People said social media marketing for business would be an enormous fad. A waste of time and energy, and if it did take off, it would be something to entertain the kids, but not much else.
Twenty years on however, social media for business has completely revolutionised how companies big and small tell their stories to
existing and new audiences. Advertising spend that was traditionally reserved for television commercials, radio tie-ins and visual graphics has shifted rapidly, dominating the market with social campaigns delivering entertaining video content, value offered lead magnets, and thought-provoking articles. All of it specifically designed to hook someone even mildly interested in a topic, and convert them to a fan, and then a customer.
With big business however, comes even bigger budgets. Companies are spending up large when it comes to creating the right message and offer. Dedicated FTE resource is set aside for social media management of customer service as well as brand monitoring. In some cases, specialised agencies are contracted to deliver out-of-hours support in the way an international call centre might have been. There is no question in the effect social media has had on operations and marketing promotions of business in this era.
But what about small business? If the corporate sector is throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at social media to meet a whole host of business challenges, what can small business owners do? Keeping up with the corporate Joneses is completely out of the question, so what’s the answer?
Have a social media presence
Getting started or reinvigorating social media efforts can feel tirelessly overwhelming for small businesses. Fortunately, the social media playground is for everyone. It is a valuable tool for business of any size and industry, irrespective of budget size. A small broker firm doesn’t need to have a presence of every media platform available, but it is wise to have the main ones nailed that match where its customers typically hang out.
And that is the salient point. Meet your ideal client where they are. For example, a general insurer broker’s client base is likely to be using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram at a push. LinkedIn is great for sharing your expertise and getting known for what you do to build up your profile.
But it makes little sense to invest time and money into platforms that won’t benefit a broker’s bottom line or help to blossom a client-broker relationship. Choose those platforms wisely. Take into account available time for maintaining a platform, and use-cases for each one, will help identify where to focus time and investment.
What to post
Having social media platforms sorted leads to a bigger test. What to post? How often, and for what purpose?
This is often the part where small business owners come unstuck. It can be tempting to use social channels to sell. Posting the latest deal or offer to draw in a cast of thousands on the hunt for a new insurance provider seems like a great idea. The hard-earned lesson many business owners have suffered through is that social media as a direct sales channel almost never works. People who are using social media as a place to connect with friends and family or share personal interest in causes and events are not in the market to be sold to and will actively refuse any attempts to do so.
Regardless of business size, posting about interesting company events, especially ones that link to a community or a cause are popular and tolerable to potential clients. But be careful; the old “business gets business and is happy about it” will attract precisely no one to engage with your business. So, unless your brokerage is signing work with a tremendous cause or business with a feel good story attached, leave it out of your content posting strategy.
What works every time in social media land for small business is posting content that delivers value to every-day people. What might be an entry level topic for an experienced broker is a value goldmine for the general public. And in the insurance industry this is an easy one. As an often-confusing topic, most people just want to make sure they are well covered in the event of loss. They want to know how to avoid a long fight to claim in what is usually a highly stressful time, or they need help navigating an insurance process.
Cutting through the thick and confusing fog of insurance is where a broker can shine a well-received guiding light.
One thing that has stayed constant in social media is its stance that it is a place for conversation. Focusing on engaging with people who visit your page, message you directly or comment on your posts is a top priority. Responding to messages to increase engagement and show that you have an active social media presence, will encourage people to get in touch with you. A page with unanswered questions, infrequent posts not only gives your firm a reputation you might not want, but is also a huge detractor from new people visiting that could convert to new clients.
What about advertising?
There used to be a time when advertising on social media platforms was an incredibly tricky experience. Not so anymore. Facebook is especially easy and offers amazing targeting tools for you to share your valuable content even further right down to someone who is actively looking for help with insurance.
And now that Facebook owns Instagram, it’s easy to use Facebook’s power editor tool to advertise in both places for very little investment. There are many tutorials online to learn how to use these powerful tools that make the most out of your advertising dollars.
Out of office, or office hours information
It’s no secret how busy brokers are, especially ones without support teams.
If you don’t have a lot of time it’s completely okay to let followers and people looking for your business know what to expect with an out of office or redirection message in your bio.
“Thanks for following us, we are not big Twitter/Facebook/Instagram users, but you’ll find us more regularly on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram between the hours of x and x or if you need us urgently, call us on xxx”
Lou Draper is a managing partner at Draper Cormack Group.
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