What is social proof?
Have you ever seen a line outside a restaurant that is wrapped around the building and you wonder, why in the world are people standing there? And then it kind of makes you want to go stand in line to find out? That's one way to think of social proof.
Social proof says that people will do what others do assuming they're doing the right thing (standing in a riduculously long line outside a restaurant). You're telling yourelf there has to be a reason all of those people are willing to wait that long, so you will stand and wait too.
But what does this have to do with insurance agencies?
Testimonials and online reviews are virtual long lines outside your agency.
Positive testimonials and online reviews are just as important, if not more important, in the insurance world. After all, being an insurance agent means having a close relationship with your clients (or, at least, it should!). Thankfully, websites, blogs and social media have made social proof an easy tool for marketing your agency. The Buffer blog lays out 5 kinds of social proof. I'll sum them up here & let you know which I think would be most useful for insurance agents/agencies:
- Expert social proof. This is where someone well known in your industry shares your content, writes a guest blog for you, retweets your content, etc. For an insurance agent, this could mean getting a testimonial from a well-known client or having a well-known agency/agent promote you or your agency.
- Celebrity social proof. This is self-explanatory: a celebrity endorses you. This can be tricky for insurance agents. You most likely have a very wide customer base when it comes to values and thoughts on celebrities. One person can absolutely love a certain celebrity while another hates him/her, so you want to be careful with this one.
- User social proof. This is where a brand actually asks its customers to post reviews and pictures to social media about their products. For an agent or agency, the equivalent might be asking your clients to give you specifics on where your service helped them directly. Then, with their permission, you could share that story. However, insurance involves people's personal lives, so you probably won't get a ton of these. BUT, they can be very powerful, like those unfortunate stories you read about when tragedy hits and the family didn't have the necessary coverage. Those stories can push people to action.
- "Wisdom of the crowds" social proof. This one probably relates most closely to the long line at the restaurant example I gave you. This is when you see those subscribe buttons that tell you 10,000 of your peers have already signed up, giving you incentive to do so as well. I think an agency could make use of this (if they do have a lot of clients) by showing off that number somewhere on their website. Something like: "We've helped 325 families feel confident knowing they're covered." That will show prospects that you're successful helping many people and can help them with their needs.
- "Wisdom of your friends" social proof. This is where companies give rewards for referring them to their friends. Sound familiar? Referrals! This one hits home with agents, and it will continue to be a major part of their business. Agents and agencies should always be researching ways to reward or compensate their current clients for referring them.
So, which ones do I think are most important for insurance agents/agencies?
I think agents/agencies should concentrate on #5 first. You're already in the referral game, and those referrals tend to turn into long-term clients. So, you should be doing all you can to continuously improve this process.
Next, I think you should take a look at #3. I think user social proof is important because agents and agencies should always be looking for feedback, not only to promote the positive testimonials, but to improve their service. Often, your clients will give you permission to share this feedback in the form of testimonials on your website.
I think the last three are still important for any agent or agency to utilize, but they are more tactical. Getting an expert to share a blog post of yours or deciding to post the number of clients you serve are both one-time actions, though they can yield large results. So, keep these in mind when you're looking to increase your prospect list, but always be focusing on referrals and obtaining feedback from your clients for some user social proof.
To take it a step further, check out this on-demand webinar presented by referrals experts, Rocket Referrals, discussing how to collect testimonials and what you can do with them: