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.
“What’s the #1 obstacle you face in your sales efforts?” I asked the Mississippi-based agent.
“Paperwork. Without a doubt. Filling out application forms after I bring a new client on board. It’s incredibly time-consuming. On one particular product for Mutual of Omaha the application is 32 pages long…”
I went on to ask, “What hinders you the most from using Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.?”
“I’m not sure how to use it. I don’t know what I can and cannot do on Social Networks. The insurance companies I represent either have not issued any guidelines at all or have conflicting ones with each other. But I’ve got over 500 friends on Facebook. I see it as a huge untapped opportunity for me to get the word out about what I’m doing to help people…”
This conversation was with an agent that appeared to be in her 30′s, very energetic, sincere, and taking her vocation as an insurance agent very seriously. Man, given the right tools, guidelines and coaching, this person could easily double her sales using Social Tech. However, the issue of paper forms needs to be dealt with. Perhaps another facilitator here at the College can help – Mindfulware.
More on that later. Gotta run to the session I’m facilitating on using Social Tech for Insurance Sales and Marketing…
ICMG, an insurance industry association I’ve been involved in since 2004 (thanks to John Kertis), asked me to write up a little something about Linkedin that might be helpful to the membership, and by extension, the organization. (These Comments also seem to be relevant to any industry association, Linkedin Group, and/or professional.)
Frequently I’ve heard and seen the following Comments about Linkedin and Social Technologies….
“I don’t really know that much about it. I’m accepting connection requests, but that’s about it. Who has the time for all that anyway…”
“I’ve joined a couple industry groups, but to be candid, I’m not really participating. I’m barely keeping up with regular email, let alone social networking…”
“I’ve got a profile in there, but I can’t remember my password…”
“I really don’t get the whole Social Networking thing. When I need to speak with someone, I just pick up the phone and call them. If they’re interested, they’ll call me back…”
“I doubt people ever search for me online. Why would they do that, anyway?”
“Social networking is for people that sell to individuals, not businesses. Insurance AGENTS should be using that stuff, but not me. I sell to company executives and they don’t use Linkedin and all that…”
“It’s impossible to keep up with all that Social stuff. As soon as I’ve got something at least somewhat figured out, they go and change it on me…”
“My company blocks access to Social sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Linkedin is open, but people frown on it when you update your profile or status. People think you’re looking for a new job…”
“Look Mike, I can see why YOU want everyone to use all these Social things because you’re in that business. But… I’m a deal-maker… OR I run an insurance agency… OR I’m selling services to insurance marketing executives… OR I work in the Senior market… OR I recruit, train, and support 1000s of agents…. I don’t have time for Social Networking. Plus the people I work with aren’t using it or even asking about it. So it’s a waste of time for me. I’ve got a job to do and numbers to hit…”
On the surface, these are all legit Comments, no doubt about it. However, we all know the common euphemisms that apply to Comments such as these. I won’t take the time to restate the common and standard responses, such as “Well, if ‘everyone else’ is jumping off a cliff, does that make it right?” Instead, let me point out some statistics and other data-points that might lead the reader to decide to take a different path, more forward-looking and though-leader’ish.
A few data-points about Social Networks in general:
65% of Adult Americans that use the Internet use Social Networks
93% of Americans believe that a company should have a presence on social media sites and 85 percent believe that these companies should use these services to interact with consumers.
The top age group, by volume, that uses Social, is 35-44; second is 45-54.
Retirees age 65 and older are the fastest-growing group of social networking site users.
Social network use among Internet users 50 years old and older has nearly doubled to 42% over the past year.
A few data-points about Linkedin in general:
In June 2011, LinkedIn had 33.9 million unique visitors, up 63 percent from a year earlier. (1)
As of March 2011 the service had 44 million users in the US and 56 million outside. (1)
LinkedIn members are on pace to do more than four billion searches on LinkedIn in 2011. (2)
The average American has 634 ties in their overall network and technology users have bigger overall networks. (3)
Lastly, a few data-points about the ICMG Group on Linkedin specifically:
Just like the Annual Meeting itself, it’s a big network and growing, but also includes non-members who are participants in the industry.
ICMG Linkedin Group has 450+ Members and growing daily.
Going further, many of the Group Members have over 500 Connections on Linkedin themselves. Most have at least 150+ Connections. If a study were done, it would not be surprising to find that the average ICMG’er on Linkedin is connected to over 100 insurance industry professionals and colleagues – and all these numbers are in growth mode right now.
The Group activity is meaningful.
Up significantly in 2011, Group Discussions have been used for announcements like new insurance products and distribution partners/channels, links to relevant articles on topics like health insurance and PPACA, and Q&A on different challenges and solutions native to our business and industry.
So as an industry participant, “What’s in it for me?” you may ask.
Think about it. If you post something in the ICMG Linkedin Group, 450 people in your industry have the chance of seeing it. If you post something INTERESTING in the ICMG Linkedin Group and 10 people make a Comment, add 10×100 or 1000 MORE potential industry views of your Announcement, Comment or Question. And what is the cost? Time.
What about research? Need a warm introduction to a potential strategic partner? Need to do some research on someone before starting a relationship? Looking for a service provider in your network? By connecting with industry colleagues and participating within industry discussions, can you see how both sides of this coin can be satisfied?
Are these helpful pieces of information that might change your mind about the environment? If so, you might then ask, “OK, Mike. I see what you’re saying here. What should I do to take advantage of all this opportunity?”
First, get in there and update your profile – completely. Manage your property. If you want to see a good example of all the parts and pieces, arrangement, keywords, applications, and so forth, feel free to browse my profile. I’ve done a LOT of research – every single element is done for a specific reason. Use me. Pay attention to the details – they each have a purpose. Above all, make sure your profile is connected to your professional email address. The general concept in play is “Online Reputation Management.” Nuf said.
5 Minutes: Update your status with something useful. Reply to any Comments as quickly as possible.
10 Minutes: Scan your network’s status updates. (Here’s the thing: Build the Shares newsfeed section into a powerful part of your river of information.)
As you scan, by all means, Like and Comment on other Shares, as appropriate, remembering that your network will then see the updates that you Comment on and Like. Try not to read-only, instead add value with insights and promotion of content.
5-10 Minutes: Open and scan the Group email blasts as they come in. At least look at the subject and author.
No time to add 20-30 minutes a day to your schedule? Look for something to cut.
5 minutes: Look at the network Recommendations on the Home page Network updates. Float your mouse over unfamiliar names that have recommended influential people in your network or vice-versa. Are these potential business partners?
10-30 minutes: Try to make a few Comments in a few Groups to add value and build influence.
If you haven’t already, look at the member list and send Connection requests to people you know. Send warm introduction requests to people you want to know.
No time to add 15-30 minutes, perhaps an hour a week to your schedule? Use down time in between things – JUST NOT WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING, PLEASE.
10 Minutes: Update your profile with any material changes to your job, interests, awards, etc.
30-60 minutes: Make/Ask for 3-4 Recommendations for/from current clients wrt projects, etc.
No time to add a half-hour to an hour a month to your schedule? Make time – get up earlier or do it while eating breakfast. (Do you really need to watch one more game/show/movie with undivided attention?)
Two final comments:
All boat rise with the tide.
Don’t get left behind.
Good luck. Happy to help. Please Comment and Share. I wanna know. Thanks.
First, let me just say that it’s very irritating that Linkedin has a policy on its Company Pages that you can only administer a company page if you use an email address that uses an extension of the company name – so no Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. extensions, like me. Why? Not sure, but it’s pretty stupid considering how companies are starting to pursue different email strategies like corporate Gmail….
Promoting a company, brand or organization on Linkedin has three primary components:
I. Company activities
II. Employee Activities, especially leaders and stakeholders
III. Clients, Partners, and Fan Activities
I. The question becomes, “What are the specific things that can and should be done by the company to promote the company and recruit top talent?” No doubt, specific strategies will vary by company size, industry, business goals, etc.. A strategic assessment that connects the business objective with the Social Technology tool is a prudent next step. Let us therefore limit the discussion to the B2B context (assuming
that B2C is more focused on Facebook marketing and not Linkedin), and further refine to mid-market companies. Let’s further say that the actual person running the company Linkedin page is in Marketing and is following a tightly organized Content Calendar, looking to drive sales and business development opportunities.
The Company activities on Linkedin focus around the Company Page. The Company Page has many outbound promotional opportunities, most of which are under-utilized by the vast majority of companies. So if you don’t know about this stuff, don’t feel bad. Circa the Fall of 2011, the following list will likely serve as a checklist of engagement points, the tactical elements, the allowable functions. HOW to use these tools – what to say, when to say it, what to ask, how to respond, etc., etc. – this is where the art of viral marketing, crowdsourcing, rating, and many of the Social Technologies concepts come into play. I’m begging you: DON’T WING IT. Think “driving a high-end Harley with little or no motorcycle training” – good chance you’ll wind up in the hospital – or worse, right?
The Top 10 Elements:
0. Put up your Logo!
Some more activities the Company can do:
Employee recognition – run an employee of the quarter contest, preferably with as much employee ownership as possible so it’s a big deal, then announce in Status Updates, have the employee list that under employee awards, figure out a way to loop-in the related clients, etc. etc. etc. Always tie recognition to the clients served.
Relay current client Recommendations that are given to employees and the company. Client engagement is the whole point. So if there are major touch points like Recommendations of Products and Services and/or employees, broadcast those very generally, right? And should we return the favor? Absolutely. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
What do you think? What else have you seen? Please Comment below. Don’t just take – ya gotta give, too.
Next week: II. Employee Activities, especially leaders and stakeholders
Following week: III. Clients, Partners, and Fan Activities
Is this helpful? Need help with a strategy for the What, When, Where, How, Who? Please comment, share, and/or reach out to WebWisedom.