Changing Faces of the Industry
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.
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!Continue Reading »
During the recent #Inschat the discussion surrounded the topic of blogging. Insurance Marketing chat contributor @NicoleYeary shared a great statistic at the end of the chat showing that 14,409 people were reached by #Inschat tweets!
The conversation discussed blogging content, SEO, commenting, and more. Check below for the #Inschat round-up where we have grabbed some of the key tweets that contributed to the conversation. Full transcript available at the bottom.
Question #1—What are some good ways to promote your blog?
Question #2—Do you have a blog commenting strategy?
@doubleicf: Yes! I keep a running list of sites I hit weekly RT @LloydProGrp: Dont forget to bookmark everything and your other friends too! #inschat
@BrownstoneInsur: A2 – No strategy per say. I simply have a few key blogs I regularly read and offer further insight or interaction. #INSchat
@Berrys_Amanda: RT @Astonish_Kelly: Q2: I have a network of other #bloggers that I follow; I always try to comment on their posts ASAP after I post to generate convo #INSchat
@astonish_alicia: Q2: Finding relevant posts and posting a genuine comment and link! #Inschat
@IIABNY: Q2. No formal strategy on commenting, but I find comments are most helpful when they expand a point or introduce a new perspective #inschat
Question #3—Where do you look when you are stuck for content ideas?
@GarryInsurance: Q3: I try to use experiences like a few weeks ago I put my car in the ditch & used Roadside Assistance – So I blogged about it! #INSchat
@kellydavis226: Q3: my google reader – I subscribe to relevant blogs and there’s always new stuff to read, all in one place. Great inspiration! #INSchat
@maia_melissa: Q3: I rummage thru the search engine terms that brought people to the blog to begin with. #inschat
@iWebHound: Q3 – Take notes if you exhibit at tradeshows. We did a blog post about FAQ we heard. Seemed to get a lot of curious people clicking #INSchat
@AskTim: @maia_melissa @ReyInsurance I just did a blog post this morning based on a client question. #inschat
Question #4—What is the best way to optimize a blog post?
@PRnick: A4L: Write posts with SEO keywords, use keyword as links to relevant pages, SEO plugin, intriguing titles (w/ keywords of course) #inschat
@GarryInsurance: Q4: Using the same back link terms from post to post to keep it consistent #INSchat
@Astonish_Kelly: Q4 I try to optimize all images too! putting keywords in the ALT text & captions of photos in your post is an easy way to start! #INSchat
@ReyInsurance: hyperlink content to other sites? RT @InsuranceMHQ: Q4: What are the best ways to optimize a blog post? #seo #inschat
Question #5—Lets share blog links for networking!
Thank you to everyone who participated. If you were part of #Inschat and we forgot to add your blog just let us know! The next insurance marketing chat will take place next month; time and topic to be determined.
View the entire #Inschat transcript here.Continue Reading »
As the holidays approach the articles about Black Friday check-in’s and location based services, being harnessed by many retailers to offer customer deals, are being published hourly. The use of platforms such as Foursquare and Gowalla are becoming more popular among social media users and the new availability of Facebook Places and Deals on most Smartphone’s will result in an increase of holiday shoppers checking into stores to claim certain discounts.
For the third insurance marketing twitter chat we thought it was only appropriate to cover the topic of location based services and how they can be used to help an agency’s marketing strategy. I recently wrote a blog post about using Facebook deals in your insurance agency, but there are so many more applications and uses of location based services that many CSR’s and social media engineers do not take advantage of.
So in light of the topic’s recent popularity the Insurance Marketing HQ team would like to announce the third #INSchat scheduled for Monday November 29th at 1 p.m. EST. After the Thanksgiving holiday what better time to discuss the topic and share insights from those who participated in the Black Friday deals and those who have implemented such a strategy at their own agency.
The instructions on how to participate in the twitter chat are the same as before with the use of hashtag #INSchat of course. The IMHQ team will be compiling questions over the next week, so for any suggestions or specific topics you would like covered, feel free to email to email@example.com.
We hope to see you all there!Continue Reading »
Recently we held the second insurance marketing twitter chat. One of the last questions that came up was “What advice would you give to a new blogger or social media intern?” Especially in the insurance industry having the right approach at your social media strategy is an important first step. I have included some of the #INSchat comments along with some of my own tips for social media gurus in training.
1) Don’t be overwhelmed.
Leading the social media efforts at your agency can seem overwhelming at first. Social media is meant to be interactive and fun so don’t worry about having too much on your plate. Blogging, tweeting, tagging, it is all progressive. From the point about five months ago when I started until now I have learned an immense amount of knowledge about online marketing and different social media platforms. It takes time to learn everything, so don’t be overwhelmed just have a confident attitude and dive in!
2) Brand Yourself.
This is one of the most important points. No one wants to chat with an insurance agency on Facebook or twitter. If a friend suggested that I “like” an agency on Facebook and they have a picture of their logo and only tweet about how they can give me the best quote, I probably wouldn’t accept. Your job is to represent the agency as a thought leader. Showcase some of your own interests, whether you like football, fishing, or french fries, showing your personality keeps it interesting, makes it more fun for you, and allows others to see there is more to your social media efforts than generating leads. Lets face it. No one wants to hear about insurance unless they need a quote or have a question. So representing your agency as a person not just someone who is trying to sell something is key.
This one probably seems like a no brainer, but reading is important for content ideas and keeping up to date with the latest trends. There is so much information out there about social media, marketing strategy, and technology, so read it! The Alltop social media page is a great resource for finding the trending stories each day. If you have a question, someone has probably answered it in a blog post. The only way to learn about social media besides experience is to immerse yourself in the culture.
Things to keep in mind:
- Be sincere and authentic.
- Posts never go away, think long-term.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Many people on social networking sites, especially twitter, are more than happy to answer a question you may have.
- Get SOCIAL! Having good content is a positive but it isn’t the main source that will drive traffic to your post.
Blogging lets individuals or companies have a voice on the Internet that is all their own and not limited to 140 characters or status updating rules. When done well, blogs reflect the thoughts, beliefs and expertise of each individual blogger, providing a genuine, humanizing look that serves to build trust and establish the writer as a thought-leader on a given topic, whether it’s insurance, mothering, gadgets or food.
The second ever #INSchat focused on the topic of blogging and brought out a number of industry bloggers and other social media users, all chiming in on a number of questions related to building, growing and maintaining an effective blog presence. By the numbers, the October #INSchat featured a total of 65 contributors who produced over 687 Tweets (according to http://wthashtag.com/Inschat) growing the number of #INSchat-related tweets by over 140 as compared to the first chat.
A huge thanks is owed to all who dropped blogging knowledge, below is a transcript with questions and some of the highlights. A full transcript can be found here.
Question 1: What is the purpose of your blog (or any blog)? #INSchat
@Berry_Insurance: To inform/educate on ins. news, community events, social media trends…really, whatever will be valuable to our readers
@InsuranceMHQ: Earn peoples trust by showing thought leadership, community awareness and sharing resources #INSchat
@AlbanyInsurance: The purpose of my blog is create a more Informed Insurance Consumer… And build trust, community, & communication
@BrownstoneInsur: I regularly post tips on how to protect themselves against the top causes of insurance claims; i.e. fires, water damage etc
@MattByers: And sharing your own personality! It humanizes the insurance business since it is a relationship business after all!
@Bravuraleads @BillBateman1 Monetizing that “lead” from a blog is tough, I think it’s more about brand building and thought leadership
@InsuranceMHQ: People Differentiate against competition by creating content that makes people love and need/want you
@astonish_alicia: Blogging is to make confusing information (#Insurance) more clear & readable for everyday people!
@mcibelli: I like to connect things relevant to the industry to current trends or happening. I.E. silly bandz as a networking tool.
@ GarryInsurance: It is about showing readers that there is a face behind the computer who is interested in their well-being as well
Question 2: Q2: Do you have a blog ?content strategy?? If yes, what is included?
@ Lara_John: from a PR standpoint, there should always be a strategy, but depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
@MattByers: Working on it now. Part Insurance, Part Social Marketing Info, Part local resources.
@InsuranceMHQ: Strategy – Blog yourself out of the agency and into prospect meetings. I know @albanyinsurance touts this
@Berry_Insurance: We find content through industry and community news. But we blog about whatever moves us, makes us more real. We also have a culture that encourages staff to submit blog ideas to our writers.
@katieherbst: A good start for a blog content strategy is to brainstorm with your agency, collect actual customer Qs & list of tips for topics.
@Insurance_Maven: I use current events like Fire Prevention month, 9/11, and Life Ins awareness month.
@BrownstoneInsur: I save interesting articles, newsletters or any content that I find moving/interesting and use them as they relate to recent events
Question 3: What steps do you take to make your blog & individual posts more SEO friendly?
@katieherbst: For blog SEO, make sure your headline is keyword-rich! Also, lists are popular, for ex, Top 3 Ways to …
@Berry_Insurance: Good titles, easy to read content and relevant keyword tags. Also use Analytics and WonderWheel to check relevant search terms #INSchat
@maia_melissa: Link whenever reasonable, use the full name of any legislation that effects consumers
@jenmitch: Use keywords, but don’t write for robots. Good content will be shared and found regardless of keyword use.
@mcibelli: Regular updates. Use of keywords. Tags. Links. SEO really is no magic trick- just provide solid, regularly updated content.
@InsuranceMHQ: Keyword backlinks from blog to agency’s website are critical & the more geographically/keyword specific the better
@RiskMgmt: We have a “meta-headline” that we make more cookie-cutter/search friendly if we get poetical with the real title.
@InsuranceMHQ: Pop culture/human interest tends to grab more eyeballs than dry insurance content. Find a way to marry them
@iWebHound: Being a search engine for agents, we always tell MGA?s/wholesalers to have as many links to their site on other sites as they can.
Question 4 – How can you build a community around a blog?
@jenmitch: Participate in the communities of others too. Don’t assume everyone will come to you. Participate/Engage and people will come.
@BrownstoneInsur: This should always be taken into consideration. Don’t post blogs or tweets just for the heck of it. It’s spammish.
@AlbanyInsurance: Commenting on the Blogs of your clients or future clients is a great way to engage them
@greggweiss: The #1 way to build community around a blog is to not turn commenting off! 1-way blogs defeat the purpose.
@katieherbst: To build community around your blog, you MUST participate actively on the social web – and focus on bringing VALUE.
@BrownstoneInsur: I try to focus on issues/events that I know are actually affecting the community we’re located in as often as possible.
@jimkinmartin: I try to share my blog link in my email signatures, etc. to expose it more in hopes people will visit and follow
@maia_melissa: Respond to the comments made in your blog. Try not to let them sit there unattended. Engage right away.
@Zywave: Create valuable content w/in your niche. Encourage interaction and don’t forget to be interactive yourself!
@NicoleYeary: Using a tool like @gist will help you find and connect social media to your existing email clients
@ReyInsurance: find followers you think you can relate to…then stalk the hell out of them! Haha
Question 5: What blogs do you read consistently to stay in the know? Insurance, marketing and news-related.
@Berry_Insurance: Insurance Journal, Mashable Consumer Reports, InsuranceMHQ, local blogs, there are so many!
@NicoleYeary: Best blogs are source blogs – the tools/platforms – subscribe to the source content, get it first.
@astonish_alicia: Subscribing to daily emails such as insurance networking news, #comments and Smart Brief, highlight top stories!
@BillBateman1: google’s blog search is great for me – I’m too ADD to follow a single blog consistently
@katieherbst: GREAT blog on all aspects of content marketing, a must-read, is @pr2020 blog, pr2020.com/blog
@jenmitch: Mashable, Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, Danny Sullivan, Agent&Broker, Insurance Journal. (And many more.) I read on mobile.
@mcibelli: Mediabistro is great for marketing info, prbreakfastclub.com, mashable.com, and of course, InsuranceMHQ. Also, just for general ideas- creatosity.com, workawesome.com and lifehacker.com.
@InsuranceMHQ: Media blogs: riskmanagementmonitor.com, agentforchange.com, nusamsoapbox.com, ijacademy.com/blog/, insurancenetworking.com/blogs/
@NicoleYeary: Risk & Insurance, Senior Advisor, SellingPower, FastCompany, NAHU’s pub & more!
Question 6: What is your greatest blog success story from a networking and/or sales perspective?
@Berry_Insurance: We wrote about a new law and contractor certification and received at least a dozen calls in the week following!
@Brownstoneinsur: We got tons of emails/calls about adding earthquake coverage to policies.
@InsuranceMHQ: Other client reviews restaurants he visits on blog & sends email link 2 owner. Done 10+ times, written 3 pieces of new biz.
Question 7: How do you make your blog more social?
@Brownstoneinsur: Allowing commenting/interaction is important. Posting pictures, holding contests and announcing winner via blog are good too.
@Greggweiss: RT @InsuranceMHQ: A7: I love answering the question, ?Why don?t I get any comments?? with ?How many have you left??
@jenmitch: Q7: You can’t expect your readers to be social if you aren’t social. Don’t just broadcast. Listen too. Agree with call to action.
Question 8: What advice do you have for a blogger just starting off?
@insurancemhq: A8: Write for your own enjoyment with the reader’s needs in mind.
@Mcibelli: Don’t be afraid to incorporate your personality. That’s what makes people come back.
@Lara_John: agreed! RT @jenmitch: Q8: Best advice I ever got -from an influencer level blogger- Blog. Just do it. No excuses. No fear.
@BillBateman1: RT @Lara_John: Q8 – remember blogs are for personality and info, not sales pitches. Add some humor, the rest will come.
View the entire second #INSchat transcript here.Continue Reading »
After one full day of insurance trade show enlightenment at the Alliance 2010 Convention & Expo,
there’s plenty to feel good about. Billed as the largest P&C agent trade show in the west, the first day began with a spirited golf tournament on the beautiful JW Marriot Resort’s onsite 18-hole golf course. Hackers wrapped up the tournament around lunchtime and awards were handed out for longest drive, closest to the pin, best group score and most drinks before noon (kidding).
After a satisfying meal from the veggie and hamburger buffet complimenting the tournament, a brief respite and on to Social Networking 101, the photo below a snapshot from the Thursday afternoon class.
While attendance suffered slightly because of late check-ins, the golf tournament and other offerings a Palm Springs resort supplies on arrival day, we were grateful for the turnout and positive response. Despite a demure demeanor, the audience was engaged and active in question and conversation, with handshakes and well-framed questions following. Two of the memorable questions…Better to have on or offsite blog? Isn’t it a waste of time if I can only contribute to social media minimally?
The next big adventure came in the form of a Texas Hold ‘em Tournament featuring close to 100 card sharks and, perhaps the highlight, delectable ahi tuna tacos, coconut prawns and fudge brownies. The tournament winner collected a $1000 gift card, while the runners up were rewarded with a full poker chip set (3rd) and a weekend vacation of some sort (2nd). All received handsome, engraved medals signifying their eternal significance.
The other highlight came in the form of the sobering band, with two members closely resembling musician and fried chicken purveyor, Kenny Rogers (also referred to as Kenny Loggins by several attendees), and chain-smoking, whiskey swilling comedian Ron White. Judge for yourself below.
As I write this, roars of excitement beckon from the lobby bar below, but the Alliance holds a deeper meaning that needs to be unearthed. Tomorrow, the trade show floor, with all its vendor and carrier splendor is the environment of exploration.
Rousing before 12 p.m. may be tough for some, but not for the intrepid IMHQ. We’ll be there for the opening bell with on-the-spot coverage of what’s shaking in the largest P&C trade show the west has to offer.Continue Reading »
When looking for the definition of a modern hometown insurance agency, Bucci Insurance of Warwick Rhode Island has the look and feel. Situated in a well-groomed business park about 15 minutes from the Astonish Results office, the Insurance Marketing HQ team recently took a brief jaunt over to the offices for another Changing Faces of the Industry interview with their social media manager, Khiara.
Khiara is a senior at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI and has been interning at Bucci Insurance for over six months. Recruited from a Bryant college fair by Tony Bucci, the agency’s owner, she’s in charge of managing Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and the aptly named RI Insurance Blog. As a lifelong Rhode Island native, Khiara keys in on local happenings and community events. She has made a point to incorporate a sense of the Ocean State’s unique identity into the RI Insurance Blog by featuring local businesses, promoting historic Rhode Island events and designing the iconic Newport Bridge into the blog header.
A bit of a renaissance woman, Khiara also coaches a high school gymnastics team, is an RA on her campus, and works at a local golf course. Each of the positions provides her with an opportunity to fine tune social skills and network with a diverse group of people, valued skills for her as an aspiring marketing maven. Most people are surprised to hear that she does social media for an insurance agency, which has actually helped drive some interest in Bucci as a progressive-minded agency.
We sat down with Khiara to discuss insurance agency life and professions in the most recent, “Changing Faces of the Industry.”
<!–cc35cc5a4f9e4128b15657c134dcbde7–>Continue Reading »
When: September 15, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. EST
Topic: The Benefits of Social Media for the Insurance Industry
Reasons to join:
- Discuss social media tactics and strategies for insurance agencies
- Network with other insurance industry professionals
- Ask questions about social media to your peers
- Learn about new social media platforms and how to use them
- Have fun interacting on twitter and gain followers!
How to join the chat:
- Around 1:55 pm EST on Wednesday the 15th go to the URL Tweetchat.com. Once on the site, you can login using your twitter handle and password:
- Once logged in, type the appropriate hashtag (in this case #inschat) in the space provided:
- Click GO.
- Real time results will show up for who is using #inschat
- @InsuranceMHQ will be the chat moderator. He will post the first question by tweeting Q1: ( with the question following)
- To answer the question just tweet back Q1: (and your answer or comment here)
- Feel free to Re-tweet other users in the chat of comment to them
- Chat, ask, tweet about the current question until Question two (Q2:). Do not feel rushed, it is not a quiz, it is more of a conversation builder around each question.
- When using tweetchat.com there is no need to enter #inschat at the end of every tweet you send. The program will automatically enter it after what you type in the comment box.
- Your tweet will take a second or two to show up so do not worry if it does not show up right away.
If tweetchat does not work, you visit http://twebevent.com/inschat and sign in with twitter to follow and participate in the chat.
We hope to build off this chat by creating a monthly discussion on relevant topics that will help agencies create a more fulfilling and fruitful social media presence.
If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or privately via our contact form.Continue Reading »
Finding an internal employee to manage social media can be like hunting for wild game at a petting zoo. Agents, producers, CSRs or even insurance marketing people who’ve been on the job for a long time might simply not have the willingness, personality or experience with social media to make the transition from traditional to social networking.
When no one in the office is suited to handle the tasks of a social media manager, we must look outside the agency walls. Often the best option is to hire a socially savvy friend or relative of a current employee, as is the case with the most recent Insurance Marketing HQ, Changing Faces of the Industry, interview subject, Marissa from the Ross Insurance Agency in Holyoke, MA. The daughter of Ross’ longest active employee, Marissa was hired to manage all aspects of the agency’s social media program which includes blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn.
While it would be easy to classify her hiring as a case of nepotism or “knowing the right pers changing-faces-of-the-industry-ross-insurance-agency on,” Marissa actually has a marketing degree and years of experience engaging on social media networks. Beyond the knowledge, perhaps the most important aspect of her hiring was the sense of trust she walked in the door with because of her mother’s role with the company.
Strategic social networking thrives when the person responsible has a finger on the pulse of agency life and fellow employees appreciate the value of their contributions. If all agency employees saw Marissa’s contributions as, “She just plays on Facebook all day,” they’d be much less likely to share anything useful with her and may even harbor feelings of resentment.
However, because fellow employees know her mother and see that she’s dedicated to growing Ross’ community through the use of social media (while actually generating tangible results), they are much more open, and the social media activities thrive because of it.
While Marissa is a great example of how insurance agency’s can leverage young, non-industry talent to help their marketing efforts, an important point is the advantages that a close family member or friend can have when entering a position next to long-time employees. Not everyone will appreciate the role of a social media manager, but hiring the hard-working daughter, son, niece or nephew of a current employee can certainly help bridge the gap.
Still hunting for a wildebeast at the petting zoo? Ask around the agency, your social media manager could be closer than you think.
Many thanks are owed to Marissa and the folks from Ross Insurance Agency for their hospitality in welcoming the Insurance Marketing HQ team to their office. Please enjoy this “Changing Faces of the Industry,” video interview and excuse the flashy necklaces, we were celebrating a luau-themed end-of-summer party.Continue Reading »
Recently, the Insurance Marketing HQ team had the opportunity to visit the energetic and inspired team from Encharter Insurance’s Amherst office known locally as Blair, Cutting & Smith Insurance. Situated in the heart of the UMASS-Amherst community, the agency has a rich history dating back to 1879.
Our visit happened to coincide with a “theme” day the agency had planned as a part of an office morale initiative that keeps employees happy and productive. To honor the 53rd anniversary of American Bandstand, Encharter’s staff donned attire ranging from poodle skirts and pink cardigans to floor length flower dresses with begonias in their hair.
As a special treat we spoke to two Encharter employees who are shining bright as “Changing Faces of the Insurance Industry,” one a social media engineer and the other, a savvy receptionist turned CSR.
Social Media Engineer – Heidi
Wielding an English degree out of college, Heidi has been instrumental in building an internship program for Encharter by leveraging relationships with UMASS-Amherst and creating an atmosphere of learning. She’s also responsible for helping to oversee the agency’s social media with a full on multimedia and social networking program.
Customer Service Representative – Katie
Stephanie started as a receptionist at Encharter before earning her license and becoming a CSR. Since then, she’s won multiple awards within the agency as a top producer based on a point system set up by the management team.Continue Reading »