A few insurance points you need when planning your travels – http://tinyurl.com/lpl222
Confused about annuities? Send me a DM, I’ll explain.
Is it too late to consider life insurance? Is it important to provide? http://bit.ly/hBX7Z
All of these short messages are examples of recent status updates, or “tweets,” made on the social networking site Twitter. Agents just like you around the country are using the site to communicate with clients, prospects, and other agents, and some are even writing policies as a result of their efforts.
So what, exactly, is Twitter? And how can you use it to enhance your practice?
Twitter is a Web site that allows you to create short, 140-character messages and send them out to your followers, from either your computer or your cell phone. You can also upload a picture and create a small biography, including a link to your homepage. It’s essentially an RSS feed for people’s lives, and it’s one of the fastest-growing social networking sites available.
Krista Farmer, director of public relations for HometownQuotes, took her time getting acquainted with the Web site before she began tweeting in earnest.
“I was using Twitter personally, and at first, I was so confused,” she said. “It really took me about six months to figure out how I wanted to use it. Then I saw companies on it, and I began monitoring them to see what kinds of messages they were using and the types of things they were tweeting about.”
From there, she obtained the support of her company to put HometownQuotes on Twitter. She uses the page to tweet insurance-related news updates, follow key industry players, and keep her fingers on the pulse of the industry. Plus, it’s allowed her to create a dialogue with many of her customers, as she responds to their tweets — and they respond back.
“It can be a great way to open up communication and establish relationships with people all over the country,” she said.
What to tweet
Once you establish your profile, you’ll probably want to start creating tweets right away. But, of course, you have to decide what you want to tweet first.
Tom Daly, managing principal at Hartwig Moss Benefits, a group health employee benefits firm, said that he watches what he tweets and only shares information that he thinks other people will care about.
“I find myself always stumbling upon relevant news to be passed around, and Twitter is a very easy and accepted tool to do that,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a more efficient way to pump out news than through Twitter.”
Never has that been more apparent than recently, as Twitter has been heralded as the new go-to media source. In fact, even CNN can’t keep up with Twitter — when Iranian protests made headlines, it was the social media Web site, not the news giant, that kept the world updated on what was going on.
Farmer thinks that what you tweet is key to how others see you, both on Twitter and in real life.
“If you want to position yourself as the best insurance expert in your area, tweet articles about new insurance laws, or articles about ways to keep healthy and keep your premiums down,” she said.
“Anything you can provide to the consumer to help them make an informed decision is just going to reflect on the consumer that you are an expert. Don’t go on there and tweet about what you had for lunch, because no one cares.”
If you do want to keep your tweets more personal, Twitter offers an option of protecting your updates.
Farmer suggested doing that if you have any intention of including information that is even remotely personal or unprofessional, although she ultimately recommended that you keep separate Twitter accounts for your personal and professional lives.