For insurance agents, social media works best as a spontaneous medium — fresh, honest, without guile. When readers find you on Facebook, they’re not looking to be pitched right off the bat. They’re looking for your expertise, certainly, but they are also looking for your empathy – can I trust this person to have my back? Will they handle my insurance needs as they would their own? What are their values, and do they coincide with mine?
Agents, however, are often scared to death to be spontaneous – what if I say the wrong thing? What if my comments are misinterpreted? Spontaneous, however, does not mean thoughtless. Statements sent out via social media travel faster and farther and last forever, so it only makes sense not to say the first thing that comes to mind but to think a minute before posting.
Agents who use social media effectively do just that.
Ryan Hanley of the Albany, New York-based Murray Group Insurance Services, says he asks himself two questions before he posts a single word: “First, I want to know the expected response from what I write. Second, how will I react when I receive a response? I need to understand the value the reader will take away from my words, not the value I want to project.”
Donna Hosfeld of Hosfeld Insurance in Macungie, Pennsylvania, says: “It’s a process of being hyper-clear about my meaning and then hyper-vigilant about responding to a comment.” Donna posts several times a day and she realizes there will be times when her words are misconstrued. “If someone takes a post the wrong way, I make it a point to quickly respond to them, which often times defuses any hostility.”
Jason Cass of JDC Insurance Group of Centralia, Illinois is reminded of the old rule that “if you don’t want something you said on the front page of the newspaper, don’t say it. Our industry is afraid of criticism, but it’s how you respond to that criticism that’s critical.”
Chris Paradiso of Paradiso Insurance of Stafford, Connecticut, always stays positive, no matter what form or tone the criticism takes. Chris sends out numerous posts and tweets every day. “When I write a post, I read it three or four times and then share it with three or four others in the office to make sure it says what I mean. I also never, ever ignore a negative comment. That doesn’t mean I am not cautious when someone registers a complaint on a social media site. But I will always pick up the phone and reach out to the critic directly to find out the root cause of their complaint. I may not solve the problem online, but very often if I’m able to address the issue to their satisfaction they will repost a compliment or at least an appreciation of what I was able to do.”
As an agent, what would you talk about over coffee with someone you just met casually? Would you to start selling coverage or get to know them first?
Social media gives you the time to expand your spheres of influence and make more connections that can lead to sales. And with a little bit of planning, you can avoid the social media pitfalls, be spontaneous and let your personality shine through—the very qualities that made you a success in the first place.