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In the insurance business, trust is absolutely essential. Every agent knows this. What you may not know is that one client’s earned trust can be transferred to another person via social media. It’s the Web equivalent of saying to a friend, “I have a super insurance agent and I would highly recommend him/her.” Once a relationship is established with one person, they get to know and trust you. However, their Internet friends don’t “know” you yet beyond the basic recommendation, which is why social media profiles are so important. The profile is the first step in establishing trust with prospective clients.

In fact, the profile is so important that I am going to write two articles about it. Here, I’ll give the basics of setting up business profiles effectively and quickly. Next week, I’ll go into further detail about each section of the profile.

Creating your account

Good news: it’s possible to sign up for several social media accounts at once. In my last article I explained how to use tools to determine your target insurance market and find where your customers are most likely to exist across various social media platforms. Once you know which platforms are most relevant for your business, the next step is pretty clear: sign up. These tools can help:

Namechk: Checks across 159 social platforms for your name, then lets you export the information. It is helpful for determining what name to use. (Remember: Try to use one name consistently across platforms to strengthen your branding.)

Check User Names: Checks 300 social engines. There isn’t an export button with this tool, although selecting the button for their “premium services” will take you to their parent company, Knowem.

Knowem: Knowem lets you sign up for 300 social media services at once. Because almost all social media sites have been programmed to only accept real people (not simply computer-generated forms), signing up for each and every service can be quite laborious. For a fee, Knowem will do this for you. After creating just a few profiles, the fee may seem like a good idea. Additionally, Knowem is a good service because it doesn’t offshore the work and, by extension, your information.

The importance of keywords

To get the most out of your social media accounts, it is very important to create a list of keywords to incorporate into your profile. If you have already set up your profile, I suggest you review it once your list is in place and make sure that the right keywords are incorporated.

Keywords are words that are highly search-friendly. They are extremely important because they tell Google, Bing, Yahoo and local search engines what you do and who you are. These words need to be repeated throughout your profile so that search engines will know to pull you up in a general search.

For example, suppose I’m a client looking to buy health insurance in Miami. “Health insurance” and “Miami” are both keywords. Your name is also a keyword, especially if it is unique. However, not all keywords will immediately pull up your information on the first page of a search.

Case in point: If I search my own name (Lisa Pluth), my photo website doesn’t come up, because the site is still new and hasn’t yet been indexed by Google. To confound matters, there is another woman in Minnesota who writes children’s literature with exactly the same name: Lisa Pluth. Either a search engine or a human being could easily get confused searching for my name.

One way to clarify problems like this and get better search results is to use long-tail keywords. A long-tail keyword is simply a more specific cluster of words, and it can return amazing results. This is why: When a person is looking for insurance, they are often replacing a current policy. Maybe they have a Northwest Mutual term life insurance policy and they are looking for a better deal. They want to know about whole life. When they search, they might type in “term life insurance vs. whole life insurance,” or “types of whole life insurance.” If that long-tail word is in your profile, you are likely to get better results. For example, your profile might read: “I specialize in many types of whole life insurance. Let me educate you and your family about term life insurance vs. whole life insurance.” 

Placing keywords

The placement of keywords is also critical, as search engines generally read just the first 60 characters in each section. Here are some tips for placing keywords effectively.

  • Place keywords in headings, titles and in the first sentence whenever possible.
  • Use colons to separate terms. This allows the use of verbs and adjectives that can be very searchable. For example: “Julie Smith: Whole Life Insurance Specialist”
  • Write your profile, then revise it using your keyword list. Check the placement to be sure keywords are in the first 60 characters by highlighting the text, then going to “tools” and clicking on “word count.” The count to pay attention to is “characters with spaces.”

Using the right keywords can increase the value of your social media activity by 20-40%. However, it is critical that you write for people first. Social media is the softest of sells. To cultivate trust, keyword placement must look natural and informative. Moreover, Google has placed an algorithm into search to prevent the manipulation of keywords, so don’t overdue it!

Completing your profile

One final tip: filling out your profile completely is essential. It is tempting to skip a section or two and move on to the next social media account, but don’t do it! Data shows that profiles are where search engines go first to retrieve social media information, so it’s important that yours is complete and up-to-date.

To get the most out of your social media investment, you will want to review and analyze your account data to improve efficiency. With 20 active social media platforms, this is impossible without an entire social media department — unless you use take advantage of the online tools available.