Facebook and Twitter may get more buzz, but for independent insurance agents, LinkedIn is the place to be.
By now, every independent insurance agent knows the importance of building an engaging, thoughtful social media presence to connect with prospects and deepen client relationships. Facebook and Twitter are used by businesses every day to reach their audience and build their brand. But focusing on those two channels exclusively might be a huge mistake.
LinkedIn has quickly emerged as one of the most important social media outlets for businesses and professionals — one that independent insurance agents can’t afford to ignore. This business-centric social network provides a perfect forum for agents and agencies to tout their expertise and attract new prospects. By taking their LinkedIn profile to the next level, independent agents can take advantage of an enormous opportunity to grow their business on this increasingly important platform.
Marketing on LinkedIn
Before you begin marketing on LinkedIn, you must first understand who your target audience is. If your specialty is selling commercial insurance to small businesses, then your LinkedIn profile and anybody you choose to contact must come from that foundation. The same holds true if you target high net worth individuals in need of insurance or financial advisory services.
It’s important to remember that your LinkedIn profile is much more than just your resume. Where you’ve worked and trained is important, but prospects want to know what you can do for them. With your target audience in mind, create a profile detailing how your expertise helps clients solve business problems. Marty Traynor, Vice President of Voluntary Benefits at Mutual of Omaha, suggests writing a LinkedIn headline that touts your value proposition while using the rest of the profile to support your claim.
When building your contact list, always add business associates, friends, colleagues, and partners in your network. The larger your contact list, the more visible you will be on LinkedIn. Beyond that, Traynor recommends searching and using the “people you may know” function on the site. Another option is Sales Navigator, which identifies key contacts that may be connected to one of your contacts. Use that connection to introduce yourself to that sought-after contact. It’s better than a cold call — especially when you personalize the introduction.
LinkedIn further provides two advertising options. Its self-service Campaign Manager enables you to set a budget and choose either clicks or impressions. You can also partner with LinkedIn’s own advertising team to create exclusive, customized content.
Building Your Brand on LinkedIn
In today’s business world, it’s all about building your brand and getting prospects to come to you for your services. To do that, first get the basics right. Have a professional headshot taken, or other professional photography showing your agency’s offices and team members. Clearly state your brand’s message upfront (“We help small businesses find group insurance solutions”) and where contacts and prospects can reach you by posting a link to your website.
Next, any content you place on LinkedIn should highlight your expertise and skills in finding business solutions — never your sales pitch. Trying to hard sell anyone, especially on social media, likely results in a flat rejection. And many LinkedIn groups forbid members from selling on their forums anyway, says Alan Blume, Founder and CEO of StartUp Selling, Inc. He advises joining groups inside and outside your professional network, and then using those platforms to post relevant content and network with other members.
Instead of overt sales pitches, publish thought leadership pieces and other content pertinent to your contacts’ (and prospects’) interests. When somebody comments on your post, use that as opportunity to start up a dialogue. Rather than just liking someone else’s post, comment on it. By commenting, you engage with your contacts — or any would-be contacts and prospects.
Also, be alert to changes in your contacts’ professional status on LinkedIn. If they’ve moved to another job, perhaps their insurance needs have changed. Congratulating them on their new position may open a discussion on what those needs are and how you can help them.
Finally, have clients, colleagues, and friends post recommendations and testimonials on LinkedIn. If you were able to solve a contact’s business problem, his or her success story demonstrates your credibility in an authentic way, Traynor says.
The social media frontier seems vast and increasingly difficult to navigate for many independent insurance agents — and business people in general. However, by trusting in your skills, your experience, and these guidelines, you’ll be able to plant your flag and attract new contacts and revenue. You might even have fun doing it too.