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7 social media tips for insurance pros

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Many insurance professionals initially perceived social media as a risky new channel due to the complications of regulatory requirements on communications with the public and advertising. That said, the benefits of going social, allowing agents to go where their customers are and reaching the right audience at the right moment, have proven to far outweigh the risks.

LIMRA, the world’s largest association of life insurance and financial services companies, recently found that 93% of life insurance companies had social media programs in place last year. That’s up 55% from the number of companies managing social media in 2010, speaking volumes about where the industry is going. But getting on social media for such professionals was just phase one.   

Increasingly, financial firms are also seeing the benefits of being on social media for business and are now actually encouraging their professionals to use social—but always in a compliant way. Agents and advisors are becoming more comfortable building their social presence with the intent of growing business instead of just connecting friends.

Still, the personal element unique to social networking remains important. Working with agents and advisors, we know that content that represents not just their business, but who the agent is, proves important for building relationships and ultimately business through social media.

As such, we expect to see a big increase in user-generated posts as agents and advisors spend more time reflecting on outside content and what it means for customers as well as posting their own thoughts and comments. In short, we’ll see a lot more personality.

Some may still feel unease weighing the prospect of more freedom of expression against potentially crossing a regulatory line. Social is still relatively a new territory for firms. To help navigate, here are my top tips for cultivating a dynamic feed while staying within the bounds of compliance:

  1. Think first. Sounds obvious, right? But it’s surprisingly easy to jump the gun when posting to social media. Before posting, always consider a few questions: Who does your comment serve? What will it imply? Could it be considered misleading or look like you’re adopting somebody else’s point of view? Why are you “liking” or retweeting something at all? While you don’t want to over-analyze posts to the point of never participating, you should make sure that your social activity is portraying you and your business in a positive light.

  2. Make it authentic. Clients want to understand who you are as a real person. Do you have kids? Are you dealing with a move? How is your situation like their own? Basically, can they relate to you? Customers don’t want to read every thought that pops into your head, but they do want to understand how you see the world to know if it is compatible with their own needs and values.

  3. Know your corporate brand: You’ve likely been through training. You know how to market yourself at events, through email, and in face-to-face meetings. Now you just need to realize that social media is merely an extension of that. If your brand is all about family, don’t post tales (even cautionary ones) about your big night out. Stay professional and on-brand.

  4. Remember why regulations matter. Because insurance is a highly personal business, regulations largely exist to protect consumers. They are common sense guidelines, not rules designed to trip you up. Compliance shouldn’t hinder you from posting substantive content that is relevant to your audience; in fact, it may actually help you focus on what matters. Think “do no harm.”

  5. Ask questions when in doubt. Corporate is not the enemy when it comes to social. If you want to post something to Facebook but are concerned about it for any reason, pause before you post and send it to your compliance or supervision team for review. New compliance-friendly technologies, including Hearsay Social, are making the process of posting approved content faster and easier than ever before. Get to know your supervision team so you’re not afraid to seek their guidance. If the mere thought of sending something to the compliance team makes you sweat, that’s a warning sign. Don’t move forward with the post.

  6. Made a mistake? Fix it proactively. Things go wrong from time to time. Maybe you didn’t take that moment to think before posting or maybe you unintentionally let something slip out, resulting in unintended consequences. Don’t run from it. Contact corporate right away and seek guidance since it may have regulatory implications.

  7. It gets easier with time. You might not remember your very first post on Twitter or Facebook, but you probably will remember the first fear of no one “liking” what you had to share. Who would see it? How would they respond? Would you gain followers? It’s electrifying and terrifying at once. As with anything, the more you use social media and see what resonates with customers, the easier it becomes to develop a truly authentic, compliant social presence. Soon, displaying your professional expertise will be as second-nature and routine as checking your email or returning a phone call.

The first phase of social was all about bringing agents online, giving them a faster, easier, better way to reach customers. This next phase is more about the actual connection, dramatically impacting the way agents and their clients interact. While the transition to posting more original content might initially seem difficult to regulate, manage and navigate, the subsequent payoff will be substantial — not only for the business but for more informed policyholders as well.

Bring on the next iteration of social business!