hardly wait to get my hands on it. A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded the Kindle version and finished it on a flight back from Vegas.

The Now Revolution provides readers with the business context that is missing from so many social discussions. It is a handbook of sorts – maybe even a survival guide for anyone who is navigating the social landscape. It does a great job identifying and underscoring the cultural shift being fueled by “social” and its impact on business.

Technology by itself is not magic. If magic is to happen it requires a business to do “new work” in “new ways”. That is, reinventing or creating new strategies, processes, and procedures, as well as, transforming the culture is mandatory in order to fully leverage and benefit from the promise and opportunity presented by new technology. Amber and Jay understand this and explore “7 shifts that can make your company faster, smarter, and more social.” They are the shits needed to position your company to compete and thrive in today’s digitally connected real time world.

As an example, the second shift “Find Talent You Can Trust” covers topics such as how to build and manage a purposeful team. how to hire, needed  skill sets, organizational structure, education, and the need to motivate are discussed in the context of finding, developing, and keeping talent you can trust. Besides outlining the process and providing strategic guidelines, the book is filled with “Now Hear This” notices that offer all kinds of actionable and  tactical suggestions. As an added bonus, the book is enhanced with Microsoft Tag Technology. Thus, using your smart phone you can gain access to bonus content including videos, tips, discussions and various other resources.

I couldn’t agree more with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs who in her testimonial stated, “Jay and Amber have penned a book that truly isn’t a social media book. In other words, this isn’t the book you pick up when you want to create a blog or Twitter feed or Facebook group; rather, this is the book to read when you need to understand how our newly social and connected world has disrupted business as usual, and why you need to bother thinking about that.”

Yes, I highly recommend The Now Revolution. If you have already read it , please comment and let us know what you think.