By Coburn Childs
Have you ever seen examples of social media branding that you want to emulate? Did you know that 83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business? However, growing companies face a road block when it comes to building their business through social media. Specifically, many managers find it difficult to maintain a consistent branding strategy that resonates with consumers across multiple social media platforms. Why is this? Unfortunately, the reason is often because a specific “brand” hasn’t been established for the business in the first place, thus making it much harder to get the company’s message and standpoint across to an ever-increasing network of users on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. However, with just a little bit of strategy and effort, your business can learn from some of these examples of social media branding and move on to bigger and better things.
Establish Your Brand
The first step that your business should take, even before diving into social media, is establishing a vision for how you want to be perceived: Your brand. Branding is essential when it comes to marketing your business, as it is how your consumers will recognize you and understand what your company values, promotes, stands for, creates, and is generally “all about.” Your brand does not have to be limited to one specific item. For example, a company like Apple has branded itself as helpful, essential, friendly, easy-to-use, diverse, and innovative world-changers. These are just a few key traits that company has adopted as part of its brand, and look how well it has worked for them!
Grow Your Influence
Once the brand of your business has been established, it is important to recognize which social media networks you should be engaging with. Facebook and Twitter are just two examples of social media outlets, but there are many others. For instance, Vine or Instagram can be a great way to share pictures and videos of community events and local service and engagement, if that is how your company is positioning itself. Or maybe you can utilize LinkedIn to recruit top talent, if you want to be seen as professionals. Whatever your focus, have a strategy to it, and be sure to grow your influence by involving your business in more than just one social network.
A brand will do nothing for your business if you do not adhere to it. Consistency is key, as your market is more likely to engage with you if you have a determined focus on a specific form of branding. If your company wants to be seen as fair and non-partisan, it may be a good idea to avoid tweeting or posting politically slanted or religiously skewed posts. Similarly, if your business is all about professionalism, you may want to stick to posting and tweeting engaging posts that professionals will find helpful and engaging.
You simply have to sign onto Twitter or Facebook to recognize that examples of social media branding are numerous. What sort of brand will your business be promoting, and how can you grow it? With some strategy, consistency, and the right engagement, branding can take you far!
About the Author
Coburn Childs is a creative mind and young professional based in Providence, RI. In recent years, he’s blogged on a number of topics, from the insurance industry to Hollywood’s box office trends, from communication theories to religious topics, from food to movies, and everything in between. He’s also a self-described social media nut! Currently, he works as an Inbound Marketing Specialist for Astonish.
SEM performance, when it comes to our agency partners, can be analyzed in two ways:
- SEM campaign performance (cost per click, average position in search results, cost per lead)
- Sales (agency) performance (policies activated, percentage of leads quoted, total premium acquired via SEM)
To a large extent, the SEM department strives to drive qualified traffic to your VIO, with the ultimate goal of converting that traffic into “quotable” opportunities (i.e. a visitor who is looking to obtain an insurance quote from your agency). I use many different methods and tactics to drive as much qualified traffic as possible to your agency, so that you aren’t wasting SEM budget on clicks that aren’t valuable to your agency – specific keyword research (at the very least, we are advertising on specific insurance products, not informational keywords), geographic targeting (so that you aren’t wasting budget on clicks from outside of your target area), and “day-parting” (the practice of showing your ads in search results primarily when your agency is open and able to handle quote inquiries). Of course, you’re liable to receive traffic and lead inquiries (calls or quote request forms) from people who are less qualified, but these are the methods that we employ to limit those instances.
But what happens after you’ve received a quote inquiry from SEM? You’re highly visible in search results for your target keywords, you’ve enticed someone to click on your specific ad, and you’ve given the user enough information that they’ve decide that they want more information from your agency via form or phone. Now what?
Here are three tips to take advantage of the leads that come through your SEM, giving you the best chance to turn leads into customers:
- Be open to all types of customers. SEM is a great tool to target some specific types of insurance, mostly through the use of good keyword selection. That way, we can make sure that we capture those searching for “auto insurance” and not “earthquake insurance” (kind of important when your agency is in Chicago!). But what about the term “business insurance”? Can you imagine all of the various types of businesses that will arrive at your site via that search query? Don’t throw away that lead opportunity just because your agency doesn’t specialize in funeral home insurance.
- Don’t sit your “varsity” players! We all know that different producers have different success rates when closing business for your agency. When you are paying for the traffic (and thus, leads) that come from SEM, wouldn’t you want to give yourself the best chance at closing a policy as possible? The answer is simple – use your sales metrics to assign all SEM leads to the producer that has the best closing ratio. After all, it’s much easier to close a “referral” than a digital marketing lead, so put your best player on the field as the competition gets tougher.
- Haste makes waste. This is probably the oldest rule in the insurance sales book – the quicker that you get in touch with a lead, the better your chances of getting their business. This is particularly true for digital marketing (and SEM) leads, because those that are on the internet are likely using the down time after they fill out a quote request form on your website to research other agencies. Don’t let them get to far – call them as soon as you receive their inquiry, or else run the risk of losing them to the other local insurance agent down the street.
SEM can be a very valuable source of qualified leads for your agency — the person that tries to contact you via SEM has already performed a keyword search, seen your agency’s advertisement, and clicked through to your site. At this point, you’ve got a very interested audience – wouldn’t YOU want to take advantage of these leads?
So, everyone is talking about “Pinterest” these days. If you haven’t checked it out already and you are a woman – you definitely should. If you are a guy, you should also jump on the bandwagon and upload as many “manly” pins as possible – just to try to balance things out.
Pro Sports Board
People who use Pinterest know that probably 80% of the site ends up dedicated to finger nail polish, hair styles, shoes, and cute baby animals. It is almost the online version of magazines like “First for Women” that my wife buys at the grocery store. It doesn’t have many articles, but there are always weight-loss miracles, hair styles, shoes, and of course those cute baby animals.
The premise is that you have virtual corkboards and when you find things you like on the web, you “pin” them to your board. You organize your boards by topics, and people can then follow what you pin, re-pin your pins, like your pins, and discuss them. You can also search and sort pins by topics, and find gift ideas. It is very easy to use, and easy to set up. The interface is clean and well organized.
Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing websites of all time, and has reached the 10 million monthly visitors milestone faster than Twitter and even Facebook. The unusual aspect to this meteoric growth is that it has been fueled mainly by women. In most cases, internet start-up sites become popular with users who are men under 35. According to comScore, 65% of Pinterest users are women, and these women drive 85% of the traffic on the site. More than half of the women using Pinterest are 35 or older.
Pinterest seems poised to be a huge player in the social media game. As a guy, I find it cool to be able to pin the things I find on the internet and to keep them organized. I do realize that nobody on Pinterest is probably going to follow my psychedelic poster art board, but I like having the collection in one place, and adding to it when I come across more. I don’t have much use for fingernails that look like the solar system, motivational slogans, cute shoes, or wedding ideas – but there are evidently a BUNCH of women who do.
It will be interesting to see how companies embrace Pinterest. I mean if I had a craft or jewelry business, I would be pinning my work all the time, with links to where people can buy my creations. This can also be applied to a larger scale business model. I would think Pinterest will become another tool for businesses, just like Facebook and Twitter.
So guys, head on over to Pinterest and see what the women are up to. Once you get an “invite”, don’t forget to pin your favorite motorcycle, cars, rock and roll music, sports teams, tech toys, grills, and even your favorite BBQ recipes. Of course someone has already come up with “Manteresting.com” where you nail instead of pin, and it’s mostly beer, guns, and lingerie models. Hopefully Pinterest can become a little more balanced and we can all pin what we love together!
You can’t deny it anymore; marketing is not what it used to be. Using traditional tactics like placing print ads in newspapers won’t get you very far these days and certainly is not the most cost-effective way for small businesses to reach potential customers. Where are the majority of consumers looking for products and services? Online, of course! So, if you’re looking for insurance marketing ideas or strategies for any small business, the answer is only a click away.
Press releases have been a staple of marketing and PR for what seems like forever, but the strategies behind crafting press releases have evolved quite a bit. With the advent of PR 2.0, small businesses don’t have to wait until they win an award to send out a press release. Writing for the Web is a whole new ball game, which centers on creating engaging, informative and shareable content. For this reason, new-age press releases may look more like blogs in the sense that they can be about timely tips, a quirky characteristic of your small business or simply a “cutest pet” contest that your business is hosting on Facebook.
As your company begins to navigate the new terrain of PR 2.0, keep these things in mind when it comes to submitting press releases:
- While the focus should be on making content engaging, be sure to answer the key questions who, what, where, when and why.
- Get local by mentioning the city in which your company is located and other surrounding towns. This will help you reach your target audience.
- Include a press release section on your company website so that you can archive copies of your press releases and also help them maintain their SEO value.
- Promote your press releases via your social media accounts.
In order to keep up with the changes in marketing and public relations, small businesses must be flexible with their strategies. Even if you need a little help along the way with Facebook training or a rundown of new PR techniques, you will be successful as long as you stay open-minded!
Having an offsite blog in addition to your insurance website has many advantages. Not only can you increase traffic to your Virtual Insurance Office, but you also have the ability to draw in readers and create conversations through comments. Utilizing this tool will help you learn more about your customers and help them better understand all of the products you have to offer.
According to SocialMediaToday, receiving comments provides insight into the readers’ thought processes, which will help you better understand their needs as well as challenges. This advantage is why it is crucial for you to write value-driven content in order to better relate to your audience. In addition, the more honest and quality content your produce, the more trust and credibility you build with your customers.
Therefore, by increasing the number of comments on your blog, the more viewers will take notice. This is because you will be showing you have the ability to engage and have a conversation with your audience. The following are three tips on how you can increase your comments on your offsite blog:
Tip #1: Make it easy for the reader to comment
People who are new to blogging often forget to turn on their comment feature. Is the comment section large enough for the reader to find it? Do you require only minimum information from the viewer before they can comment, such as their name and e-mail address? If it’s technically difficult to leave a comment, readers will leave the page. Therefore, make it easy for them to start a conversation on your offsite blog!
Tip #2: Ask Questions!
Remind your readers that you want their comments and opinions by asking them a question at the end of the blog post. Ask them directly to share their response in the comment section. You can mention a direct call to action like “Let me hear your thoughts by writing in the comments below”. The more specific the request is, the more likely the reader is to leave a comment. So encourage your reader to take action by leaving a comment and participating in the conversation!
Tip #3: Always respond to people who comment
People don’t want to feel like they’re ignored. This is why taking the time to respond to readers who write a comment shows that you are paying attention to them. This creates an opportunity to further engage with that reader. When other readers see that you are interacting with the people commenting on your blog, they will feel more encouraged to join the conversation!
Once you learn to master the art of writing strong, unique content, you can watch the comments roll in! Always pay attention to how your audience reacts to certain posts or what they seem to enjoy about what you have to offer. By focusing on the audience, you will increase the success of your onsite and offsite blogs!
Image courtesy of foursquarestore.com
Social Media isn’t just for Twitter and Facebook anymore. More people are utilizing Foursquare to let their friends and family know what they’re up to. This application is a location-based check-in system allows customers to boost your business’s status in the community.
“Foursquare unlocks your city and makes your world a more interesting place,” writes Carmine Gallo, author of ‘The Power of Foursquare’. He continues, “It informs, illuminates, and inspires. For small businesses, it can help attract, reward and engage customers in ways that were never possible.” Gallo’s book give seven tips that educate business owners how the application can help them.
- Connect your brand
- Harness new fans
- Engage your followers
- Create rewards
- Knock out the competition
- Incentivize your customers
- Never stop entertaining
With the November 15, 2011 revamp of Foursquare.com, your business has the opportunity to get noticed without a customer “check in”. Users who sign onto Foursquare via the web at certain times the website will suggest places they should visit. For instance, sign in at 11:30am and they will suggest great lunch spots near their office. The same will occur later in the day around dinnertime. Foursquare is committed to helping your business connect with your customers.
Compatible with other Social Media tools, when your customers “check-in” they are able to notify not only their friends who utilize Foursquare, but Facebook and Twitter. For every check-in, Foursquare users have the ability to “unlock” different achievements:
- Reward points
Foursquare helps your business connect with your customers in a new way. It also brings attention to your business and community. “Unlock” the possibilities.