Social Selling vs. Social Branding: What Agents Need To Know

Social Selling Vs. Social Branding: What Agents Need To Know

Social Media in the Insurance Industry

Social media isn’t a new thing anymore, but it’s still a bit foreign to a lot of insurance agencies. If this is your agency, it’s more important than ever to get going with social media.

Why? V12DATA reports: “In one month, there were 3.7 million tweets about insurance and 23,401 social leads with purchase intent.”

We already know that the majority of purchase decisions (73% based on some of the latest research) for anything begin online, and social media is now a part of this. So, you best show up where your potential clients are looking.

This is especially crucial for insurance agencies, because 97% of consumers aged 18-34 read online reviews to judge a local business.”

You may be asking, which social profiles should I be on? There’s so many out there, so it can definitely be confusing.

It sounds too obvious, but you just need to be where your audience is. And, unfortunately, there isn’t always an easy way to figure that out. A lot of social media is trial and error. However, there are some things we already know that might help you out.

Social Profiles: LinkedIn, Facebook, & Twitter

These are the three we typically recommend insurance agencies start out with as a baseline. Why? First, they are some of the main players in the social media world that many people, in general, have profiles on.

Seventy-nine percent of American adults have a Facebook profile—24% have Twitter and 29% have LinkedIn.

Each of these has a bit different use for your agency.

LinkedIn is one that, likely, most insurance agents have. Not near as many insurance agencies have their own page, though. The common misconception is that LinkedIn is only for networking when you’re looking for a new position, but it’s evolved into much more than that.

In fact, LinkedIn now has what they call Sales Navigator that salespeople can use to target and engage with prospects. It’s just another tool to have in your corner to up your game as an agent.

We recommend Facebook as a for sure, you need to have as an insurance agent. You are probably on it personally, but your agency needs its own page, too.

When people are searching online for a product, service, or business, Facebook pages show up pretty high in the rankings. This along with your website showing in the rankings provides credibility for the searcher and gives them an easy way to contact you.

Not to mention, Facebook is a pretty personal platform. It’s a great way to reach your potential clients and to engage with your current ones. It’s also an easy way to share general information about your agency.

Twitter is kind of hit and miss. It’s definitely an area you can spread your content, but the engagement might be lower considering your audiences’ timelines likely fill quickly. You’ll have to post more often on Twitter for this reason. Agencies can definitely make use of Twitter to learn about what their audience cares about, though. Using the search function, you could search things like “life insurance” or “health insurance” to see what kind of content is out there and what types of questions your audience might have.

Even though we recommend these three, it’s best to learn about the demographics on each platform for yourself so you can identify if your audience is there or not. Here’s a great resource for that from Sprout Social: Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy.

To learn more about which social profiles you as an agent and/or your agency should be on, check out our eBook: Social Media for the Insurance Agent.

Social Selling vs. Social Branding

So now that you have a good idea of which networks you should be participating in, your next logical question would be “what should I do with these profiles?”

Nearly every business on social media uses it to market their products and services; in other words, they’re spreading their brand. But, some companies take it a step further and use social media to actually sell their products and services. So, what’s the difference between the two?

This blog from trap!t explains as follows:

Social Media Marketing and Social Selling Trap!t blog

Image credit: trap!t

Based on their explanation, in the insurance world, social media marketing would be your agency itself delivering content and updates via social profiles; social selling would be each agent using their own profiles to sell their services to others.

However, I don’t think it’s quite this simple—especially in the insurance world. I don’t think many agents want to use their own Facebook profile to blast all of their friends with promotional stuff about their agencies, but I also don’t think they should rely solely on their agency to do all of the social media marketing. I think a balance can be found.

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of social selling, in general.

Pros of Social Selling

  • You have the opportunity to put your value proposition as an agent out there on every avenue possible (in addition to your agency’s website and their social media profiles).
  • Potential buyers already research products and services on social sites; you’re there when they’re ready. In fact, Hootsuite points out, “customers are, on average, 57 percent of the way through the purchase process before they ever engage with a sales professional.” For those in group business: “75 percent of B2B buyers and 84 percent of executives use contacts and information from social networks as part of their purchase process”
  • You’ll get to know your potential leads on a more personal level—31% of salespeople said social tools helped them build a more personal relationship with leads.
  • Potential buyers are willing to talk to you via social. In fact, “92% of B2B buyers are willing to engage with a sales professional who is a known industry thought leader.”
  • 90% of the top salespeople use social media to sell; what works for them could work for you!
  • There is a HUGE potential for local businesses & advertising on social media. For instance, Facebook has something called Local Awareness Ads. These are an easy way to reach people close in location to your agency; plus, Facebook is very good at helping you identify potential leads by identifying your target audience (see next bullet).
  • Facebook can help you grow your lead base by helping you find a “lookalike audience” based on your current leads. You’re able to filter these geographically and demographically to be super specific, if you’d like.

Overall, there’s a plethora of reasons to “sell” on social. And countless ways to do it. It’s really not about just constantly pushing your product or service in the faces of your audience, as we’ll discuss more in depth here in a minute.

Let’s take a look at some of the cons of social selling.

Cons of Social Selling

  • First and foremost, you might feel like you’re being “pushy” if you haven’t been using social media in this way before. Many agents/agencies are nervous that they’ll anger their following by being promotional in any way, and that’s a valid concern. But we’ll talk about how to avoid that.
  • There’s some serious competition out there. You might be nervous that your messages will just be lost in the noise.
  • You may not know how to word your promotional posts so as to not come off as a sleazy salesperson, so you don’t want to attempt it at all.
  • You might lose followers of people who aren’t interested in your product or service
  • Your conversion rate might not be as high as you’d like. This is mostly due to the fact that social selling is more of a relationship nurturing tactic. More on that later! (Remember that conversion rate isn’t always calculated based on actual sales of policies; it’s based on whatever you want your prospect to do from that ad or social media post)
  • It can be difficult to calculate ROI for social media, especially if you aren’t running actual ads that you’re spending money on.

A lot of these cons you’ll notice resemble fears. Fear that you’ll say the wrong thing, fear that your posts or ads won’t work, fear of changing the way you’re doing things. And those are completely valid fears; I think all businesses have them.

However, there are ways you can overcome those fears and successfully sell on social media.

Successfully Selling on Social Media

We mentioned that social media is a bit of trial and error. Or a lot of trial and error. Lucky for you, though, there are a couple tried and true methods out there that we’ll let you in on.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Gary Vaynerchuk is the CEO and Founder of VaynerMedia, a digital marketing and social media agency with Fortune 500 clients. He has extensive experience growing brands, having grown his family’s business from 4 to 60MM in sales through the creation of WineLibrary.

Gary describes his Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook method:

For those who may not be familiar, my entire business philosophy pretty much revolves around the jab jab jab right hook method. Jabs are the value you provide your customers with: the content you put out, the good things you do to convey your appreciation. And the right hook is the ask: it’s when you go in for the sale, ask for a subscribe, ask for a donation.

Using this method, your agency would post three value-adding items like answering questions, offering resources (think webinars, eBooks, etc.), and other useful items your audience can learn from. Think of the questions you get often from clients; you could create resources around those and post those on social media. Value!

For example, New Horizons Insurance Marketing an IMO/FMO with expertise in the senior market. So, their target audience is agents, and here they are providing value to agents by offering educational content:

After some posts (Jabs) similar to this, your agency would post an ask, as Gary describes. This is where you could present yourself/your agency in a promotional light. It doesn’t have to be super “salesy”. It could be as simple as posting a testimonial.

For example, we at AgencyBloc like to post video testimonials so potential leads can see how other agencies use our system:

For the health insurance agencies out there, you also have certain times where promotional posts would be especially helpful, like leading up to and during Open Enrollment. If you have a contact form on your website or an online scheduling tool (kudos to you, if you do!), you could post the links to those with a simple message along the lines of “We can help you in your search! Pick a time to chat with us that works best for you.”

It’s all about balance: offering educational content and advice before asking for anything from your audience. Gary makes a great point in a blog about his Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook method:

Putting out great content, sending baskets of fruit, whatever your jab is, it doesn’t entitle you to land the right hook. It just allows you to have the audacity to ask. You have to earn the right to ask people for a sale.

Basically, this method is a guideline to help you stay accountable for using social media in the right way; as we said earlier, in a nurturing way. It’s always going to be a little bit of trial and error, but this guideline will surely help.

The 4-1-1 Social Media Rule

This rule gets a bit more specific on the kind of content to share on social media. The rule says that for every 4 pieces of new content (either your own educational content or sharing others’), you should re-share (retweet, etc.) 1 piece of others’ content, and 1 self-serving post (your “selling” post).
We created an infographic a while back describing this rule for agents. Here’s a snippet of that:

4-1-1 Social Media Rule

Image: AgencyBloc

So, when they say re-sharing others’ content, they mean that you’re actually posting their link via your social media profiles. Re-Tweeting (or using the “Share” button on Facebook) is the quick share from others’ social media profiles. Be sure that when you share others’ content on your social profiles, you give them credit by tagging them and/or mentioning them.

The 4-1-1 rule is another easy guideline to learn from on when it might be appropriate to post a self-serving or “selling” post. Again, it’ll be different for every agency but it’s at least a starting point.

And that’s the main idea of this entire blog. When done correctly, self-serving posts (asks, “salesy” posts, whatever you call them) don’t have to put off a bad vibe, as you might fear. The more you do it, the more those fears described above will subside.

Tools to Succeed on Social Media

We know that the last thing insurance agents or agency owners have is spare time; but, on the other hand, social media requires time and resources. So, what can you do?

Buffer

Enter Buffer. Buffer is a desktop and mobile app that allows you to schedule social media posts across multiple platforms, analyze the results of the posts, and even queue up others’ content via RSS feeds that you may want to share.

Buffer saves you time and resources, especially for agencies that don’t have a dedicated social media marketer. What some agencies do is block out an hour on a morning or afternoon during the week that’s typically a little slower to schedule their posts for the week. Scheduling a post looks like this:

AgencyBloc Buffer Post

Image: AgencyBloc’s Buffer Account

You can use Buffer to schedule on all of your social media profiles in one spot. You can always edit them or delete scheduled posts before they send, as well.

Buffer has a free plan that allows you to schedule up to 10 posts per profile. The next upgrade after that to schedule more posts is $10/mo.

To learn more about Buffer, check out our blog: No Time For Social Media? Use This Tool to Schedule Posts.

Hootsuite

I’ll admit I don’t know as much about Hootsuite as I do about Buffer simply because we don’t use it. We use Buffer at AgencyBloc. However, it appears to have more monitoring/listening tools than Buffer does. It also appears to be more of a team tool where you can collaborate a bit more with others if you have more than one person scheduling posts for you.

Hootsuite has scheduling and gathering of others’ content as Buffer does, but Hootsuite is possibly built better for whole social media marketing teams or for those hoping to gather a bit more insight about their performance. Again, I haven’t personally used it, so I can’t say for sure.

Google Alerts

This isn’t just for social media, but it’s so important. Use Google Alerts to be updated every time someone mentions your agency or you as an agent on the web. You can even type in keywords that pertain to your business to “listen” on the web for those as well. You simply enter your email address, and Google will alert you when something comes up.

After all, you want to respond to negative remarks immediately and know about your promoters right away so you can thank them, right?

Neil Patel

Neil Patel’s blog is an extremely valuable source of educational content on all things digital marketing, including social media. It’s important to stay current on trends of what’s working for others, what you should be avoiding, and general best practices.

A good place to start is with his blog, Social Media Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide. Although this isn’t insurance industry specific, it’s still a great resource to take notes from. He walks through the various social platforms and describes what content does best on which.

Get to it!

So there you have it. Hopefully you gathered some good insight and actionable items from this blog to get started with your own social media branding and selling.

If you take anything from this blog, take this: social branding and social selling don’t have to be one or the other. It’s about striking the right balance.

Using methods like Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and the 4-1-1 Rule as guidelines on getting started with social selling, you can overcome the fears of putting yourself and your agency out there in a promotional light.

Plus, using the right tools to help you execute is crucial. There’s nothing worse than going to a social profile only to see that their last post was 2 months ago. If you want to get anything out of your social profiles, you have to use them regularly.

Lastly, remember that conversion rates may not be as high as your other methods of selling, and calculating ROI on using social media can be difficult. However, that’s no reason to not use it. Agencies that are excelling on social media have no doubt had some trial and error and have been using it for several years now. There’s no shortcut to success, but we hope you’ve gathered some methods and tools from this blog to get started.

Social Media for Insurance Agencies

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Kelsey Rosauer

By Kelsey Rosauer on November 1, 2017 in Online Marketing

Kelsey is the Marketing Brand Specialist at AgencyBloc. She plans and creates educational resources to help our customers organize, automate & grow their insurance agency. Favorite quote: "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it." —Charles R. Swindoll  More articles

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