Harvard Business Review reports that 79% of businesses they surveyed are either already using social media or are planning to start using it. They use their social media profiles to:
- Promote their brand and products
- To study trends amongst their target audience
- Gather ideas from their target audience for new products/services
- Use their online audience for marketing research (online focus groups, interviews, etc.)
- Monitor customer reviews of their products/services
So, it's easy to see what the 21% of businesses who aren't using social media or even planning to use it are missing out on. But, maybe they believe they have all of these bases covered using other tools already. What's the worst that could happen from not participating in social media, then?
You're basically telling your customers and prospects that you don't want to hear what they have to say, nor do you care.
Your customers and prospects are talking about you daily on social media whether you realize it or not. Andy Beal, CEO of Trackur, said it well when he said, “In the absence of your own carefully-crafted online reputation, competitors, customers and detractors will fill the void.” It can be super beneficial for your customers and others to add to your online presence, but you don't necessarily want them taking the reigns on it. You want to build your online presence first, and then have others join in the conversation.
Here are a few social media sites you can get started with if you haven't already:
- Join LinkedIn. Here's some tips on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile once you have one, or check out this infographic about LinkedIn profiles.
- Sign up for Twitter. Once you've got a profile, start researching what consumers might have already said about you. Search your business or agency's name, search for your industry's keywords, and search some industry hashtags. Use Twitter's Advanced Search to find conversations that are most relevant to you: Twitter Advanced Search. For example, you can see people in your geographic area who are talking about #healthinsurance.
- Join Facebook. Facebook can be a great place for companies to converse with consumers, but it definitely is the most "personal" social media site. This is a great place to get in front of your prospects and clients with information about your agency. Also, speaking of prospects, Facebook has great ways to place ads that your target market will see; you can drill down to exactly who you want to reach.
- Google+ is an interesting social platform that is often forgotten about but should not be overlooked. When you post blog posts to Google+ for example, those articles can show up in reach results and lead people to your website who might not have otherwise ended up there. The biggest advantage of Google+ for insurance agencies is the local search results. Want to show up in the results when someone in your community searchs for "life and health insurance agencies"? Get on Google+ and you will be listed (along with all of your blog posts).
If you haven't already, get started with social media. It will help you maintain constant contact with your clients and prospects, help you stay on top of conversation about your business or agency and, overall, improve your image in the minds' of today's consumers who often research a business or agency online before the first contact.
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