As an insurance company, you’re no doubt aware that the sales industry has changed dramatically.
New technology means that your prospects are no longer calling your office; they’re looking for you on your website and on Facebook. Zig Ziglar says in his book Ziglar on Selling, “The sales professional of the twenty-first century has to be capable of adapting to change and using current technology.”
Chances are good that your parent insurance company has a website, but you have tremendous power on Facebook to attract new clients, service existing accounts, and build relationships with current and future customers. Unfortunately, building your business with Facebook can be fraught with difficulty.
While print advertising of insurance products is heavily regulated and restricted, specific rules pertaining to online marketing (especially on social media) have in most states been unclear or unwritten. Fortunately, these five Facebook tips will help you market effectively and legally.
Know the Rules
Before you embark on marketing on Facebook, you first need to become intimately familiar with your state’s insurance marketing regulations. What you say to a client should always be accurate, but when you say something online, there’s a permanent record of it, so any false claims, inducements, or other impropriety can be easily proven. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a paper available online about the marketing of insurance over the Internet, and if you want to prepare well for your social media campaign, it’s worth a read.
The NAIC article states, “Insurer information transmitted over the Internet constitutes an advertisement that is regulated by state insurance laws.” Just like with printed material, you’ll need to ensure that any online advertising you do meets the requirements set forth in your state’s insurance regulations. Any annuities that are also regulated as securities will need to be marketed in accordance with FINRA regulations, including FINRA Rule 2210.
Social Media is Social
Social media is all about building relationships, not selling products. Prospective clients who interact with you on social media want to know you as a person, not a corporation, so it’s important to keep all communications friendly and personable. The goal with social media is not to make an immediate sale, but to build relationships.
Social media fails as an advertising tool in a conventional sense. People don’t usually find an insurance agent on Facebook, contact them through private messaging, and set up an appointment to buy a policy. Social media more closely correlates to building brand awareness, as it doesn’t directly lead to an immediate sale but encourages prospective clients to remember you and keep you “top of mind” when they need to renew or change their insurance policy.
One outstanding example of this principle is Paul Edwards, an insurance agent in Lacey, Washington. Edwards connects with clients on his personal Facebook page, his business Facebook page, and his Facebook group. He posts pictures, videos, and status updates, talking about his children or his upcoming events. He uses a lot of visual content to engage audience.
The purpose of Facebook is to build a connection with your clients. In the sales industry, some people use the acronym “FORM” as a reminder of things to talk about in order to establish rapport: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Message. By sharing his family activities, his job-related events, his power-lifting hobby, and a few scattered bits about insurance, prospective clients can connect with him and feel like they know him before they ever get to meet him in person.
This is the important thing to remember about using social media for insurance marketing. You may be restricted on what you can say about insurance, but the laws don’t prohibit you from talking about your family or your hobbies. Use Facebook to make friends, not just to make sales.
Engagement Is Crucial
Insurance is a product that doesn’t differ tremendously from one company to the other. Even when it does, your company has dozens or even thousands of agents in your area all selling identical products. Customers buy from you because they like you, and the product is secondary to your personality. .
Facebook pages offer administrators the ability to measure how a post is doing, to determine which posts are getting the most likes, comments, and shares. Using the Insights tab on your Facebook page, you can find the common threads between your most popular posts. Sometimes it has to do with the content: Perhaps your viewers prefer blog posts to videos, or maybe they like images better than status updates. Sometimes it’s about the time or day you’re posting. Once you find these commonalities, you can schedule your posts for maximum engagement.
Another way to measure engagement is with a third-party tool called Klout. Klout measures engagement across social networks and distills the information into a simple number called a Klout score. By watching your Klout score, you can determine how all these individual pieces of data affect your influence over your followers in the long run.
Use Facebook Regularly
The purpose of Facebook marketing is to ensure that you remain top-of-mind for those situations where your prospect is ready to buy. The goal is that when they buy a new car, they’ll think of their friend who sells car insurance. When they finally get ready to open their new business, they’ll call you for E&O insurance, or for business liability insurance. But you only remain top-of-mind if they see your posts in their News Feed, and that requires regular posting.
Once you’ve figured out what your friends and viewers like, it’s important to be consistent with your posting. This can be challenging once your Facebook marketing results in lots of new appointments! And you may find that the ideal times for you to post are the same times that are best for you to be holding appointments or servicing clients.
Fortunately, you can schedule your broadcasts using Facebook’s page scheduler (if you’re posting to a page) or using an external tool like HootSuite. HootSuite will allow you to post directly to a personal Facebook page, whereas Facebook’s Future Post feature only allows you to schedule posts to your Facebook page. Using HootSuite, you can pre-schedule your updates to be broadcast at the ideal time.
Depending on how frequently you want to mess with your broadcasting, you’ll need to schedule at least an hour a week or a few hours a month to set up your broadcasts. You’ll obviously want to schedule this outside of your “prime time” for selling, but using a scheduling program allows you to broadcast whenever it’s most convenient for your viewers rather than the most convenient times for you.
Make Time for Conversation
In addition to the scheduled broadcasts, you’ll need to schedule at least a little bit of time every day to personally respond to those who contact you on Facebook. Some of these will be private messages that you need to reply to, and others will be responses to your postings.
Facebook users generally expect a response from businesses within one day of them posting to you. When you go three or four days with no responses (only broadcasts), your viewers will learn quickly that you’re not interacting with them or replying to them.
Of course, when a prospect contacts you ready to set up an appointment and buy a policy, you’ll want that information promptly. Use Facebook’s iOS or Android app on your smartphone to make sure you get these messages quickly, and be sure to enable push notifications.
Ads Are Your Friend
After you’ve streamlined the above-mentioned process, you can leverage Facebook ads to promote your services and keep the momentum going. Tools like AdEspresso can be used to create and optimize ads to promote your page to a targeted audience.
Such tools also enable insurance agents to create multiple ad variants for different sets of audiences. So if you are selling different types of insurance plans; one for students and one for families for instance, you can create different ads to promote your page to each group. Here’s Heidi Blondin Financial’s ad targeting parents on Facebook:
If you’re an insurance company/agent using Facebook to attract new clients or help you maintain contact with your existing clients, remember the six rules of Facebook for insurance companies:
- Know and follow the laws and regulations for your state
- Be personal and social.
- Engage with your readers.
- Use Facebook consistently.
- Respond to all inquiries and comments promptly.
- Leverage Facebook ads.
Facebook is a tool, but the sales process and principles remain the same as they always were. Conduct your business on Facebook with the same ethics and personal service that you use for offline business, and you can use Facebook to safely expand your reach.