Social media has the potential to dramatically improve financial professionals’ ability to engage with clients, but successfully using social media requires a different approach than traditional modes of consumer communication. Financial professionals who want to leverage social media to its fullest extent need to have a deep understanding of different social media platforms and the type of communication that is most successful on each outlet.
It’s clear that many organizations understand the importance of social media already. In a recent study conducted by LIMRA, 60 percent of 36 surveyed organizations revealed they had training programs in place to educate financial professionals on effective social media use. These organizations recognize the value provided by a strong and cohesive social media strategy, and the remaining 40 percent of organizations that currently do not yet have have social media strategies should investigate ways to educate their financial professionals on this important tool.
A different approach
Many financial professionals find social media intimidating, and it does require a new skill set that may be outside their current repertoire. While the skills to deploy a strong social media strategy may be unique, the end goal is not. Effective social media use provides higher engagement with clients, and that has been an important aspect of insurance sales throughout history.
Targeted social media efforts build a rapport with desirable clients, and eventually this relationship can lead to sales.
With the same goal
Social media provides the reach of impersonal communication methods, such as cold-calling or mass mailings, with the personal touch of more targeted audience-building efforts. Social media platforms allow financial professionals to listen as much as talk, which makes them nearly unique as relationship-building tools.
The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America emphasize the enhanced communication social media platforms make possible. They noted, “Social networks offer more substance and value than the familiar ‘what are you doing’ status updates.” By going beyond the surface, financial professionals can use social media platforms to take the pulse of consumer groups, discover areas of concern or pain points, and engage in a discussion that offers solutions to these issues. While this doesn’t necessarily cause a direct sale, it establishes the financial professionals as a trusted resource for financial information, and can build a lasting relationship with consumers.
A low barrier to entry
A strong social media strategy begins with a plan, and involves a hefty amount of listening before direct customer engagement. Accenture outlined an effective social media strategy that involves a progression. First, financial professionals are told to listen to the needs of consumers on their social networks of choice. This offers multiple benefits, as it establishes what the customers want from their insurance providers, and gives financial professionals the opportunity to select the networks that have a high concentration of potential clients.
After financial professionals have learned about the clients on a chosen social network, they can reach out to build engagement. This doesn’t necessary have to involve direct communication, but should center around building a trustworthy and responsive brand for consumers. Throughout the entire process it is not necessary to push sales, but social media is a tool to build relationships and develop a client base.