With the growth of social media and the dominance of online businesses, building your brand online should be a part of any successful business model and strategy. Insurance isn’t a typically social business, but social media can change all of that and create a network of clients that wouldn’t be possible with more traditional print advertising or mailbox drops.
Using social media effectively means making sure you are not vesting all of your interests into one place as with newspaper or magazine ads. It creates a greater potential for visibility by putting your business at the fingertips of anyone with a laptop or a smartphone, and makes it possible to run a business at one end of the country with clients at the other.
The basics are a website, LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Instagram, and a mailing list. The beauty of running your business online is that you can create your content yourself and keep control of your vision for your brand, targeting the clients you most want to work with and making your business accessible to them in a range of ways.
It is important to remember that you should be using social media, and your website, to build a database of clients that aren’t tied to these sites should you ever lose access and potentially lose your client base - getting clients from all your social media and online channels to sign up to your mailing list is so important and can be as simple as a pop-up on your website, or a run of adds on Facebook.
Blogging on your website has numerous benefits, including driving potential clients to your site by improving your Google ranking with key SEO and as an easy way to give Google new content, and as a way to share your expertise with your clients. All successful business strategies involve giving back, and often giving your clients key advice without a direct sell can help build your relationship and create trust.
From your website you can push these blogs out as a newsletter to your mailing list, or as a post on Facebook or LinkedIn, giving you greater potential reach for your investment. For this reason it may be worthwhile outsourcing blogging or web content creation - if your have reasonable skill in this area it can be a good place to save your marketing spend and invest it elsewhere, but if your skill set lies elsewhere, outsourcing this part of your business can be a valuable investment to get your website really working for you. This will free you up to invest your time playing to your strengths and focusing on insurance.
Alysha Mackenzie, founder of Balance Advisors, has been working in insurance for more than 10 years, and with the introduction of social media she has seen a lot of changes in the industry over the past decade.
“Our main social media channels are Facebook and Instagram,” Mackenzie says, and confirms that while she has attended a couple of seminars about social media, most of the main online channels she uses are user friendly and make it easy for anyone to take control of their own online presence, handling all of the social media for her brokerage herself.
Paid Facebook and Instagram ads are simple to set up, but can be a bit “hit-or-miss” if you don’t target your audience correctly. There are a range of options from stand-alone ads to boosting existing posts, both with their own benefits, but you will likely find stand-alone Facebook ads have a greater potential to target your clients more effectively. Installing a Facebook pixel on your website is a simple way to help funnel your existing traffic between sites too.
But while social media is an excellent tool to reach small business owners, individuals, and families looking for cover and protection, Mackenzie says if you are targeting larger businesses and higher profile clients, you may not get what you need from social media. “There is definitely still a place for traditional media like print and magazine advertising - especially when you’re targeting larger businesses. If you solely rely on social media you’re really selling your business short, and missing out on potential clients that may not reach out to you on social media.”
Mackenzie’s target clients are people just like her; young Kiwi families, self employed small business owners, and individuals needing risk protection. She says technology and social media provide the tools to create a winder range of opportunities for creating a large client base, proven by her work with clients right across NZ - which wouldn’t be possible without technology and social media.
Building brand awareness online gave Mackenzie the perfect platform to create her own business, leaving a contracting position earlier this year to start Balance Advisors with business partner and fellow broker, Gareth Wallace. Starting her own business is something Mackenzie says wouldn’t have happened without the online presence she has been able to build over the years on social media, and the networks she has created.
Having an online business profile doesn’t mean everything has to be “professional” and “selling”. The beauty of social media is it makes it easy to inject your personality into your brand and oftentimes your best selling point is you. Taking time to share about personal wins - something Mackenzie does well and often - makes you more approachable, and helps potential clients build trust in you. Insurance isn’t always fun, but you can create more fun and lighthearted interactions by sharing snippets of your life outside of working hours.
In fact, a large number of Mackenzie’s clients have come to her because they have seen her on social media talking about fishing or her own struggles balancing being a business owner and having a family and can relate to her.
It can be a minefield so to keep it a simple as possible, these are the key areas you should focus on:
• Website - make sure it is working for you and not the other way around. Make sure all of your images are Google-friendly, that you have strong SEO, and that you make it easy for clients to sign up to your mailing list.
• LinkedIn - building your professional online profile needs networking, and LinkedIn is
• Facebook - you should be using business.facebook.com to build all of your content and advertising, and posting 2-3 times per week.
• Work ahead - use tools to plan and schedule your content where you can. Investing a couple of hours once a week, or once a month, will free up your time during the week and remove the pressure of coming up with content on the fly.
• Research - know what your competition are doing, know what your clients are looking for and where they are looking, and where
you need to place your business online.
• Outsource - play to your strengths and know what parts of your social media strategy you need to use an expert for.
• Mailing lists - you need to make sure you are tapping into your client base and making the most of the content you are creating
by sending it out to current and would-be clients regularly.
As with all channels there can be downsides to social media and things to be aware of like fake reviews or copycats, but the benefits of having an online presence far outweigh the risks, and if you get it right your business will reap the rewards.
And her advice to brokers just starting out or trying to build their online presence?
“Get some training and don’t think everything you share has to be Insurance based - people want to get to know you and build trust
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