You may have heard about the latest social network out there and available to iPhone users – Vine. The app has been making huge moves in the industry. Compared to other apps of its kind, it has made a huge impact. Increasingly, users of the social media are downloading and “vining” their lives.
Right now, you may be thinking what is Vine? Initially, you may be picturing Tarzan swinging through the trees in the jungle – and while this would make a great USE of the app, it is not an actual “vine” at all. Here is what we know about Vine.
• The mobile app is owned by Twitter
• It allows you to capture and share short, looping videos
• The videos are 6 seconds long – or less
• It allows you to capture motion and sound
• Hashtags can be used
• You can “follow,” “like” and “comment” on other users’ videos
• The application can be linked to a Twitter account
Similar to the idea of only being able to use 140 characters on Twitter, the creators of Vine hope to inspire creativity in users. Vine makers hope users can see and share life in a “fun, simple way.” It is available for free in the app store for Apple users, and soon, the creators hope to bring it to other platforms and android devices.
Is Vine Popular?
We all remember MySpace – it was immensely popular, and then Facebook took over the social networking sphere. The thing about Vine is this: it wasn’t the first mover. There were several other video apps available prior to its creation. Actually, several of those apps had many users as well. However, since January, when Vine was introduced by Twitter, the tides have been changing for social media.
According to industry statistics, Vine has grown its users by 50% in one month alone.
How can an insurance company use Vine?
Similar to many other social media networks, insurance agencies across the United States may be wondering how they can actually use Vine. Insurance is a service – it is not a tangible product. However, there are many ways you can get creative with Vine and use it to promote your brand!
Here are some tactics that seem to work well with Vine:
1. Sneak Peaks: You have six seconds – this works perfectly for showing teasers and sneak peaks. Is your agency about to unveil a new service option? Use your six seconds to show some aspect of it, and have your clients guess what it might be!
2. Humanize Your Agency: Vine is a great way to show the character of your agents. Use your videos to let your clients get to know the funny, exciting, and creative things you do in your office as a team!
3. Show New Offerings: Have you changed or updated a policy offering? Use Vine to show the bullet points and contact information for more info!
Remember, these are videos that everyone will be able to see. You want to use Vine to demonstrate what makes your agency great and show people who you are!Continue Reading »
The use of social media is crucial to your digital marketing strategy. You want to intrigue and engage your client base and, since technology has made social media such a readily accessible piece of our daily lives, a key way to engage is through social media.
Your agency has likely turned to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest or LinkedIn to get your message across and engage web audiences. And since Facebook is a major part of the social media revolution, when Facebook makes changes… the world listens.
The Facebook Update
In order to progress and stay ahead of the social media game, Facebook works hard to tap into users’ unique needs and preferences. You already know that sharing photo or video content puts you at the top of the news feed and allows you to reach more viewers because Facebook has made it so, but now, Facebook wants to take that a step further.
Facebook plans to unleash a new addition to their news feed: more news feeds. In order to better tap into user interests, Facebook users will have more options when using the social network. Currently, one news feed streams updates from friends, pages and advertisements – from the music being listened to, the photos being shared and the articles being read. However, Facebook wants to change that.
Users will now have the option to have multiple feeds, including a photo feed, a video feed, a news feed or even music or offers.
With the changes, Facebook hopes to be able to use the newly free space to make photos larger and show more stories that are targeted to a specific user. This will help get rid of the current clutter in newsfeeds and in theory, users will spend more time actively engaged.
Keep your audience scrolling.
With the new changes to the newsfeed, Facebook hopes to keep users engaged for longer, scrolling through their “personal” newsfeeds and thus, more focused on the content shared. Are you prepared to adjust your strategy to be sure you are reaching your intended audience?
A change in engagement means you need to remember to…
- Post relevant content – share things that your followers are interested in viewing.
- Keep your posts to no more than 5 times per week. Over-posting will add to the “clutter” that the newly designed newsfeeds are aiming to eliminate.
- Photos and video content are more engaging and more often shared, use that to your advantage when posting.
- Develop a strategy that works for your brand and keep it consistent to keep followers coming back for more.
Once Facebook unveils the full scope of the variety of newsfeeds, think of how your insurance agency can create a social media strategy around it. You will want to be present on as many feeds as possible while still being relevant.
We’ll keep you posted on the changes as they continue to develop and remember, when in doubt, ask your followers what they want!Continue Reading »
A recent article over at SEOMoz discussed the importance of diversity in your SEO strategy and it really got us thinking. The idea of diversity is important for your entire digital marketing strategy, from SEO to social media to email marketing. SEOMoz calls it diversity, but here at Astonish, we call it a blended strategy!
Blending your digital marketing strategies may be easier than you think. When looking to diversify, pay attention to your:
Not only is it important to diversify your links to keep things fresh, but it’s also important to stay on the up-and-up with Google. You want to make sure that there is a variety of ways for visitors to get to you and you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. If you’re getting the majority of your links from directories, try grabbing opportunities to guest blog with a local newspaper (Patch.com is great for this) or a local organization / chamber of commerce. Even the highest quality of link building tactic (PR, guest blogging, directories, etc.) can become low quality if you abuse it. Spread the link love and build your backlink portfolio.
Similarly to the places you have links back to your site, you want to make sure you have a variety of outside sources bringing traffic to your site. Whether you’re bringing people in from email marketing or social media, make sure you keep it diverse. If your agency is really strong on Facebook and you’re bringing visitors to your website from there, try integrating more focus on Twitter and Google+ and pushing visitors from those sites.
Point of View
Diversifying your point of view may be a little trickier than your links and traffic sources. For the most part, your point of view is who you are as an agency. But it also has to do with your attitude. You don’t have to change who you are and the message you send by changing your point of view, but rather just change your attitude. The insurance industry can be a tough market for content generation whether it is through email, blogging, or social media. One rut you don’t want to get into is thinking your industry is too boring for creativity – that is the WRONG idea to have! You have to approach your marketing efforts with a fresh perspective and passion for your subject matter. If you’re bored with your content, then your readers, customers, and potential customers will feel that way too. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to come up with new ideas – look at your agency as an outsider, go through some of your sales processes as if you’re a new customer, have one of your staff members explain to you why your agency is different and better than all the rest. Consider the things you’re doing within your community or for charitable organizations. A renewed positive attitude can do just the trick in triggering content ideas.
If you adjust anything in your digital marketing efforts for 2013, let it be the diversity in what you’re doing – make sure you’re using a blended strategy. The change up will pay off, giving you a new gusto for your marketing efforts, improved attitude, and in turn better interaction and engagement for your audience!Continue Reading »
What is Instagram?
- Instagram is an image-based social network available on all SmartPhone devices.
- Instagram accounts and pages can be viewed on the Internet and can be linked to users’ Facebook and Twitter accounts as well.
- Users take photos on their iPhone or Android devices and can choose from a wide variety of filters and editing techniques to up the ante. Once ready to post, Instagrammers can tag friends and followers, use hashtags similar to Twitter, and even blast their image to their other social media networks as well.
Boasting well over 100 million users, Instagram has certainly taken the social media world by storm, but did you know that many of those users are actually businesses?
It’s true. Some of the most successful Instagrammers are brands such as MTV, NASA, and Starbucks. With all of the power Instagram has for business exposure, it’s no wonder businesses are turning to Instagram to engage their customer base and enhance their brand. Is your insurance agency using Instagram?
You might be thinking: “Okay, but how can you take photos of insurance? It’s a service-based industry.” Well, that’s easier than you think! Think about the insurance lines you offer and all of the human interest that goes into that. Think about the topics you might be blogging about. Think about the astonishing agents in your office. All of those things are photographable and can be shared very creatively on Instagram!
Check out these 5 ways you can use Instagram to astonish your clients:
1. Expand your audience: By connecting Instagram to your other social media accounts, you are introducing a new way for clients to find, connect with and share your content.
2. Increase engagement: Have fun with it- try having your very own Instagram challenge within your agency and neighborhood. Ask clients to post things like “the most unique car on the road this week” or “my dream home” with your agency name as the hashtag.
3. Show off your agents: Instagram is a great way to let your client base get to know your agents. You could post funny photos, images of office fun, or even try out posting images of the insurable items your agents own (Does Sue have a really cool car? Does Dan decorate his house in the coolest way for the holidays? Show your clients!)
4. Local connection: A great way to use Instagram is by connecting local and national events to your brand and the services you can offer. Was there a huge storm over the weekend, why not upload some photos of the neighborhood and remind clients of your insurance lines?
5. Share compelling content: In the same way you write compelling content for your blog posts and share compelling and relevant posts on your other social media profiles, you can use Instagram to do the same. Is there a huge event taking place in your neighborhood this weekend? Why not post some photos on Instagram. It will keep your clients and future clients connected with you and sharing your interesting content.
Using Instagram is easier now than ever before. The company has even created a blog specific to businesses offering tips and uses for Instagram that you can find here. Additionally, Instagram has unveiled “profiles” on the web that showcase your brand and the content you are sharing to users who may not be on Instagram. Imagine the possibilities for your agency!
Are you imagining all of the awesome ways you can use Instagram? Good! Now go and try it out and let us know how it goes for you!
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When is the last time you cleaned up your social media accounts? My guess: never! Many times, we often forget about cleaning or updating our accounts because we are too busy blogging, or for some, running the entire business. However, it’s a good idea. Fall is approaching. Why not head into the new season with a fresh approach on your social media networks?
The next time you have some free time, you should consider doing the following:
#1: Go through your Twitter followers. When is the last time you looked through your followers? Many of them may not even be using their accounts anymore. Now is the time to delete those who have not tweeted in at least a year or so. Don’t worry about the number of followers you have; aim for quality!
#2: Update your profile picture. When is the last time you jazzed up your page? A new profile picture may be just what you need on Facebook and Twitter.
#3: Follow back those you may have missed. Have you followed all of your followers back? If you are interested in connecting with someone, go for it! If you never follow back, you will most likely never build connections and relationships.
#4: Update your biography. Spice up your bio with new and exciting information or accomplishments. You don’t want your page to get stale. It is important to change things up every once in a while; your bio is an easy way to do this.
Staying on top of your social media accounts is an important part of your internet marketing social media strategy. Find the time this month to follow these tips and you are sure to feel refreshed and ready for the season!Continue Reading »
Has your agency wanted to get more involved with giving back? It can be difficult to know where to start – Do you send a check? Do you ask for donations? Do you volunteer your time? Remember that you have an amazing resource at your fingertips: social media! Your social networks aren’t just for insurance marketing, they provide the perfect starting point for social good. Here are a few of our favorite tips for giving back and helping out:
Choose an option that’s right for you and your agency, and start giving back. Studies have shown that giving back makes companies more successful in the long run, so it’s a win-win all around!
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Your company has multiple social media sites – good for you, but why are you spending more time on Twitter than LinkedIn? Content varies from one site to the next and posting the fun company office photos you’d upload on Facebook isn’t something you can do, say on your company’s YouTube account. The sooner you realize each site is meant to be used differently the better you will keep your audience engaged! There are numerous social sites out there, but these four remain as the top reigning ones that are most visited each day. Your business can definitely be bettered by utilizing all four, just make sure you’re keeping on top of all your accounts appropriately and equally. Here’s how each one should be maintained for your business:
Facebook – Most people still view this as a site for college students to put pictures of your friends partying online that will stay on the Internet forever and we don’t blame those people because Facebook was originally created for college level men and women. However, since its inception almost eight years ago, this popular social tool has become much more than a time waster. Companies are now using the site to gain a virtual audience for their business by setting up online promotions and taking their customers into their office by way of videos and photos. Those with accounts on the popular social site are viewing these companies who also have accounts as driving forces in their communities just trying to make a name for themselves. You are able to interact and respond with people almost instantly about anything you post on your page! This is a very gratifying way to launch your business’s name to the online world.
Twitter – Believe it or not most people are still intimidated by this site simply because its format strays from a typical site of adding a picture and a bio. It offers you the ability to express whatever’s on your mind, but only in 140 characters or less so get a little creative with how you post! Twitter was designed to be more of a mobile social site where you can share anything on the go – a true information network. Want to let your customers know of a great promotional video that’s running for your company? Attach the link and in seconds anyone who’s following your Twitter account can have access to it. Need to send a quick message to a few Twitter followers about a question they had for YOU? No problem! Group your Tweet so you’re interacting with all of them! Twitter is a fantastic option to become a true influencer in your community and create a professional network of people who share the same interests as you. Don’t be intimidated – create an account and jump right in!
LinkedIn – This is THE professional site today. You want all the positive information about your business on your page as possible. That includes a photo of yourself or the company’s logo, contact information so a potential customer can reach you like a website and phone number, and how about some comments from past customers or employers? LinkedIN has a feature called “recommendations” where you can opt to have people leave positive feedback about your business and the type of worker you are. People who visit your page will read through these comments and will instantly know yours is the company to get in touch with and that you mean business. LinkedIn is also a fantastic networking tool because it can provide you with information on potential employees looking to work in your industry. You can browse for interested applicants for jobs and connect with colleagues and friends who also have a page on the professional site.
YouTube – Unlike the first three sites, this one is all about video and nothing else. YouTube was designed in mind with the idea that anyone – pretty much literally – can add videos to the Internet and in a matter of minutes hundreds of thousands of people can view what you’ve uploaded. There are acting and music sensations today that began their careers with the simple click of the “upload video” button on their accounts. You can become an online star as well. Utilize the fact that YouTube reaches so many people and create customer testimonials. Sure a written recommendation does the job the same, but people are more drawn to watching something positive than having to scan pages of a letter. Be creative with your YouTube account – link it to all your other social sites; have you thought of that? Once you have that powerful piece of video, take it and put the link on your Facebook and Twitter accounts so more than one realm of your audience can view it! Tools this simple are made this way so everyone can enjoy them without the hassle.
So now you know just what each social media site can accomplish for your business and how it affects your target audience. The amount of time you spend on each site is entirely up to you, but make sure it’s divided equally as you have just learned all four of these sites can do amazing things for your company. You wouldn’t want to be thought of as amazing some of the time, so don’t just go on these sites some of the time!
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If you’re a frequent reader of Insurance Marketing HQ, you know we’re all about blogging. It’s a great tool for SEO, the perfect way to establish yourself as an expert in your industry, and just an overall a wonderful resource for insurance marketing. In the past, we’ve covered topics like blog inspiration and touched on promoting your blog posts. But what if you want to go above and beyond?
You write an amazing post, publish it, and then what? Social media is a great place to get your name and your blog out there! Here are some tips for content writers using social media:
- Use the big networks. Make sure you have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you’re comfortable with it, go for Google+, too. On Twitter, try using your blog’s name as your username. Do the same with your Facebook vanity URL. Have a link to your blog in your public profile.
- Share posts. When you post a new blog, share it on each platform. We recommend using link shortening services like bit.ly, which can help you track clicks back to your post. Include a short (one or two lines) blurb about the post to interest readers. Occasionally, share older posts as well. If you wrote a post a few weeks ago about the dangers of texting while driving, and your state just initiated a ban on texting, share your older post! It’s still timely.
- Interact and engage. Make sure you share your posts, but don’t forget to interact. The whole point of social media is to have a conversation. Don’t wait for people to come to you – go find users talking about the topics you’re writing about, and start commenting or tweeting with them! Follow accounts, like pages, and join groups. Participate in intelligent conversations to establish yourself as an expert.
- Be friendly. Happily promote other blogger’s content – they just might return the favor!
- Avoid self-promotion. Don’t sign off every comment with a link back to your blog – you’ll just look like spam. Instead, be genuine! People will be more likely to interact with you and trust you, and eventually click back to your blog.
Remember that this will take time. You’ll need to establish yourself as an expert, as a good writer, and as a genuine person. As much as we all sit behind screens, we still like to know that an actual person wrote what we’re about to read. So go ahead and have fun with it. When you give your network good content, a friendly attitude, and valuable information, they’ll want to read what you’re writing!Continue Reading »
As your agency continues to grow its presence on the web it’s important to look into every area to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the digital possibilities around you. When it comes to social networking, your social sites can work in tandem to help your agency deliver the best information, news and content to subscribers which is why having a YouTube account is beneficial.
After getting acclimated with Facebook and Twitter, it may be time for you to get your hands messy with a YouTube if you haven’t already done so. You’ve probably have experience posting viral or popular videos on your Facebook and Twitter accounts, but with your own YouTube page you can create and share videos specifically about your agency. Whether it’s agency information, local events or anything miscellaneous, your YouTube channel can be a gateway for potential customers.
While Facebook and Twitter seem to dominate the social media landscape, YouTube cannot and should not be ignored. For instance, in 2011 there were over one trillion playbacks on YouTube, a staggering number. Additionally, 82% of the U.S. internet audience viewed video online. And, believe it or not, the most viewed video in 2011 was Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”
While you’re putting your YouTube page together, it’s not enough to simply fill out basic information and leave it at that. Just like a Facebook or Twitter profile, you need to optimize it so users see the legitimacy of your page and, as a result, the legitimacy of your agency. To get the best results from your YouTube account, try following these guidelines for success:
- Increase subscribers: Similar to how you ask users to “like” your Facebook page and follow you on Twitter, include a call to action at the end of each of your videos. You can also use what is called an “annotation” asking viewers to subscribe to your page
- Add widgets to your website/blog: Soon after you create your own YouTube page you should add a widget to your website to customers can easily access your account and watch your videos.
- Always interact: Just like you would on other social networking sites, take the time to view and leave comments for videos on other channels, preferably ones that are close to you in subject matter or location. If you interact with others, they’ll be more likely to interact back!
Once you get your YouTube page set up, you’ll be able to share your agency videos on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media sited you’re registered with. It’s important to treat YouTube like any other site so make sure you follow our guidelines to better your insurance marketing efforts!
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There’s a good chance you already have a LinkedIn profile (and if you don’t, what are you waiting for?!), but there’s also a good chance you aren’t taking advantage of everything this great networking platform has to offer. After you’ve tweaked your profile to perfection, added a professional looking picture and received a few recommendations from colleagues and clients, what else is there to do?
You need to think of LinkedIn like an after-hours networking event: you show up in your nice suit, grab a drink, put some of your business cards out on a table…and then sit in the corner all night.
No! You work the room and meet everyone that you can. You want folks to get to know you and understand what you bring to the table. The same method of thinking needs to be applied to your LinkedIn profile; don’t show up to the party and then sit alone for the entire evening.
One of the most valuable parts of LinkedIn is their “Answers” feature. LinkedIn Answers allows users to post questions and also answer questions that other users ask. If you log on to your LinkedIn profile, click on “More” in the top navigation and then “Answers” in that drop-down menu, you will be directed to the Answers portion of the website. I recommend just clicking around as a way to really see what Answers is capable of, but here are a few reasons why I think it’s so great:
1) You can position yourself as an expert. People are able to ask their questions in very specific categories. Click on categories you feel that you are very knowledgeable about and if you think you can provide a great answer, go for it! If the person asking the question thinks you had the best answer, you will begin to earn expertise. Experts are featured on the Answers homepage and in each category of questions. This is your way of showing what you know rather than telling people what you know.
2) Increase your blog traffic. If someone asks a question and you think a blog post you have written can be used as a resource, feel free to share your thoughts and your link. Obviously you shouldn’t do this if it has nothing to do with the question at-hand (don’t be that guy) but if you can work your post in to your answer in a seamless way, you definitely should.
3) Target potential clients. Think about what kind of clients you are trying to attract – small business owners? Technology companies? Auto enthusiasts? Think up a question your ideal customer might want to answer and put it out there. Once people begin to answer your question, be sure to message them individually and thank them. Don’t try to sell them anything; just be genuine! This is a nice way to slowly build a relationship with someone who has the potential to bring a lot of money in to your agency.
LinkedIn Answers is a fantastic networking tool if used correctly. Just remember to only ask and answer relevant questions; don’t waste your time trying to answer a million questions every day. Good relationship building takes time, but the ROI is often well worth the wait.Continue Reading »