Thoughts, real-world observations, and anonymous examples – good and bad – regarding the use of Web/Social/Mobile technology in the insurance industry. Follow Mike Wise, President WebWisedom LLC, for the latest in Social Technologies.
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All right. I’m going to let out a big secret. Ya’ ready?
The incredible thing for a sales person, really anyone, in the era of Social Tech is that people are sharing a close-up picture of their face in their Social Profiles. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter – they all feature a headshot. Look beyond the surface. It’s stunning, amazing, and helpful if you know what to look for.
I can’t believe I just shared one of my best secrets.
That’s all I’m gunna say.
Happy to answer questions and share more insights if prompted. Better yet: Come to one of my Boot Camps. That alone is worth the price of admission.
OK, I haven’t used that line yet and I’ve been blogging for 7 years. Hey, everyone else uses it on me!…
Btw, “LinkedIn currently has more than 175 million members, with 50 million of those members joining the service in just the past year alone. To put that growth in perspective, in 2009, LinkedIn had just 32 million people.” – Mashable
I also read recently that the Social Web has reduced the classic “Six Degrees of Separation” to 4 (Can’t find the reference off-hand.)
In fact, I’d be curious what others have to say on the whole thing. Please Comment. Thanks in advance.
(Side note: I’d be curious to know if insurance companies and agencies are updating their internal Social Tech policies to accommodate this new feature.)
This is a really good article on the feature. Good Comments there as well.
The more I watch, study, learn, and interact with others on the Social Web, the more convinced I am that Social Technology is a Game-Changer in business. Now I know that some of you will say, “Well, of course you do, Mike. That’s your business. You’ve got a vested interest in saying that…” Yes, that’s a true statement. I AM driving revenue for my little enterprise. But a statement like that is yet another example of very simplistic and dismissive brush-off’s that executives and business leaders at all levels are making – one that completely misses the point of emphasis. A few more:
Let me get right to the point of how I’m seeing Social Tech accomplish business goals. The following is a VERY brief list of 12 undeniable ways smart companies are leveraging Social Tech. Remember that, as I say in Boot Camps and Keynotes, Social Tech boils down to this statement: “The goal is to 1. build your Social Networks through which you can 2. share Social Media and thereby 3. amplify your Social Relevance and influence.” In other words, build your connections, develop and share helpful stuff, and drive your business objectives, whatever they may be. Just like you can’t mail people stuff without mailing addresses, you can’t call people without phone numbers, you can’t email without email addresses, you can’t reach people via the Social web until you make the connections. And with ALL of them you have to have a solid , meaningful, and compelling message. And the holy grail is word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations that amplify your efforts. Pretty basic stuff. Social Tech is just making it a whole lot easier – and trackable.
1. Recruiting – Linkedin is so incredibly powerful, even the novice is finding utility with it. If you know how to get up to 4th and 5th gear in the system, holy cow! And that’s just one tool, not to mention others like Twitter and hashtags, Online Reputation Management, Viral Video’s, e-Word of Mouth, and more.
2. Information Gathering and Education – Who hasn’t used Google to feed their brain on some topic? Well, the same concepts apply to Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, RSS, and a host of other tools that can be positioned to feed your brain on any topic you want – on an automated basis. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best kept secrets of Social Tech savants – and will be the key differentiating skill for employees in the years ahead.
3. Customer Service – Many, many smart companies are using Twitter and Facebook as customer service channels. Why? The vast majority of Americans are using Social Tech at some level. And they often use it to solve routine problems – as efficiently as possible. That’s a big reason why they are following their brands and business partners across the Social web. FAQ’s?? OK. But at the same time as your customer service rep sees the tweet, the crowd also sees it, and maybe has had the same question and already has the answer. And this concept will only grow.
4. Relationship Management and Nurturing – Man, once you get someone on board, don’t you want to keep them there? Of course. So how do you do that while at the same time getting more people on board – all as efficiently as possible while keeping overhead low? Create reusable, sharable content and make it easy for your fans to share it with their networks. Create useful content – stuff that answers questions, expands the utility of your gear or services – blog posts like this, video tutorials and aids, in-depth e-Books, real-time and archived Webinars, Tweet-ups, infographics that educate, inspire, and otherwise communicate. People want to business with people that help them, not just sell them.
5. Sales – The Social Web was practically MADE for sales people. Man, if you’re in sales and you don’t know how to leverage Linkedin yet for warm referrals, just like you might at an industry conference or networking event, get on Google and start feeding your brain. Social Tech can feed the pipeline, shrink sales cycles, improve close ratios and competitive advantage, and of course generate referrals to feed the pipeline. If you do it right, it’s Revenue on Demand, no matter what business you’re in.
6. Marketing – Inbound marketing to drive leads is where it’s at. I’ve got one word on that – HubSpot. Beyond that, Social Tech helps enterprise marketers with Reputation Management, Organizational Voice, Advertising, Public Relations. How many times have you Google’d an unfamiliar person, brand, or product that you needed to know more about? Every day is a common answer? So what makes you think that people aren’t doing it WITH YOU??? Don’t you think it’s thus kind of important to have a powerful presence across the various Social Channels?
7. Getting things done – Crowdsourcing is simply a huge, largely unknown and untapped opportunity in American business, especially in the insurance space. Sites like LogoTournament, PopTent, TopCoder, and Chaordix are huge opportunities to help companies increase their velocity. One insurance company I’ve mentioned before leveraged PopTent for video content – and accomplished something in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost, and with a terrific end result. You know the dreaded IT Project Priority List? Use TopCoder for the bottom third that will likely never get done, or be too late, off-target, and hastily made. How about product innovation, creative writing, adjudication, the list goes on and on. Yet sadly, most executives are at 0 or 1 on a scale of 10 relative to Crowdsourcing. Yikes. Huge opportunity for the competition, eh?
Well, that’s all the time I have for right now. I’ll get back to this list later.
The Next Five:
8. Reputation Management
9. Environmental Influence
10. Work Spaces
12. Cost of Doing Business
How is Social impacting your day-in-day-out activities?
What’s the next big thing?
What are your comments and questions, barriers and obstacle?
Perhaps I, or another reader, can help answer them.
What d’ya say?
A question was recently posed in a Linkedin Group I’m participating in:
My first thought is that if Social Tech were implemented correctly, it would be unnecessary for small agencies, say one office, to have a FT Social Tech resource. Mid-sized, multi-location shops, might have a FT marketing person that helps guide the Social Tech efforts on a part-time assignment. The larger and more complex the enterprise, the more time is required – thus driving staff needs.
Here’s the thing, IMHO… To do Social right, strategically and tactically, regardless of the size of the enterprise, ALL employees should be involved in Social at some level. That’s the key thing – it’s an enterprise effort, a cohesive methodology that …
No doubt – specialists are needed to develop and/or curate content – podcasts, videos, blog posts, e-books, etc., the ‘media’ side of the equation. But just as everyone in the enterprise should be capable of answering the phone and responding appropriately to a caller, so too everyone in the enterprise should be listening to the marketplace around them and capable of appropriate actions depending on the circumstances.
Think of it this way: One of these days, we’re going to stop using the term “Social” – Social networks, Social media, Social relevancy, Social influence, Social business, etc. “Social” at that point will be assumed. Remember, as always, there is something we can’t see clearly right now that will build on Social Tech, just as Social Tech builds on Web sites, just as Web sites built on the Internet, etc. What’s beyond Social? I don’t know. But one thing’s for sure – the better you master Social Tech today, the better your chance for success with what’s next tomorrow, you know what I mean?
Any thoughts on the subject? What’s next? If you have crappy Web sites, does that hurt your Social Tech efforts? Please Comment and Share. Thanks!
I recently shared a breakfast at the home of a high-powered, very successful friend of mine. My good friend has a long track-record with a top accounting firm solving all kinds of financial-related business issues for a wide variety of Fortune 1000 companies. But my friend is an executive who is intentionally NOT engaging in any kind of Social Technologies.
Following the conversation on family and personal stuff, we turned to work. Knowing my pursuits, my friend shared thoughts about Social networking. After listening to his perspectives on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., I asked him, “I heard you refer to ‘Social’ in the midst of everything you were saying. Let me ask you a question. When you said ‘Social’, describe what you had in mind? What concepts did the word ‘Social’ bring to mind as you were talking about it?”
He said, “The noise, the clutter, non-important things… you know, Social.”
I clarified, “So water-cooler-type talk… weather, sports, family life, community – that kind of thing?”
“Yes, exactly. I just don’t have time for all that. Like I said, when I’m in work mode, I need to stay as focused as possible on work – no distractions. I see my wife and daughter spending a lot of time on Facebook, and frankly that concerns me. Now I know they might say I spend a lot of time watching TV or playing golf. But I can’t see myself spending my precious free time on Social networks. I hear people talking about Linkedin at work, but it doesn’t seem to be productive. I also know I’ll be asked to help people – not that I don’t want to help people, but if they want my help, all they have to do is call me. I see people using Social Networks to relive the past or trying to get the next new job. Since I don’t want to do either of those, I just don’t see a need to do Social networking.”
Does that sound familiar? The conversation went on from there. I explained that unfortunately, while understandable because of the traditional use of the term, thinking of ‘Social’ Technologies as ‘personal’ or ‘non-essential’, non-business related, etc. etc. is perhaps one of the biggest misnomers in the executive ranks.
[Curious: Do you agree? Are many executives under an incorrect assumption about ‘Social’ technologies as being more about personal, non-essential stuff? Especially in the insurance vertical?]
From a business perspective, Social is NOT ‘Social’. Think UGC – User-Generated Content and all the implications therein – “Crowd” solutions (e.g. Crowdsourcing, Crowdvertising, Crowdfunding), Ratings, Online Reputation Management, professional communities, Social CRM, Rivers of Information, Customer Intel, Revenue on Demand, e-Word-of-Mouth to name a few.
I made a case that in his position, at a bare minimum, he wants to consider what’s called Online Reputation Management. What do people find when they search for him?
Going further, he wants to be thinking about what’s next, what’s beyond the brand and title on his business card? No doubt about it – no matter how successful, both brand and title will inevitably change, won’t they? And when they do, perhaps quite suddenly, will he benefit from a steady effort to build a Social network? Will he correctly understand his Social relevancy in business? And will he be in a position for broader long-term business influence, again beyond his immediate circle with the current brand and its client base?
Lastly, like the MBA process he went through a few years back that lifted his IQ substantially in a short time-span, he wants to consider tapping into brilliant content creators, peers of his that are beyond the faceless Wall Street Journal writers, his preferred info-source. Sure, WSJ writers are no doubt great writers creating a steady stream of great stories. But what about peers of his who are sharing insights and creating dialogs via blogs and Social networks? Could these insights and conversations lift his IQ in a very meaningful and practical way – directly relating to his field?
What do you think? Are Social Technologies a ‘waste of time’? Do many executives in your experience feel that Social is purely Social?
ICMG in Phoenix. #ICMG2012 (You heard it here first: I’m facilitating a 1.5 hour session on Linkedin on Wednesday morning before the Meeting starts. Yeah, I’d rather be playing golf as well, but I was asked, so what could I say.)
PIMA in Palm Coast, Florida. #PIMAAssn Rolling out the rebranding work Bill, Al, Shannon, Denise, Mona, Ed, me and a bunch of others have done in the past year…
Hope to see some of you there.