Last week, we looked at several general ideas about social media that can help agents start off on the right foot, including these five key selling points:
- Social media is excellent for soft-sell marketing
- It’s a tool that naturally combines traditional business and personal environments
- It’s incredibly important for building online clout
- It’s a great way to build and maintain client relationships
- Social media becomes more valuable the older you are
This week, I want to introduce additional online tools that will help you target your market. Market research is essential to selling any product, and it is even more valuable in the mammoth online market. Before investing a significant amount of time and energy into social media, it pays to know where your customers are, so that you can choose which social environment will give you the greatest return. These three steps will set you up for success.
1. Target your market with tools that analyze consumers.
For a long time, companies like Nielsen controlled market research, charging large companies a lot of money for their information. Today, the world of marketing is far more egalitarian. Even small insurance agencies can use a variety of cheap and inexpensive tools to find customers. It’s imperative to know if your customers use email, Facebook or Twitter before spending hours establishing and using social media accounts.
The following tools will target your market online:
Social Mention: Social Mention tracks social media trends in real time. Simply type in a word or two for analysis and tell it to search. The advantage of Social Mention is that it allows you to track not only Facebook and Twitter activity, but also blogs, microblogs, networks, comments, news and images. A broader search like this can help a company design and allocate resources far beyond social media.
Kurrently.com:Kurrently searches Facebook and Twitter, the two largest social networks. The advantage to Kurrently is quick comparative analysis:It searches in real time. The disadvantage is that this tool does not handle complex word searches well. However, Kurrently is an excellent tool for starting social media analysis. It is simple to use and easy to interpret.
HowSociable: How Sociable tracks online “brand magnitude.” In other words, it measures how often certain words and search terms show up in different places on the web. This tool is designed to track names and brands, and it is helpful for gauging how and where certain insurance products or companies are broadcasting themselves on the Web.
2. Upgrade your knowledge with the right services. Services are tools plus a lot more. These are usually fairly inexpensive at the lowest level, rather than free.
eCairn: eCairn is exceptional at helping a business research their unique social media niche, with services, such as blogs and RSS feeds, that help to identify sources and nail down specific demographics.
socialbakers.com: Socialbakers is filled with statistics about all the large social media sites, and also offers relevant articles on using social media. The service helps analyze and compare existing social media pages. For example, if a company has many offices, socialbakers makes it easy to see which pages are the most successful and why.
Alterian SM2: Alterian is one of the most respected names in the online marketing business. They offer everything from reports to web content management tools to e-books that help their customers learn how to market online effectively. Their main products include web content management, social media marketing, email marketing and engagement marketing/ analytics.
Radian6.com: Like Alterian, Radian6 has a large variety of services and tools available for understanding, building and analyzing social media on the web. Radian6 also has a large number of free resources. These are all related to selling their products, but for anyone new to online marketing it’s a good place to start.
3. Gain a deeper understanding of your client base The tools and services above are essential for understanding the surface of your client base. However, the best and deepest search on the Web is still Google Search. Though time-consuming, a comprehensive search on Google will produce even more detailed results than any of the tools above. Combining several tools (say, Google Search and Kurrently) should leave you with an excellent idea of how your current clients participate in social media, and where potential clients might be.
For example, suppose an agent in the state of Michigan wants to increase her LTCI client base. She knows that many of her current clients enjoy boating and going to Florida during the cold winters.
To start her research process, she visits Kurrently.com. Her first search is: “long-term care insurance.” Through this search we see a fairly healthy distribution on both Twitter and Facebook.
Clicking on the posts reveals ages and faces, which helps to align the marketing plan closer to the target audience. We also see the sentiment of people toward different products and the industry as a whole. In this particular instance, the search shows that daughters of older parents are a large demographic that is very interested in LTCI. This makes a great deal of sense because these are the individuals who will be on the front line of eldercare. They, on their parents’ behalf, would be a group to target with social media. We follow this with a search on Kurrently for “golfing in Florida,” to see if what we know about our current client base is a trend.
In this particular Kurrently search, there isn’t anything especially relevant. If our search were trending, however, we would come away with a valuable topic for blogs, tweets, and Facebook activity, which would appeal directly to our target audience.
Kurrently is a real time tool. To use it and the others most effectively, it is best to log your results and impressions and then search several more times. If the tools don’t tell you enough at the end of your search, finish up with a Google Search to nail down other demographic details. Generally, this is an easy, quick and inexpensive process and it will reveal valuable insight into any insurance market or demographic. Without using these tools, you could spend an enormous amount of time and money on social media with very little return. The right tools give agents ways to access new clients and cement relationships with older ones.