Social networks are for kids. They’re just places where teenagers and college kids share pictures and videos of themselves doing stupid things and chat about nothing. They have little to interest insurance agents. That used to be a pretty accurate description of all social networks. That was until LinkedIn came along and created a social network that offered huge advantages to business people in every industry.
Now, of course, every social network has its merits as a marketing tool. Social media marketing through Facebook and Twitter can be really effective in building awareness and driving website traffic. The strange thing is, while insurance agents have slowly come around to the benefits of social media marketing, LinkedIn marketing hasn’t really taken off. Most agents have created pages but the majority sit unused and out of date, gathering dust alongside so many other discarded ideas in the marketing basement.
But insurance agents, particularly those who specialize in commercial lines, shouldn’t ignore LinkedIn marketing. It’s the ideal place to turn a small, local agency into a powerful B2B operation. You just have to know how to use it.
Make a Connection or 500
LinkedIn is all about connections. Like friends or followers on other social networks, your connections are the people who you engage with every time you post something on LinkedIn. Connections have three key effects that benefit a small business. First and foremost, it’s an excuse to start talking to a prospect. Simply find a company you’d like to deal with and find the appropriate member of staff and connect. This may feel a little like cold calling, but most people are very happy to connect on LinkedIn, because they want to build their own networks too.
Connections are also great for building trust and credibility. The more connections you have on LinkedIn, the more trustworthy you look. They can also be really helpful for moving someone from a connection to a lead. LinkedIn displays your connections in common, so you won’t appear as a stranger, you appear as a friend of a friend.
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Speaking of credibility, another easy way to improve yours is to upgrade to a premium account. Don’t be fooled by the added functionality offered by upgrading, that’s just the icing on the cake. Going premium is most important for LinkedIn marketing. When you go premium, you get a little badge on your profile that confirms you have a premium account.
So much of marketing, and LinkedIn marketing in particular, is about image. You are an expert in insurance and risk management; a premium LinkedIn account adds weight to that image. It also allows you to see who’s viewed your profile, which can be really useful in identifying potential connections and potential leads.
Post, Promote, Share
In order to be effective in online marketing, you need content. Ideally you should be producing the majority of that content yourself, but you can supplement it with content found elsewhere. When you share that content through LinkedIn, it will be presented to your connections along with any comments you want to add. This offers the opportunity to instigate a little debate or simply increase awareness. If you create your own content, you demonstrate your expertise and give prospects even more reason to deal with you.
The key is sharing in the right places and to the right people. If someone asks a question or posts an update on a topic you have blogged on, respond and include a link to your blog. You don’t need to throw the sales patter at them or tell them about yourself. You just post the link and tell them it might help. The blog and your on site call to action does the rest for you. You just need to find the right people to share to.
Which brings us to groups. If you’re on LinkedIn, you should be in groups. Any facet, of any industry you can think of, has a group on LinkedIn. Within the groups you can start or reply to discussions, post comments and make connections. If you join groups that your prospects are likely to be in and add useful, insightful content, you can grow your connections and prospect lists in a very short space of time.
Putting aside the LinkedIn marketing advantages for a moment, groups are also a great place to discuss industry topics. You can talk to peers and producers and tease out important issue.
LinkedIn marketing is social media marketing on a completely different level. It takes all the elements that makes social a useful channel and places them in a space where only viable prospects exist. Marketing through social media may not be for everyone. LinkedIn marketing should be a priority for every insurance agent.
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