Posts Tagged ‘ branding ’
Though social media and blogging are important insurance marketing tactics, many agencies miss out on one highly effective, yet often overlooked component of a successful marketing strategy – the press release.
Press releases are valuable for two reasons:
1. They are effective branding tools. If you operate a local agency, chances are not many people would recognize your agency’s logo or name if they saw it. Getting your name out and into local news sources is one way to improve that.
2. Press releases provide an opportunity to link back to your website. The fact that press releases are often picked up by multiple online publications improves the link profile of your site, which can impact overall SEO in a positive way. What does that mean? It means it can improve the likelihood of people finding your website online.
That’s great! You might be thinking. The trick here is that many insurance agencies struggle with writing press releases. For one, if you use a press release distribution vendor (which you should), you will need to write press releases that have an actual news hook or at least reference a news source in the headline or first paragraph.
That doesn’t sound too difficult, right? Well, in truth it can be challenging. How many times per year does your agency do something news worthy? How often, for example, do you fundraise for a local charity or partner with a local business to create an event or sponsor a community event? If the answer is “often,” that’s amazing! If you’re not writing press releases to promote those activities, your branding and online marketing strategy is really missing out.
If the answer is “not that often,” you may want to consider writing other types of press releases. By “other,” I mean press releases that are related to news events or seasonality. For example, in anticipation of the holiday season, some agencies wrote about how to avoid liquor liability claims when throwing holiday parties. Others wrote about how to avoid home insurance claims due to holiday decorations. The trick to writing these is that they need a news hook. In the first example, the news hook was an actual local news event involving a holiday party and a car accident. In the second example, the news hook involved recent statistics regarding house fires and holiday decorations.
In the next installment, I’ll get into the nitty gritty of how to write a press release that gets results for your insurance agency.Continue Reading »
Your friends have one, your parents have one, businesses are using it as well. Even businesses in the insurance marketing field are using Facebook to attract clients to their business. Today, just call Facebook “The Modern Phone Book.” Within it you will find names and locations of companies, telephone numbers, advertisements, even pictures and testimonials. So how exactly are businesses finding the time to sign on more and more clients? By doing exactly what Facebook promises to anyone who creates an account: taking the chance to make and sustain relationships. Simply creating and building a page can provide you even with the most instant form of contact from someone who’s interested.
Just see how powerful a Facebook page can be:
- Portal for Communication: You log in and you’re instantly connected. By putting your name and the name of your business out there people can search for you and you can search for them. What’s even better, you can use your exact location to find any business near yours and establish a presence in your very own community. Once you set up your profile you can keep your clients up-to-date with promotions you be running at the office.
- Relationship Builder: Immediately after you start the communication process you attract followers. People can become friends with you and follow your every post. You decide you may even want to start a contest or two to promote the newest deals – Facebook helps you accomplish all of that. Just post it, your friends will like it and possibly share it so their friends can see it. Kind of like the age-old math problem of “if you have 7 friends who have 7 friends who tell 7 friends…” The amount of people who can view and get information off of your page can be limitless when you harness it properly. This is a phenomenal tool for smaller, local businesses trying to get their name out there, but not necessarily needing to get it out nation-wide.
- Brand Management: This will come after the first two. How do you want your business to be viewed and perceived? Facebook will help get your name out there by using the social media site. Think of it as building a reputation. You wouldn’t buy a service from someone who continually kept getting bad reviews and turned out poor quality in their work. Your page can help let potential clients know who you are and precisely what you’re all about. The better you build up your brand with positive comments, the more likely someone is to refer you or come to you on a regular basis.
Just remember that with all the advantages that can benefit your company, there are just as many disadvantages when it comes to using Facebook as a marketing tool. However, once you learn why a Facebook account is vital for online marketing and branding today, you’ll soon realize what the worst practices are. Just make sure you get a solid grip on the best practices and you’re golden. Learn them well enough and Facebook will provide your business with a pretty successful looking future.
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Thinking outside the box and becoming more creative to generate leads is a great insurance marketing strategy for your insurance agency. Social media has become one of the leading ways to impact your community, generate interest, and draw in prospective clients. Whether you are heavily invested in Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you have got to start somewhere.
All of these social media sites provide different opportunities for your agency to brand itself on. As a leader in the insurance industry, you will want to use social media to integrate fundraising and community service into your agency. This creative and humbling Internet marketing tactic will not only bring you leads, but it will build a stronger community for your agency.
Integrating fundraising and community service into your social media strategy:
Through Facebook, you are going to be able to optimize your experience by creating interesting posts that people want to interact with. Through Twitter, you are going to be able to promote good things going on with your event or service to provide real time updates. And through LinkedIn you can update your initiative through your professional networking groups.
Being involved on a day to day basis with your Facebook friends and potential clients is a great way to generate new leads through social media. Creating a fundraiser or community service event to bring the community together, will not only benefit the non-profit or business you are donating your proceeds to, but it will benefit the community, and even better your agency. Think outside the box and bring people together through social media, and you will be guaranteed to build a larger and more beneficial community surrounding your insurance agency.Continue Reading »
When you first immerse yourself within the social media game, you are constantly bombarded with information about the heavy-hitters
You are told to focus your efforts on Facebook, Twitter and blogging—build a community, engage in conversation and form relationships—if you want to become a successful social media ninja then you have to tackle the biggest and boldest social sites first.
But what happens next?
Once you’ve found your social groove, and developed quite an active community of followers, it’s time to embrace a well-rounded, more blended social strategy. There are a variety of additional community-inducing platforms that you can weave into your current social media efforts.
One, which we at Astonish Results regard very highly, is Flickr—the photo and video-sharing tool. Over the past 2 years Flickr has certainly been evolving its clout as a social media outlet, although Facebook and Twitter still tend to steal the spotlight. However, despite the competition, Flickr has also experienced rapid growth and integration within various aspects of digital marketing. It currently hosts upwards of 5 billion images and its branding benefits are steadily increasing.
With the array of both personal and professional reasons to use Flickr, it’s important that agency owners focus on implementing this social resource as a means to:
- Enhance the company’s personal interaction with current its clients
- Build greater awareness and visibility of their agency brand
- Humanize their agency and showcase their individuality
- Conduct outreach campaigns and contests; driving potential clients and& increased traffic to your site(s)
Still skeptical? Astonish Results has seen incredible traction from our branded Flickr account. As a company we share an abundance of photos including snapshots from holiday parties, candids of our fearless leaders out on the road, agency visits and more. By promoting the images through our Facebook and Twitter accounts, we not only encourage clients and the surrounding community to comment, but also provide them with an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at Astonish culture. Allowing the consumer to step inside the world of your agency – and view things from a more personalized perspective – is a great asset to your branding and credibility.
So how can you begin to harvest the power of Flickr for your independent insurance agency?
Take a look at some of these helpful hints to get you started:
If you’re ready to take your social media efforts to the next level, why not begin with Flickr? With the ability to interact, comment, categorize and build up strategic contact lists, the platform provides you with the perfect opportunity to increase your online presence—all with the simple upload of photos. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Are you active on Flickr? Feel free share best practices with us below, we’d love to hear what you’re doing!
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When you think of search engine optimization (SEO), most likely the first thing that comes to mind is your website. You analyze your content, title tags and whether or not you chose the best keywords in general—but how often do you take into consideration your social media accounts?
With its growing popularity as a marketing portal – and its unique ability to effectively connect customers with brands – it makes sense that small business owners would be taking Facebook a bit more seriously.
With Facebook’s nearly endless opportunities for consumer engagement, it’s crucial that you take the necessary steps to ensure you are harvesting the social platform’s full potential—including your SEO efforts on the site. It’s the little things and strategic customization that can turn your Facebook page into a serious traffic-generator:
Give your page a clear, keyword-rich name—actually use the name of your business. May seem like common sense, right? You’d be surprised how many small business owners don’t realize how critical name recognition is—this isn’t the area of your account where you want to be creative. Use whatever your official company name is—this will most likely be the keyword your customers or potential Facebook fans will most often use when trying to search for you. Keep in mind that Facebook is a personal social networking platform, so don’t get carried away trying to appear for terms that you aren’t particularly relevant for. The more spammy and salesy you appear, the more Facebook users will want to avoid you—the goal is to reach your fans, not turn them off to your business completely.
Try a vanity URL. Recently, Facebook has allowed the opportunity for its users to “claim” a vanity URL for their specific page. For example, Astonish Results’ vanity URL is facebook.com/AstonishResultsRavingFans – it includes the company name and the Raving Fans reference, a key component of the company’s culture. A vanity URL can also be something as simple as your agency’s name – facebook.com/ABCInsuranceAgency – remember to keep it clean and simple; the point of a vanity URL is to make it easier for fans and customers to find your business page.
Use the About Box & Information Tab. Why wouldn’t you take full advantage of every opportunity to write descriptive, keyword-conscious content about your business? The About Box happens to be one of the few significant places on your business page that is accessible and utilized by the search engines. What may seem like just a little box in the left hand corner of your page actually provides you with a couple hundred characters to boast about your business, what you’re all about, what your employees are up to or even just share a bit of your agency’s culture. Every little bit helps, so make sure that whatever information you share is extremely valuable and relevant.
The Information Tab is another great source for keyword-rich content. Completing the Information Tab is critical to the success of your business page, because the more inclusive and thorough your page is, the more likely you are to show up in relevant searches. Facebook also allows you to provide links to other related pages or profiles, so make sure that you are using the Information Tab to draw traffic to other areas, such as your agency website, as well.
Build Links to your Facebook business page. The easiest way to build links – as well as increase your word of mouth marketing efforts – is to organically increase your number of fans. You want quality, authentic consumers to like your page, interact with you and inevitably share your business profile with others. To keep your fan base growing, you need to actually be social—keep the conversation going, pose questions, share your expert insight and dedicate sizeable time to your social networking initiatives.
Another powerful way to gain some traction and drive traffic to your social media account is to build links off site. This can easily be done by including links to your Facebook business page on your official website, on other social media or social networking sites in which you have a profile, as well as within any blog posts that you write. The more links you can build to your Facebook page the more credibility and authority you will give it.
All in all, it’s important that when thinking in terms of SEO that you don’t limit yourself to the obvious. Yes, social media is meant to be social – it’s all about building relationships and engaging your community – but you want your fans to be able to find you, right?
There’s no harm in boosting your social SEO – just remember to keep it simple, relevant and genuine.Continue Reading »
With the growing popularity of social networking, it can be easy for businesses to get caught up in all the latest and greatest social media marketing tips. The use of social media in search results is growing in popularity amongst all the search engines, not just Google. It’s important to understand the simple ways that you can improve you SEO through social media.
Search Engine Journal recently released an article regarding Twitter use for SEO that really drives this point home. It’s amazing what you can do for your SEO efforts through only 140 characters. Take a look at SEJ’s 10 tips to improve SEO through Twitter.
It’s a lot easier than you may think to build your brand through SEO. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make your brand name your Twitter username (i.e. AstonishResults). Or, if you’ve devoted a Twitter account to a specific product/location, then use that as your Twitter username (i.e. AutoInsurancePA). Using your brand name or target product as your Twitter name can increase your rankings through re-tweets, replies, etc. The more re-tweets your tweet receives, the higher your significance to that brand name or product will be.
Every Twitter account has a section for a biography; use this block of text to your advantage. Make sure you use your brand name, target products, and a link to your website in the bio section. To really boost conversions, make the website link a page on your site that has a form (i.e. the contact page).
When tweeting about a product you offer, make sure you include a link back to your site, preferably a page on your site that has a form and can convert traffic. It’s also important to make sure you include relevant keywords with the link, i.e. “Finding the right auto insurance in PA doesn’t have to be a hassle. Check out how we’re helping our customers! Insert Link Here”
The use of hash tags can play a big part in your SEO efforts. Hash tags serve your SEO like the meta data on your website serves your SEO. Hash tags help to organize tweets and indicate trends on Twitter. You can use them to your advantage when promoting a target product (i.e. #autoinsurancepa or #digitalmarketing).
When you mention someone on Twitter (i.e. @AstonishResults), the relevance to that person’s Twitter page will rise. Making sure you utilize the mention feature when posting to other Twitter members can ensure that they will do the same in return. Mentions from others to your Twitter page can help boost your relevance in search.
Helping others boost their presence on Twitter is a great way to get the same respect in return. Not only can this make it more likely that other Twitter users will re-tweet your posts or mention you in their posts, it can also help build your target market. For example, re-tweeting someone else’s tweets on auto insurance in PA can help boost your relevance to the term auto insurance in PA in search engine results.
One of the key principles in tweeting is not to over tweet or “bulk tweet.” This is a principle from an SEO standpoint as well. Bulk tweeting can make your Twitter account appear like spam to the search engines, thus hurting your relevance in search engine results pages. Bulk tweeting can make you appear as a robot, which Google especially does not tolerate. Make sure you spread out your tweets – if you get a lot of great ideas at once, write them down and post them in intervals throughout the day.
This is a basic practice that can really boost your Twitter’s relevance. Whether you blog onsite, offsite, or both, make sure you push links to your posts through Twitter. This provides another outlet for links to your blog posts. Encourage re-tweets to your blog links as well. Pushing your blog posts through tweets can encourage people to read your post, comment on them, and interact with you on Twitter with their feedback.
Most of our clients have social media buttons/links on their websites, so this is something that requires no effort on your part. Having the Twitter button on your site shows prospects that you’re available to interact with – in fact, having all of your social media linked to buttons on your site is something everyone should be doing.
Just as Twitter helps build relevance to your general brand name, it also helps prospects see that you have an online brand too. With insurance agencies especially, prospects can have a hard time seeing past the brick and mortar office and accept you as an online brand. You have to use tools like Twitter to show customers and prospects that you are fully accessible online as well as in your office. Building your online brand also shows customers and prospects that you are available to them outside of normal business hours – for some, it’s all about convenience.
These are basic practices of using Twitter, but sometimes seeing how they work for purposes outside of just social presence, like for SEO, can help to drive the point home. Have any Twitter suggestions for SEO that I didn’t include? Tweet me at @astonish_shawna!
An insurance agency, or any business for that matter, is only as socially savvy as the person making the status updates, tweets and blog entries. Ryan Hanley, an independent agent from New York recently highlighted the importance of personal branding in an interview with Rick Morgan and Peter Van Aartrijk on Insurance Journal ‘s May 24, “On Point” podcast, It’s No Longer an Experiment.
In the interview, Hanley states, “Most of the time when people buy insurance, they aren’t buying the agency name, they’re buying the producer, that’s who they trust and who comes to sit in their office…I wanted to brand myself as someone who is there for the relationship, to teach, to be able to connect people and all the things that a producer should be able to do in this online format.”
We touched on the importance of trust in a previous post (Are you an agent of trust?) and there’s no doubt trust is at the foundation of a loyal agent – customer relationship. For the purposes of this post, however, we’ll discuss how social networking, blogging and other online activities can contribute to an individual agent rising above the agency they represent to become an insurance resource and better producer.
Coincidentally, a day after the On Point interview went live, a blog post from respected blogger and current Chief Branding Officer for Outspoken Media, Lisa Barone appeared on BruceClay.com, How to Build Your Brand Working For Someone Else. While not insurance-industry specific, the post highlights five areas where companies will benefit from having a strong individual brand working within the marketing infrastructure:
- When there’s more interest in you, there’s more interest in the company as a whole.
- Your personal success and connections can be leveraged by the company you work for.
- You become a more efficient worker thanks to quicker access to information and contacts via your network.
- A company with two (or three. Or four!) A-listers is more interesting and worth more than a company with 1 A-lister.
- Today’s market place is social. Users want to connect with people, not logos.
Understandably, many insurance agency owners are nervous putting individuals ahead of the business as a marketable commodity. Fortunately, as more owners learn to embrace the social web, the value of a web-savvy networker (or two) will be seen as increasingly important to marketing efforts for all the reasons listed above. Furthermore, it provides a carrot on a stick for the industry to dangle in front of young, web-savvy talent, something the insurance industry lacks.
Owners may also take comfort in knowing that social media users don’t need to be the end-all, be-all marketing mavens writing blog entries, producing Youtube videos, managing the Facebook page and handling every aspect of a social media insurance marketing program. Sometimes it’s better if they’re NOT. According to Ms. Barone:
“Whoever you are, you have some skill that no one else in the organization has and something that you can use to build a name and provide value back to the company. Figure out what that thing is and change how you work to leverage the hell out of it.”
We can’t all be Pulitzer winning writers or Don King-sized personalities, but we can all take what and who we know and turn it into something useful for our employers. The ability to build and nurture our web presence into a more supportive online community is what lies at the heart of the social media ROI debate. Followers, comments and visitors are useful metrics, but can the value of relationships be quantified?
The answer, not easily; and the most experienced social media practitioners will tell you, it’s all about relationships and conversations, not sites, tools or technology. Relationships can’t be built with agency logos, signs or front doors. Brand ambassadors need to be personalities that teach, connect and collaborate in such a way that the agency benefits just by being the employer.
“Your personal brand is a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.” Jason HartmanContinue Reading »