Many of you are already champions in your own community. You serve on boards, you coach little league, volunteer and sponsor local events. And, hey, you have a business in that community - that alone is giving back. Community support certainly isn't a new concept to Independent Agents. One of the best things you can do for your neighbors and your agency is bring this community spirit to your social media channels.
Here are two easy ways:
1) Share What You're Doing
You know the old saying - "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
We know that recognition is not the reason you and your staff are being amazing community stewards. But, you should be proud of it and share your story so that your clients and prospects know the kind of business you are. Likeablity leads to loyalty from customers. And, in the process you may even encourage others to follow in your footsteps.
How to share what you are currently doing
Photos: Take a photo at the various activities you are involved in. It can even be a simple cell phone picture. Make sure those in the photo are ok with you posting it and then post it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Caption the photo with a short anecdote about the activity. Advanced users can create montages/mosaics that include multiple photos and upload from the event.
Text status update: Sometimes a photo can't be taken. That's ok! A simple post will still do the trick.
Examples: "Our little league team played their hearts out tonight. Go Cubs!" or "I'm flipping hotcakes right now, come to the @rotary breakfast at Smithtown Mall before noon. Chocolate chip or blueberry?"
Share a friend's post: Often times another participant, charity or business in an activity or event with post a photo, video or text update. Simple click the 'share' link below the post to share it on your page. You can choose to add a comment.
Videos: Is there a performance of the National Anthem at your event? Special moments and even just simply capturing a few seconds of what's around you can make a great video share. Videos have tremendous response rates. You can do this with just about any smartphone. Just keep it short! A little over your head right now? Don't worry, just stick to text and photos.
2) Share What's Happening in Your Community
You may not be involved in the local high school's performance of My Fair Lady, or the village-wide garage sale or even the fire department's annual boot campaign. But you can position yourself as a champion of your community by helping spread the word. Does this mean sharing every little thing that's happening, no. Think of the lives your customers and prospects lead. Do many of them have children that go to area schools? Do they attend the Fourth of July Celebration or Christmas Tree Lighting every year? Be a part of their community conversation.
How to share other aspects of your community
School Activities: Back to school, big games and events, graduation, honor roll list, even a student spotlight.
Town/Village/City: Special Events, celebrations, a photo with the Mayor with a little fact many people don't know.
Around Town: We love to see photos of things that are familiar. Try taking photos around town. Local coffee shop, favorite diner, landmarks, firefighters and police officers, points of interest, popular apple orchard, supermarket (if you have a Wegman's in town it's a sure-fire hit). You can ask people to guess where the photo was taken, what it's of or if they went to that school or ate at that restaurant. Profile the lady on the crosswalk or the man that has worked at the post office for 40 years. A simple photo and quick caption and you have created great content!
- Start with minimum of one community post per week
- Don't ask your followers to donate (exception is something really special you're doing, 1x a year)
- Get other members of your staff involved. Each person's volunteer activities are great to share, they make up your agency. It's nice to shine the spotlight on them. And, a staffer may find taking some photos around town a fun, small project!
- Don't be afraid to share a piece of yourself and what you are involved with. It's makes you relatable.
- Be sincere!
- Don't get overwhelmed. This can literally take only 5 minutes a week.
Being a champion of your community is not something that's new to you. Social media provides a new outlet to tell your story, that of your community and spread it. It all comes full circle as you position yourself as that type of agency. Good community members. Good people.
Have a great day,
How will you handle communicating with your clients in an emergency? What if your office is flooded and you have no power? Sandy showed us that agencies need more preparation on how to communicate in the worst of situations. We are here to help!
Communication is key in emergencies and social media helps us spread information quickly and easily. But you need to craft a quick plan in advance so you and your team can spring into action.
It's best to create a one page document with all of this information listed on it and make sure your team has it and understands it.
Preparation allows for less work during an emergency. Once the storm hits you will be very busy with claims! But, communication is very important.
Before an Emergency
- Know who has access to update your website. It should be at least two people. Have their phone numbers in your phone.
- Make sure at least two people have access to your social media channels. Each should have Facebook & Twitter app on their cell phones to easily post remotely. Assign who is responsible to post immediately.
- Have a printed and electronic one-sheet of all emergency numbers for customers. This should include FEMA, Red Cross, general company claim numbers (these can change so review regularly) and your emergency contact numbers. This sheet should reside in a variety of places including stored in a folder in your email. It is important that it is easy to access and post socially in an emergency. Consider having it on your website all the time.
- Have all staff member contact numbers off site
- Follow FEMA, Red Cross, Weather Channel & local disaster response organizations. You want to both stay informed and be able to easily share and retweet information quickly.
- Have a car charger accessible for your mobile device. Many members discovered this was the only way to charge their phones, which was their only connection.
- Know your social media log in information. You may have to access your account through someone else's computer if cell service is down.
- Research & have a plan for forwarding your phones.
- Have the IIABNY phone number programmed in your phone. IIABNY can be a big resource for anything you need during an emergency. We can post for you on your social channels, be a touchstone for staff you can't reach and help with companies. Anything you need, we encourage you to call!
- Consider Agility
- At the first signs of an impending storm or emergency, post on your website and social channels:
- Inform clients of what to do in an emergency
- Explain your agency plan should power go down
- Share disaster tips for maintaining personal safety and property
- Share evacuation notices
- Let friends & followers know you will do your best to update them on Facebook/Twitter
- Have a calming tone, reassuring clients that you will be there
- Inform members what to do if damage occurs. Call you? Call the company? Take photos?
- Consider posting your emergency contact sheet
- Reach out directly to clients directly in the path
- If you use an email marketing solution, send an email to clients.
- Post a phone number where you can be reached
- Post your emergency contact sheet
- Share any updates you know about the storm, this is a good time to retweet the facts from other established organizations
- Ask friends and followers if they are doing ok
- Monitor social media in your community so you are aware of what is happening around you
- If you need help posting, call IIABNY
- Update on your agency status - 'business as usual' or 'makeshift but here for you'
- Post your contact information again
- Share "what to do now"
- Ask friends and followers if they are doing ok
- Share locations of disaster assistance
- If you need help posting, call IIABNY
A little planned communication can go a long way to ease your mind and that of your clients.
As you know, TrustedChoice.com is powered by Project CAP. A large team of CAP experts are focused on forwarding many aspects of the site's success every day. I often hear many similar questions from agencies so I reached out to CAP to have a few of their team members share insights. Here is what they said:
Are agencies in NY receiving leads?
Answered by Chip Bacciocco, CEO
Absolutely, agencies in New York are getting leads and writing insurance. And even more will in the future as the traffic from consumers in New York State to TrustedChoice.com continues to grow.
Are the leads coming through the site the kind of customer I would want?
Answered by Paul Martin, State Liason
Yes, the leads are quality prospects. From our data we know that 75% of them are over 30 years old, half are married, 38% have are quoting cars that cost more than $30,000, and 55% are selecting the maximum liability limits. One example from a metro area agency was a woman who had purchased protection for her family from a direct insurer for years. The Trusted Choice® agent was not only able to write policies for their condo, auto, and umbrella, but also able to correct some mistakes the previous insurer had made. This type of consumer is exactly who independent agencies want to write, and who need our expertise and abilities most. In addition to these types of personal lines customers, TrustedChoice.com is attracting the attention of a surprising number of business owners looking for better insurance options, and agents are writing their commercial insurance as well.
How is traffic to the site from NY specifically?
Answered by Chip Bacciocco, CEO
The traffic to TrustedChoice.com specifically from New York has grown tremendously. To illustrate, since the new TrustedChoice.com site was launched last July, traffic to the site from New York state has grown over 1,500%. Literally thousands of people are visiting the site from New York each week.
What tips do you have for agencies to have the most attractive profiles?
Answered by David Roeber, NY Agency Account Leader
First and foremost is a good clean logo or photo on the profile. This attracts them to the second most important thing, and that is your Positioning Statement. This is where an agency can sell/separate themselves from the competition by connecting right away with the consumer. Other things that do help are making sure you have your links to your Social Pages set up, as well as including any videos that you may have done. Also having your staff photos and testimonials always help your agency look more personable, thus getting the consumer to choose you.
Social media is your focus, can you share some social tips agents can use?
Answered by Tom Hodson, Social Media Strategist The three most positive habits an agency producer can develop when it comes to social media are:
- Consistency – however often you choose to post each week, stick to it
- Likeability – make sure your content is personally related, about people, the community, things people are interested in, not just about insurance
- Virality – ask open ended questions in your posts that encourage a response
How do you make them feel? Who? Everyone.
Every person you meet is your potential customer. Some directly, others indirectly by way of influence.
Whether in your office, over the phone, when you run into them at the grocery store or through social media, it's critical to make them feel special, cared for, important.
How? Acknowledge, Listen, Respond and Praise.
Whenever you see them, say hello. Even a simple wave across the street or a hello on Facebook. Don't wait for your customer to do it first. You don't need to stop and talk, you don't need to remember much about them.
Whenever you can, use their name.
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
~ Dale Carnegie
Pay attention to what’s being said. The most important asset we gain from social media is the ability to watch and hear what is being said. Are your customers having issues, are they worried or did something wonderful happen in their life. Really pay attention to what they say and how they say it. Be both a good in-person and social listener.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
~ Dale Carnegie
If a client takes the time to tell you something via email, phone or by posting online be sure to respond. If you ask a question and an answer is posted, respond back. Treat them as you would a friend to build that trust and a respectful relationship. It doesn’t matter if they spend $5 or $50,000 with you, you never know who that person will influence.
"All lasting business is built on friendship."
~ Alfred A. Montapert
Did your customer accomplish something wonderful - an award or graduation. Did they do something great in the community. How about one of your employees. Social media presents a great opportunity to give a “shout-out” for something wonderful. Keep it short and sweet, sincere and include their name, and do it every once in a while. Others will see that you are the type of business that shows appreciation without an expectation in return.
"There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it."
~Lucius Annaeus Seneca
How are you making you customers feel right now?
Work "Acknowledge, Listen, Respond and Praise” into your regular routine and reap the long-term relationship rewards.
Have a great day!
Time and money are often a roadblock to rewarding customers with a little gift. Starbucks came up with a cool solution to show appreciation for your Twitter followers that takes a few seconds and is just $5 a pop. Enter - Tweet A Coffee.
How's it work?
- Go to this website: starbucks.com/tweet-a-coffee
- Link your Starbucks gift card to your Twitter account. Don't have a gift card, don't worry, you can get one there.
- Start your tweet with @tweetacoffee to @recipientshandle here. Then include a nice little message.
- Starbucks takes care of the rest & sends a $5 Starbucks Card eGift to them to use in stores.
- You will receive a receipt via email for each gift you send - easy accounting.
So simple, and a nice gift to receive (@iiabny if anyone needs someone to send one to - hehe).
How to use?
Could you use this with contesting via hashtags and retweets - sure. But, the best way to use it is just as a no-strings-attached thank you. No hoops, no gimmicks. Just determine how many you want to gift a month and reward a few followers just for being there.
*Note - Be sure to follow twitter.com/iiabny , you make just get a treat yourself :)
Do you know TED? No, not the neighbor or mailman, the incredible initiative to share fascinating insight from fascinating people. Yes, fascinating.
Let me use some of thier own words to describe who they are:
"TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader."
"TED conferences bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less)."
Videos are then served up on their website. Spend a little time exploring their NEW site (free) and the famous TED Talks. You no doubt be intrigued by what you find.
Here is a great talk from David Pogue: 10 top time-saving tech tips. The 5 minute talk includes great tips like:
- Use the space bar to scroll down a page. Hold the shift key and the space bar at the same time to scroll back up again.
- Tab between boxes on online forms. When there’s a pop-up menu to input details of your state, type the first letter of the state to scroll through options.
- To make web text larger, press control +. Mac users, make that “Command +.”
- Don’t bother with punctuation on your smartphone. Hit the space bar twice for a period and the next letter will be automatically capitalized.
- Hit the call button of your phone to redial the last person you spoke to. No need to go into your contacts.
Watch the talk Read these and other life hacks here
*Cool TED Talks are a good social share
We all can use some ideas for what to keep rolling out through our social media channels. Don't forget our content you can use section. Click here
I met Seth Godin several years ago (I'm sure only one of us remembers the other). He is profound. And you know what his message is - keep it simple. The obvious is elusive for most people these days, very few have the talent to identify it. But Seth has that ability.
Here is a keynote speech Seth gave for our good friends at Hubspot. If you have some time to view all or part of it - enjoy. If not, don't worry. We share Seth's principles often.
If you only have a few minutes, check out 17:41-20:07
There is a cool new tool on the Facebook block. It is the ability to create shared photo albums.
What are shared albums? Facebook says: "A shared album is an album that multiple people [up to 50] can upload photos to. When you make an album shared, you can add your friends as contributors. This allows them to add, view and edit photos in the album.
How do I create a shared album?"
They go on to explain how to create a share album: "To create a shared album:
Go to an album you've created
Click Make Shared Album in the top left corner
Choose contributors and select an audience
Contributors will be able to view and add photos to the album. It may also appear on their timeline."
All the full "how-to" from Facebook
Mashable lays out the details in this great story
We are so excited to launch our brand new website. When you have an incredible amount of information to offer, like we do, it can be difficult to organize it for ease of use and edit yourself down. That is the situation we found oursleves in with our old website. Good intentions of delivering the best information we could, made for a bit of a cumbersome experience. Today is a new day. A day we present this nicely organized website, with great content, all in a pretty new package.
This new website provides a new opportunity, the chance for us to share information every week through our blogs. As you may have noticed, mine is titled Digitial Marketing. Social media, websites, marketing, search - all the glorious things we need to figure out in this new digital age will be covered. I'll share insights and tips, links to cool things I come across "how-to" guides. The digital marketing world can actually be pretty fun, so I look forward to sharing it with you every week.
Have a fabulous week!
PS - Shout out to the entire IIABNY team for this great new site and special props go to Kacey Dawson for making it all happen.