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The Relationship Between Social Media and Sales (Hint: It’s Complicated)

You can’t avoid it. Social media (in one form or another) is everywhere.

It wasn’t always like that. As little as 10 years ago, the vast majority of people had never heard of Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Twitter, or MySpace (remember MySpace? Me neither). I remember being a sophomore in college and logging onto “The Face Book” – back when it was a social network strictly for college students. And now? It’s a multi-billion dollar social media/business empire.

So it was only a matter of time until this new social phenomenon permeated other aspects of our society, including our businesses. Now you have not only a dedicated social network for professionals (LinkedIn), large (and small, and every size in between) business pages on Facebook, and Twitter feeds from every imaginable corporation and industry. Like it or not, social media is now integrated into our lives, and it’s here to stay.

So how do we take advantage of this, and use it to benefit our practices? How do we use it to boost our SALES? After all, isn’t that our bottom line???

About six months ago, we posted on this topic and asked producers like you how they were utilizing social media, in all its forms (Check out that post HERE for a refresher). We got a variety of responses, but the consensus seemed to be that many insurance brokers felt unsure of how to utilize social media in regards to their practices. What’s that? Tell us more about it, you say? Don’t mind if I do!

There are multiple of schools of thought when it comes to social media and business, and I wanted to address two of the most prevalent ones. The first school of thought is to actively pursue sales via social media – from promoting products and services via websites, blogs, email, or Twitter, to using YouTube or other social video sites to reach new clientele, to using sites like LinkedIn for prospecting and lead generation. No matter how you cut it, businesses have wholeheartedly jumped on the social media bandwagon in an effort to carve out their piece of the profits.

And it’s working too – check out some of these stats. (Courtesy of SocialMediaToday.com)

  • 500 years of YouTube videos are watched on Facebook every day
  • 99% of US online specialty retailers use YouTube, up from 93% in 2012
  • 70% of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired a customer through Facebook
  • Facebook users share 2.5B pieces of content on the site each day (Yes, that’s a “B” – as in BILLION!)
  • 43% of US marketers have found a customer through LinkedIn
  • Twitter users send 400M tweets each day
  • 50% of technology companies have acquired a customer through Twitter

The second school of thought is a little less “in your face” about the topic of social media – these users subscribe to a different theory. Instead of using social media to directly sell products, these businesses prefer to use their social media marketing more passively – to educate and inform. This strategy aims to demostrate a business’s industry experience and expertise, and therefore develop their personal brand. Although a less-direct method, many in our industry have adopted this tactic. According to Senia Gramajo, President of AgentLink Marketing,

“Traditional sales and marketing are used to directly promote and sell products. On the other hand, PR and branding is about generating goodwill and earning the trust of your target audience. Effective public relations is the foundation of a successful advertising campaign. We know from research the two reasons why people do business with others: they like them and they trust them.You can earn the admiration and trust of your public with PR tools such as social media.” – AgentLink Marketing Blog

So which is the “right” way to market to your clients via social media? Unfortunately, that is a question you have to answer yourself. But don’t worry – the answer is easier than you may think! Take a close look at your business, and your clients – after all, no one knows your clients better than you do! Try to determine which of the above methods your clients would be most receptive to. Many advisors these days seem to be choosing to try a varied approach – alternating between more educational/informational content and traditional “sales” pitches for their products and services. The key is to strike the right balance that works for YOUR clients.

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