Social Media Still A Mystery to Life Insurance Brokers
Why are so few life insurance brokers using social media?
I had the pleasure of attending an educational workshop in Kananaskis, Alberta a week ago, which included the use of social media by the life insurance community. During that two day conference, put on by PPI Solutions in Calgary, there were two presentations about insurance advisors and financial planners starting to use social media. This is in stark contrast to just one year ago when the topic of social media and internet marketing was not even on the radar screen.
How quickly the message has changed from the life insurance companies who were making the presentations about using social media. I remember a year ago I was at another educational day, and the company rep from one of Canada’s leading life insurance companies was talking about how the internet gives clients misinformation, and it was the job of insurance brokers to cut through the internet clutter and bring the truth about life insurance planning. How things have changed in just one year. Now the message clearly is to get online and participate in creating the online message and influence it.
Regulations prevent life insurance brokers from engaging social media
Many life insurance brokers are also licensed to sell mutual funds and/or stocks and bonds. The regulatory bodies that govern the sale and distribution of such investment products have much stricter rules about advertising, communication and the use of social media. It is both the regulators and the dealerships who manage the individual sales people who have not yet figured out how to use social media. They are concerned that clients will get the wrong information and there will be liability issues back to the dealership and investment company that manufactures the mutual fund or other investment product.
So, in order to protect themselves from a perceived threat that social media might bring, they have not allowed their salespeople to use platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. The life insurance industry and its regulators are not so strict, and have not put barriers in the way of pure life insurance brokers from using social media. That is why Life Guard Insurance is so active on all social media platforms and blogs articles like this one regularly.
The day is coming when investment advisors will be allowed to use social media, in some limited fashion. Most product information will have to be vetted by marketing departments of dealerships and mutual fund companies, so the ability to share information quickly will probably not come for these advisors anytime soon.
Technical and internet ignorance holds life insurance brokers back
Another thing holding life insurance brokers back from using social media is their lack of technical savvy when using the internet and technology in general. With the average age of life insurance brokers in Canada around 57, most brokers grew up in an era when computers were not used to illustrate life insurance to clients. This was an era of face-to-face communication, selling concepts and ideas, and finally taking weeks to illustrate and actual solution using head office plans mailed to advisors or crunching numbers themselves using insurance rate books.
Today, any life insurance company in Canada has software that can give you the most detailed and complex life insurance policy illustration in a matter of minutes. Yet, even with such power at their fingertips, I know many life insurance brokers who are reluctant to open their computer in front of a client for fear it would interrupt the sale. These same life insurance brokers would find it very challenging to set up a Twitter account, start tweeting, have a Facebook fan page, and get their LinkedIn profile to 100%.
Unrealistic expectations of business outcomes from using social media
What have most people heard about social media and the internet? It is the best way to build your brand; your message can go viral; attracting followers/friends is easy and can pay huge dividends. These sorts of messages are true, for some internet marketers who really know what they are doing. For most life insurance brokers, they should expect to use social media as a way to stay connected with their regular clients and share information to a small circle of influence.
When the ‘viral’ effect of the internet doesn’t happen immediately when they post their first video or article, they get discouraged and abandon social media. How many Twitter accounts have been set up by small business, quickly to be abandoned and the tweets stop? Well over 50%. Regular life insurance brokers don’t realize that social media takes work, and an ongoing dedication to creating and sharing information on a regular basis. Influence grows with consistent, high quality content and a commitment to share valuable info with your network. There is no magic bullet, or instance viral message we can create. There is a commitment to being part of the community and sharing the message, day in and day out.
‘Return on investment’ hard to measure from social media
So, what can a life insurance broker expect to get out of being a part of social media? New customers, recognition as an expert in their field, streamlining their business? Well, yes they can, but only in time. The quick return on investment is hard to measure, since there are few immediate results from joining the conversation. The new customers will not flock to you at first. People will not ‘follow’ or ‘like’ you immediately out of the gate. It takes time to build trust and influence within the communities you participate in. Especially if those communities are not groups of like minded life insurance brokers. Influencing general consumers is much harder to do, and they will expect a consistent message and regular updates as part of the community.
In affect, social media is one of the pillars of internet marketing. And internet marketing is a serious opportunity to grow your business, if done right. It requires a solid marketing plan, expertise in crafting messages online, running a dynamic website, and creating interactive online communities, via ALL the social media platforms. You need to reach you clients where they like to hang out. You can’t expect them all to come to you just because you posted a pretty website. Life insurance brokers have to get online, share their knowledge, gat active in their community and share valuable info across all social media platforms.
Life Guard Insurance is dedicated to online marketing and curating information via social media
Here at Life Guard Insurance we are dedicated to building our online presence and sharing information via all forms of social media. Check us out on all the following social platforms:
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The article was written by +Mitch Reynolds. If you found this article interesting or it made you think, please feel free to share your comments below. Liking us on Facebook, giving us a +1 on Google or Tweeting this article about life insurance brokers not using social media would be very much appreciated.