Last year, Accenture surveyed nearly 50,000 banking and insurance customers and discovered that 73% want their bank or insurer to communicate with them in novel ways. Another 59% said they’d like their providers to blend physical branch services with digital services. In other words, they want to interact with agents in ways that suit them best — and, increasingly, that means moving the conversation online.
The COVID-19 crisis has shined a spotlight on the importance of social media platforms for property-casualty insurance agents because of the unique opportunity they offer to safely reach and engage consumers at scale. Yet doing so presents an equally unique challenge for insurance marketers: how to take advantage of this amazing tool while protecting your brand.
The opportunities and challenges of social media
Social media is a critical tool for today’s insurance agents to not only deliver on consumers’ expectations, but also to recruit prospective customers. Research from Applied shows that younger audiences rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals when choosing an insurance carrier, and social media is, perhaps, the world’s largest WOM machine.
Practically speaking, social media enables agents to identify connections, build their personal brands, and engage in a two-way dialogue with customers and prospects alike — all in service of building genuine trust. Yes, social media is a wonderful resource, but as a carrier, you still need to protect your brand.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has tried to harmonize the state-by-state regulations and provide best practices for social media, but in practice, these guidelines can be overly broad. For property-casualty insurance marketers looking to activate agents on social media, look to the best practices used in more highly regulated insurance markets. Here are four.
1. Update your social media policy regularly.
The highly regulatory environment of other insurance markets, particularly those that deal in life insurance and annuity products, has forced carriers in those markets to pay special attention to their social media policies. For marketing departments overseeing social media strategies in any market, however, policies can help maintain control over messaging when individual agents post on the brand’s behalf.
By keeping social media policies updated, marketers give everyone a guiding light on brand messaging and compliance. Ideally, policies should be updated to reflect changes in the apps and devices your agents use to engage on social media. They should also reflect updates in your brand’s messaging, its current involvement in the community, changes in the approval or archiving processes, and updated best practices.
2. Offer social media training (and retraining) for all agents.
Initial training is essential for agents who are new to social media engagement and compliance, but seasoned agents can benefit from retraining sessions as well. When you update your social media policies, for instance, don’t expect agents to read and understand them completely on their own. Instead, hold retraining sessions to clearly outline and explain what’s changed.
Along with policy updates, good triggers for retraining include new rules, new marketing campaigns, the addition of systems for approving and archiving content, or any other new tech features or tools. Include best practices, case studies, and specifics about brand messaging in each session to keep everyone aligned.
3. Streamline social media efforts with the help of technology.
With thousands of pages across social channels, it would be a herculean effort for a marketing team to approve and archive every mention of the brand on social. Let software do the heavy lifting for you. Social media management software allows you to streamline the review and approval process and assign a team to manage it. The right software can automatically archive posts from every agent, making it easier for marketing departments to keep a complete record.
4. Adopt policies that make sense for organic vs. paid social.
Organic and paid social require different approaches. For instance, though organic social media communication can’t be confined by geographic boundaries, agents should geofence their paid social media efforts to limit their reach to the states in which they’re licensed.
Focus on brand guidelines when it comes to paid social, too. Ensure agents’ paid posts align with broader brand marketing for a well-rounded strategy. For instance, make sure agents have approved assets to share in paid campaigns. Hold retraining sessions to update agents on current marketing efforts and let them know how their individual paid posts can help campaigns reach their full potential.
Meeting consumer expectations to interact on social media is easier when you can ensure all of your agents have the tools they need to stay above board. Invest in the right social media management software, update your social media policy as often as needed, and give your agents the confidence they need to be the face of your brand.