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Facing Fears Part V – Social Media is a Time Waster

01/13/2010

 In the Facing Fears Series we’re tackling the things that make independent insurance agents nervous about using social media. Feel free to chime in: What are your fears about opening the agency up to social media? What makes you nervous?

Did you ever have a teacher who was famous for over-planning and under-producing? My sophomore High School English teacher was famous for over-planning. He would break out his calendar and the syllabus and formally rehash his scheduled lesson plan for the next few weeks… at the start of every class. His tendency was to spend most of the 42 minute period organizing the schedule, adjusting for holidays, half days, fire drills, and potential snow days. Clearly, little time was left for the actual lessons. Inevitably, we would get to “test day” and many of us would fail, not having the instruction to complement the reading we did as homework. (And really, most of us gave up on the homework, too.)

This story illustrates just how easy it is to get caught up in one small aspect of your daily work, while leaving other things to flounder, and unfortunately wasting immense amounts of time. Many agents fear that social media use can become a time waster far too easily.

In my opinion, almost anything can be a time-waster and social media is no exception. It’s easy to get caught up in one action to the detriment of everything else. Ever get lost in an excel spreadsheet? Drown in your inbox? Spend all day in meetings? Time can leak out from a lot of places – social media is just one of many and honestly, if the time spent in one place doesn’t help propel you to your ultimate goals, then a readjustment is in order.

Atlanta, Georgia based independent agent Chris Jordan, wrote a great post last week on this topic – How Social Media Can Eat Your Life. I liked it because while Chris is a big proponent of social media, he is also honest. He knows there is the potential for social media tools to be more plan than action – more potatoes than meat – more rice than tofu for (my fellow vegetarian readers).

But does this potential for time wasting outweigh the potential for positive returns? I find it doubtful.

Have you stopped attending meetings? Or disabled your inbox? Probably not. Instead, you’ve found ways to work smarter and be more efficient despite the potential to go the other way.  

Coming up…On Friday I’ll be sharing some tips to help curb the urge to let social media be a time waster.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/13/2010 11:40 am

    First of all Melissa, thank you for the mention! I appreciate you! You’ve written a great article here, and I like your approach in tackling this subject. I hope that 2010 is a year where more agents begin to tackle social media & blogging because the things you can gain from it are immense!

    As tools that are virtually free (outside of the time expenditure) I firmly believe that they can not only help expand an agency’s exposure, but also put us in a position to compete with the direct writers in the online space. It is not enough on today’s Internet to simply have a website. You must have a presence. There is a difference.

    Finding balance, developing an online strategy, and executing it are the critical components – nothing more, nothing less – no Farmville & no Mafia Wars. Like anything, the Internet can be a time drain… but if leveraged correctly, it can become a gateway to new opportunity.

  2. 01/13/2010 5:36 pm

    Thank you Chris for your thoughtful comment. I’ve been enjoying the updates on your sites. I too, am hoping that as agents become more involved in the social web – bringing their business and some of their personal lives into the mix – that the gains will outweigh the fears.

    And great point – these (mostly) free tools are a viable way to create a web presence and compete with direct writers.

    The MA marketplace is slightly different, as compared to some other states, when it comes to the direct writers. However that might be changing considering what’s been seen in the past 2 years with managed auto competition.

    Of course building a web presence takes time. The time to start building a web presence is before the direct writers – or the agency down the street for that matter – starts to scoop up business. It’s not all about new leads- it’s also about retaining the current business.

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