The Effective Use of Social Media by Independent Life Insurance Experts
By Brad Cummins
For independent life insurance agents, social media is a quick way to establish credibility with existing or potential clients. Either your blog posts and tweets prove you know what you claim, generic copy will not suffice in this situation, or you have the online equivalent of filler: Poorly written content, with hundreds or thousands of fake “likes” or followers from bogus accounts, which fails to give your brand any traction with the very people who otherwise need your help.
I write these words from experience, where, in my role as Founder of Local Life Agents, I understand how powerful social media is and how often companies, across a variety of industries, misuse or are unaware of the influence these resources possess.
So, instead of reaching out to relevant users or the organizations and support groups that these men and women follow on Facebook or Twitter, rather than showing readers that your business is at the forefront of events that matter to these people, we get insurance companies (and executives from this, that or any conceivable enterprise) publishing self-promotional materials that almost no one wants or needs.
The line separating a company that says it is great, and a business with something great to say is for many corporations a distinction without a difference. Meaning: Some life insurance brands would sooner “write” 140 characters on behalf of some feel-good slogan than adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
Take for instance the duty life insurance agents have to educate themselves about high-risk medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease or cancer, or Crohn’s Disease. The latter proves this point since one of my colleagues, who is not himself a life insurance agent, but someone with whom I nonetheless work, has Crohn’s Disease. As do 1.6 million other Americans, of whom many, be they newly diagnosed patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or longtime survivors of this ailment, want to buy life insurance.
These men and women are extremely active online, using social media to exchange ideas, share their opinions of (and reactions to) certain medications, post the names of doctors specializing in treating this illness and recommend (to fellow patients) life insurance agents knowledgeable about this subject.
A life insurance agent who wants to earn the business of these people must, therefore, do two things:
First, and this rule also applies to patients with diabetes, cancer or any other high-risk impairment, a life insurance agent must have relevant content that appeals to this audience.
If an agent does not understand the physical implications of a person’s medical condition, i.e. If I were to try to sell life insurance to someone with Crohn’s Disease, even though I knew seemingly nothing about the severity of this illness, that agent would immediately discredit him or herself online, regardless of whether that “professional” has a Twitter or Facebook account.
Word would spread fast, and the news would become more exaggerated with each retelling, about a life insurance agent peddling policies for patients with say melanoma or multiple sclerosis despite that agent’s ignorance of the people he or she seeks to approach.
Second, a life insurance agent must create a dialogue with a specific audience. That is the purpose of effective communications: to inform and inspire. Hence my earlier reference to Crohn’s disease which because of my colleague’s battle with this chronic condition makes me more conscious of and sensitive to this illness. On a practical level, the more I know about IBD, just like the more I learn about asthma or arthritis or cardiovascular disease, the more I can help patients with one or more high-risk impairments who want to buy life insurance.
Thus, I follow an organization like the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) or the American Heart Association (AHA). In so doing, I get updates about new studies and medical trials, which allow me to be more conversant about a health-related topic with a client, and to have a stronger presence on Twitter or Facebook, or through original long-form content on my blog that resonates with readers.
The lesson about social media in general, and the principle involving life insurance agents in particular is simple: Put aside vanity and explain the virtues you represent. Tell your audience what you understand, which is something these people need to know so your business can grow. Communicate through social media and thanks to your integrity others will celebrate your services and champion your skills.
Brad Cummins is the Founder of Local Life Agents, an independent life insurance agency offering life insurance products in all 50 states. From starting his own agency from scratch, for Farmers Insurance Group in 2005, which he later sold in 2014, to his nationwide launch of Local Life Agents, Brad customizes solutions for his clients.