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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Every now and then the perfect opportunity comes around, usually when you least expect it. Of course we’re always on the lookout for the next great idea that will take us to higher ground relative to sales and marketing. We all know it when we see it. So we try to put ourselves in The Idea Vortex, hoping to catch something that comes out. We kind of have an idea about where we might find that vortex, where the creative types, the visionaries, will be. We definitely sense it when we’re in the middle of it. And we tell everyone (except our competitors) about it afterwards. And then we remember and keep an eye out for signs of a vortex that we might want to jump into. But it’s always hard to know.
I think I might be onto one here and so wanted to share it. I know my readers are some of the savviest people in the insurance biz (and not to toot my own horn, but to acknowledge THEM). And so I’m hopeful that a few of them can break away and be there (or at a minimum, share this post with their networks on Linkedin or Twitter).
The Aartrijk Brand Camp 2010 at The Driskill (smokin’ rate) in Austin, TX starts 3 weeks from today. I know it’s short notice relative to trip planning and calendars, but that’s another thing about some of the best moments in life, right? They are usually last minute, kind of out of the blue, definitely worth shifting the schedule for. Well, this might be one of those times. I just got an update from the folks at Aartrijk. (Btw, Aartrijk has been helping ICMG the last couple years and ICMG has broken registration records both times). Brandcamp 2010 is “shaping up to be a dynamite conference, an intimate learning experience.” Know this: It’s not a mega conference. In fact, less is more. Think small, but productive.
The Driskill, as well as Austin in general, is a very cool place – which inspires creative thinking. The Aartrijk folks and the people they invite are among the savviest in the branding and marketing business. And the format is specifically designed to be interactive, conversational, fostering ideation – and FUN (but not a boondoggle). And like the name says, it IS a camp – you DO stuff. As an example, I’m going to be helping folks understand and create blogs, twitter profiles, etc. Rest assured, I’ll be sharing ‘the good stuff’.
So check it out. Join me. Join the group. Bring your wisdom – AND SHARE. It WILL come back to you.
Were you at Brand Camp 2009 at Hotel Sax in Chicago? Heard it was terrific. I tracked it on Twitter. Share a Comment below.
Share this post with a few savvy peeps in your network. Post to your Twitter or Linkedin profile using the ShareThis button below.
Register here. See you there.
Yes, I will be taking pics and collecting sound bites for a viral vid after. Should add to the buzz. Very very cool.
Yes, the rumors are true – I did have purple hair on Saturday! I was supporting my son’s Homecoming @ Houghton College and my wife talked me into it. The students loved it! See the pics here. And Zach’s team won the soccer game in dramatic fashion! Great fun.
Yep…Twitter really does rank highest. So contrary to something I heard 2 weeks ago from an insurance industry CEO who said Twitter was dying, it looks like it’s quite alive and well. (Btw, the a fore-mentioned executive has no experience with Twitter. Ummm…. the things people say…)
See page 20 of the report, 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report – ton of fascinating data-points in here. Take a few minutes to scan. Might change your mind about a few things, or reinforce some of your ideas.
My own experience with Twitter is thriving. In the last 4 weeks or so, I’ve seen a noticeable increase in my followers, both in quantity and quality.
Useful? Big time. I’m meeting new people I never would have met otherwise, people on my topic, people smarter than me, people doing the things I’m writing and talking about with my clients, etc. etc. Some of them are adding significantly to my River of Information, as Scott Klososky coined the phrase. More followers is inherently important and useful. Why? A number of reasons. Here’s one: Social Relevancy.
Social Relevancy is the little known third leg of the Social Tech stool, the first being Social Media, 2nd Social Networks, and 3rd Social Relevancy. Social Relevancy is all about the Influence a person or an entity has in the social scape relative to a subject matter. Take me as a quick example. I’m obviously trying to impact my Social Relevancy with respect to Insurance and Technology, Social Media Marketing, Socially Facilitated Selling, and so forth. So maintaining a Blog, a Twitter feed, a Linkedin presence, and authoring a Book is all part of building Social Relevancy. And the number of people that are paying attention to what I’m doing matters. Numbers matter. Whenever someone introduces an author, they recount how many books they’ve sold. An athlete – how many championships. A veteran – how many combat awards.
It’s no different with Social. How many Subscribers to the Blog? How many Followers on Twitter? How many Linkedin Connections? How many Friends or Fans on Facebook? The numbers indicate how many people someone or an entity can reach with their posts or updates, and of those people that they can reach, how much influence do they have over them. Will their followers Retweet or post back-links to the content? In other words, is there a viral marketing potential there. Relevance = Influence = Importance
For example, I just looked at my Linkedin Network. Under “Network Statistics”, it says I’m connected to 909 people who are connected to about 300,000 people who are connected to about 9.5 million people. So doing the math I guess my average Connection has about 300 Connections. I’d be interested to know what the median is – probably more like 50-100 since I connected to about 50 of the TopLinked people, or LION’s (Linkedin Open Networkers, those with thousands of Connections). But either way, that’s a lot – clearly useful if I want to communicate and share. There’s 75 million total in Linkedin, so I’m connected to over 10% of them. Wow! That’s useful.
But here’s the REALLY useful thing with Twitter – RESEARCH. As I’ve mentioned before, I use Tweetdeck and twitter search almost every day. I’ve got active searches running all the time on keywords I’m tracking for special clients or purposes. I’ll pop in and out of searches using columns in Tweetdeck. Very very useful. Twitter Search is kind of the exact opposite of Google Search.
Do you see how that’s just a lot more useful netnet than Google? Plus Google doesn’t include Social content like Tweets.
Do you see why it’s so imperative to be publishing content in a way that is easily shared?
Do you see why Viral Marketing can be EXTREMELY effective, not only from eyeballs but also from cost?
Think e-business circa 1999. Social is 2010. E-business generated BIG revenue in 10 years, really changed the landscape. Social will make e-business look small.
And Oh Yeah, I haven’t even mentioned the SEO impact of Twitter on what I’m doing. Read about Twitter and SEO here.
So 4 useful data-points on Twitter – recent Growth, Social Relevance, Research, and SEO. Still think it’s ‘dying’???
What questions or comments to you have? Others likely have the same or similar. Share how it helps you? Happy to dialog below.
One last thing on Twitter. A few of you have said, “Dude, I don’t understand what you are saying with your Linkedin Status updates..” (i.e. Tweets, since I use Tweetdeck to interact with Linkedin (oops, that’s a secret)). Here are a few. Let me decode them. It’s pretty simply once you understand the syntax or format – or language – of Twitter. Remember, with Twitter, you have to be short, concise, and useful – on several levels.
In this case, it also has the original author up front. RT means Retweet, which means I saw the original tweet, clicked through, found it useful, and decided to share it. The # is called a hashtag. Notice that on Linkedin or Twitter, you can click on the word if it’s preceded by a hashtag. That makes it easy for the reader to click into that thread on Twitter. So in the above Tweet, if you click on #social or #B2B, notice what comes up – a whole conversation on that topic.
That’s it. Let’s try one more of my tweets from this week…
See how it works? Every character in a Tweet is important. So lots of abbreviations, left out participles, etc. Not all words are useful in a Tweets. Tweets are typically scanned. Only the keywords matter, and they need to be searchable. If you want to be Retweeted (Viral), the Tweet needs to be useful and worthy, and have room at the end for the retweeter’s comment, too. So really it’s NOT 140 characters – general rule of thumb is 120.
That’s it for now. I’ve spilled my guts on Twitter. Please – you share as well. Hey, Retweet or Share this blog post if you think your network will learn something! But Comment and drop a back-link to your URL (or your company, or your client site – remember… SEO!) THANK YOU.
KAIA – sharing ‘the good stuff’ in K.C. Can’t wait.
PIMA Webinar end of October – will be running a survey before
But first – NCAA DIVISION 1 MEN’S SOCCER Friday night 8pm #1 Akron v. #2 Tulsa – HUGE!!!. Tune into FOX Soccer Channel and maybe see me hustling the sidelines with my camera (I keep a low profile, though)! It’s gonna be CRAZY!!!!! PICTURES WILL BE POSTED HERE.
Picture I made of the mighty warriors that upset St. Bonaventure 4-0. Huge
The game seems to have changed. The art, process, career – call it what you want – of selling is being changed by Social Technology, even in the lagging industry of insurance. Skeptical of this? You have only to look at your most recent sales – or losses. Whether B2B or B2C, do you have a sense that the buyers, BEFORE they decided whether or not to buy, engaged in an effort to “check you out online”? In this due-diligence process, what did they find out about YOU (B2B) or your product reputation and/or brand reputation (B2C)? Was this act on behalf of the consumer as common just two years ago (2008)? How about 2005? Even if it was common in those days, did it carry as much weight in the purchase decision? I think if you really look at the trends, you’d have to admit that the selling process has changed.
Think about it. How would you characterize the most recent selling paradigms we’ve seen over the past few decades. As a B2B sales guy since 1988, I’d say I’ve seen three distinct era’s in 20+ years, certainly with convergence and overlap. Generally speaking…
What do you remember about the pro’s and con’s of these earlier phases? What struggles did you have adapting to the changing paradigms? Any funny anecdotes that come to mind relative to this? How would you characterize what we’re seeing now with Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs and their impact on sales? Consumer/Client rating? Retweets, ShareThis, Recommendations? Email marketing? Podcasting? Viral video? Content syndication?
My own funny story… I remember when I was selling for ADP in Phoenix around ’91/92, a couple years into it, I got my first laptop and bought a copy of ACT! That year I made President’s Club for the first time – a really big deal for me just starting out trying to establish myself as a capable sales guy. Relative to my small patch in east Mesa on the rural areas to the east (Globe, Payson, Show Low) the tools definitely helped me get to the next level. But I now had a new challenge. “Where the frickin’ OUTLET around here???? I need a POWER SUPPLY for my laptop!!!” :-) So much for McDonalds – not outlets!
Selling from a hotel room at a conference.
PIMA MarkeTTech 2009 at the Loews Philadelphia hotel this week – definitely worth the trip. Several neat stories:
1. Best of PIMA award went to Marsh. More on that in a future podcast (I hope).
2. IdeaStar’s client, Forrest T. Jones, won the top Gold Award for E-Commerce Web sites, surpassing some great sites by AON and others.
Ftj.com is absolutely a ground-breaking site. See the White Paper I helped write here. Phenomenal site. Kudo’s to the entire team that worked on. From the early e-business readiness consulting work that Mark Seghers did, through the diligent, competent, and persevering efforts of the FTJ team (Fred & Debbie and others), including the IdeaStar team (Mary, Brent, Phil, Wayne and others), all the way to winning the award and beyond. Simply outstanding efforts and results. Matrix-driven architecture with content management is a great solution for multi-carrier, multi-product, multi-association, multi-state education, quoting, and enrollment. Only way to go circa 2009.
3. A long-time attendee approached me and said, “Mike, I’m finally ready to do a blog. And I want my CEO to do one also…” Cool.
An amazing event on several levels. I found it remarkable that something I brought up at the Stoweflake resort in the summer of 2007 finally yielded some fruit. And I’m flattered and gratified that he came to me. Very very cool.
The decision is not ‘whether or not’ to participate in social media. It’s HOW to participate.
Social Media is a marathon not a sprint. – good quip for the book I’m writing.
Great story about customer service and addressing the customer through social media, turning the relationship around, finding out about a service issue with the rep and a management issue with the rep’s boss – all because they were monitoring social media and then addressed the issue that was raised by the customer. Great story.
Anything more than 2 minutes is boring.
5. Sound bites for a music video to open a panel discussion at the next PIMA Annual Meeting called “Demystifying Social Media”
The audience at the annual meeting will be the executives, so in general the bosses of the folks at MarkeTTech. With notable exceptions, the exec’s are generally crossing their arms and rejecting social media and social networks. But their people are using the tools and definitely see opportunity for insurance marketing. So my hope is that with sound bites and corresponding images, we’ll arrive at a short (<2min!), punchy opener that grabs the execs.
Any comments on this post are welcome. Do you think Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) and Social Media (Blogs, YouTube, etc.) are relevant to the distribution of insurance in the affinity and association markets?