I recently attended a dynamic ACT/AUGIE/AIMS Conference (Agents Council for Technology/ACORD User Group Information Exchange/American Insurance Sales and Marketing Society) where much of the discussion was focused on agency and carrier partnerships for social networking. Our industry is at a pivotal point to gain market share if agents and carriers partner together in their efforts to attract consumers.
Right now, we are working against each other. Agents think that the carriers are approaching the social campaign from an over-regulated, ultra-boring, exceedingly technical viewpoint. And that is not what consumers are looking for. The most successful social media campaigns are those that do not directly address insurance issues, but indirectly resonate with consumers from an emotional place. Consumers react and interact with campaigns that get their attention subtly rather than a bold “Buy From Me” position or using stale contractual language.
Social networking requires that the provider reflects their personality and lightly engages consumers at a local level. Carriers are spending enormous sums of money building their fan base and building content for the wrong target audience—carriers should be developing content and spending resources to provide agents with content and media to use for co-branding. The customers of the carrier are the agents, and the customers of the agent are the consumers.
Agents and carriers are tripping over each other, when we should be partnering together. Agents need to engage consumers and expand their internet presence. We have all learned that consumers today are more likely to trust their peers over any other authority figure. We sell a complicated product that requires trust in the person selling it. Agents need to earn that trust through continued deliberate involvement on the internet and in the local community.
Social media provides free business intelligence for agents, because consumers share their life events such as weddings, new drivers, purchases of expensive toys—and all of these aspects require different types of insurance that a trusted advisor is able to provide. Carriers can assist with providing informative videos or campaigns intended to address desired client needs and allow their agents to promote these through their social media channels. Carriers can share youtube versions of commercials, or shareable images, or video interviews with happy clients after a terrible claim, or creative, educational explanations of coverages. Agents can share these with consumers for a win-win with social media.
Angelyn Treutel, CPA, is president of Southgroup Insurance Gulf Coast and the chair of ASCnet's Industry Solutions Industry Initiatives Committee and the past-chair of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology.
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