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Top 3 Tips for Making the Most of Your Time with Social Media – Part 2

05/25/2011

Time for Part 2 from guest blogger and MAIA member, Heidi Warner, eMarketing Executive at Encharter Insurance, LLC.  Heidi has compiled her Top 3 Social Media Time Management Tips and will be sharing them over the next 3 days. Find Part 1 here.

TIP 2: Social Media Dashboards

Social media dashboards are great tools for making more of your time when it comes to your social media marketing strategy.  A social media dashboard is a program or Internet website that allows you to manage all of your social media accounts at once.  Two great examples (and recommendations) are HootSuite.com and Tweetdeck.  Here’s what a social media dashboard will allow you to do:

  • Gives you access to multiple social media outlets from one login; e.g. if you have a Facebook account and a Twitter account, you would be able to access both at the same time with a social media dashboard.
  • Post to multiple social media accounts at one time with the same message.
  • Post to only one account at a time with different messages.
  • Post links, photos and videos with your tweets and posts (Tweetdeck does not allow for the posting of multimedia to Facebook accounts, only Twitter).
  • Schedule posts so that you can stick to your posting schedule, even while you are away from your computer and the Internet.
  • Save your searches for certain keywords over social media.

Again, because of the versatility of a social media dashboard, it can really make your time more efficient. However, there are two caveats:

1) Scheduling posts all the time can make you a more efficient content-generator, but the interactions with your fans and followers will drop significantly. Don’t forget that it’s called “social” media for a reason…BE SOCIAL and interact with your fans and followers! Authentic and frequent interaction with your fans and followers is just as important as a consistent flow of content.

2) Social media dashboards allow you to post to your pages, but don’t ignore the other administrative capabilities you have when you actually visit the social media sites. Don’t forget to freshen up your Facebook and Twitter accounts with new pictures and backgrounds; update your info with any news about your business that people would be interested in reading. Visit your pages through the “real” social media outlets at least once a week to stay on top of things and mix things up a bit. 

Remember, search engines love fresh content and that includes changing up the information on your pages that otherwise would have remained static.

Previously… Part 1 – Commitment & Consistency
Coming Up Next…Part 3 – Guest Bloggers

Top 3 Tips for Making the Most of Your Time with Social Media – Part 1

05/24/2011

The following is the first in a short series of posts by guest blogger and MAIA member, Heidi Warner, eMarketing Executive at Encharter Insurance, LLC.  Heidi has compiled her Top 3 Social Media Time Management Tips and will be sharing them over the next 3 days. 

Effective time management is an attribute of a healthy business model that must flow out into all areas of any business striving for success.  So, like any other small business, the independent insurance agency must be especially fluent with effective time management; after all, there are only so many hands available to take on a lot of work. 

One of the most difficult areas to apply time management skills is in the insurance agency’s Social Media Marketing Strategy.  As one of the eMarketing Executives at Encharter Insurance, I am very aware of both the value of social media and the value of making the most of your time in the use of social media in growing your business.  So for those independent agents who want to get on the social media marketing bandwagon, BUT they don’t know how they are going to fit it into their busy, entrepreneurial schedule, have no fear!  I’ve compiled my Top 3 Tips for Making the Most of Your Time with Social Media:

TIP 1: Commitment & Consistency

Commitment and consistency are crucial to a successful and efficient social media marketing strategy.  Social media marketing is not a quick band-aid fix to your search engine optimization (SEO) issues with your website; it is a long-term cure.  That being said, it takes time and it will not make your website appear on the first page of Google overnight, so being patient and “sticking to your guns” because you know it works is vital.

Staying committed should be easy enough because you already know that social media WILL help your website; if you know it works, why wouldn’t you stay committed? The harder of the two (by far) is consistency. Posting to your blog or Facebook page will do you no good if you post everyday for the first three months and then you don’t touch it for the next three.  Even if you post to your blog once a week and your Facebook page three times a week, that is best. Pick a posting schedule that you know you can commit to and stick to it! It’s like the old adage says, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Stay tuned for TIP 2 tomorrow…

Now Playing: the Independent Agents of Massachusetts

03/11/2011

Last Fall MAIA, with the help of AngelVision Technologies, produced a short movie about the important role that independent agents play in Massachusetts.

As an agent, you know the role you play. You live it every day….from last minute requests for certificates of insurance to full reviews of commercial accounts. Your services help to protect your clients’ assets, keep them in compliance with laws and regulations, and navigate the often confusing world of claims. And of course, we know what you do! As your association, MAIA is proud to represent so many agents who take pride in their profession and perform their jobs so well.  

But ask yourself this…How many of your clients understand the role you play as their agent? And how many of them only truly “get it” after a loss?

The movie was designed to help educate consumers about this very topic. Local Independent Agents are more than “middlemen” as some of the national commercials would have you believe. Massachusetts Independent Agents represent big themes: Value, Relationships, Personal Service, Local Knowledge, and Trust to name a few.

We invite you to use and share this movie with others in your office, with your clients, and your friends and family. Make sure your networks know what you do and the role you play.

Head over to massagent.com for the full scoop about using the movie. You can email us to obtain the full flash files  or download the mp4 version from our website. There is even an option to personalize this to your agency for a fee.

MAIA Young Agents Committee

03/07/2011

Attention Young Agents!!

MAIA is reforming the Massachusetts Young Agents Committee in 2011. As the staff liaison, I look forward to working with a group of Young Agents (agents under 40 or those with less than 10 years in the biz) to plan the year’s events. The first meeting will take place this week and after that I’m sure there will be plenty more to share.

A successful committee is one that is meaningful to the people it serves. So, this is what I’d love to know….What do YOU want to see in a Young Agents Committee? What type of events do YOU want to attend?  What type of correspondence do YOU want to see?

While we have a basic road map, there are many options and directions we can go. If you have any ideas or feedback, I will gladly relay all comments to the committee.   Please feel free to leave feedback in the comments or send an email to mmurphy@massagent.com.

And please, pass this on all the Young Agents in your office!

A New Wave in Customer Testimonials?

02/01/2011

Here’s a question to get us started in 2011…How are you using customer testimonials? Are they on your website and in your social media profiles? Or do they merely exist in the minds of your best clients?

 Testimonials and real customer opinions help to build and establish trust with prospective customers and they assist us when making purchasing decisions on the web. What used to be relegated to the backs of tri-fold brochures, now takes center stage on many websites, and for good reason.

 Let me guess….Your agency handles testimonials in one of the following ways….

  1. There is a page on the agency website called “Customer Testimonials”. The agency selected the best 4 or 5 on file and they live on that page.
  2. The agency asked ten clients to provide some written feedback. Four responded after you called in a favor and they are quoted on the agency website in various locations.
  3. A few happy customers have left positive feedback for the agency on Facebook. You’re psyched and briefly consider deleting all subsequent posts so that those comments stay front and center.
  4. The agency knows that happy satisfied customers exist, but no one is using their feedback at all.

 

In days past, testimonials were hand selected to appear on a brochure, flier or web page. However, online retailers like Amazon and Zappos have made reviews a central part of the buying experience. Customer opinions are now visible on many sites, warts and all, and consumers are more aware than ever of what a testimonial or review reveals about a business.  Additionally, the transparency factor surrounding reviews and testimonials has increased by about….a million percent. A few written words is great, but is it enough?

 

Take a quick look at the way Vent Smart Dryer Vent Cleaning  and Zco Corporation are treating their testimonials.  These testimonials go in a different direction than the standard one-liners.

What do you think? Are these ideas worth it? Do they make a difference?  
 
 

 

(hat tip to @ducttape for the link to Vent Smart)

Happy Holidays from MAIA

12/23/2010

MAIA wishes you a wonderful and festive Holiday Season.

Our office will be closed on Friday, December 24th
and will close at 2pm on Friday, December 31st.

image credit: notmartha

Agent Interview with Carolyn Medugno of the Philbin Insurance Group

12/20/2010

As agencies navigate Managed Competition, the recession, the new influences of digital marketing, and the growing pains of service to sales, the needs of Personal Lines account managers have changed a bit. One of MAIA’s newest offerings is the Certified Professional in Personal Lines (CPPL) Designation, which has been designed specifically for the Personal Insurance Professionals of Massachusetts.

Carolyn Medugno, the Operations Manager at Philbin Insurance Group, spoke with me recently about her experience so far with the CPPL Designation. She has taken the first two classes and offered to share the following about her experience:

Why did you start the CPPL designation?
I did not realize when I took the PIP class last year that there were 4 more parts for another designation.  But I took the PIP at the Big Event because it sounded very interesting & I always prefer to take a full day class.

 PIP was new last year and is only offered at The Big Event and you were one of the first people to complete the course. What is different about the PIP course as compared with the typical CE class?
The difference with PIP was it gave me an overall foundation of insurance.  With all the day to day work & changes in the MA auto I think most of the basic info that I have known for 30+ years gets pushed to the back of my brain. (i.e. what is a captive insurer – mutual ins co – reinsurance etc.).  I always knew what they were but it was good to get a refresher.

Service to Sales is a hot topic in the Independent Agency these days.  How important is it for Personal Lines Account Managers to recognize the difference between proactive and reactive customer service?
It is HUGE to know the difference between proactive & reactive.  Fortunately, my (female) boss is very proactive.  We have saved many clients by being proactive.  We send surveys to our clients twice a month & many clients reply that that they would like more frequent contact.  We contact our clients by phone & mail/email 90 days prior to expiration.

Do you think that customers have come to expect proactive service from their agent? Is that becoming the norm?
Proactive is definitely becoming the norm for the clients & they do expect it.  When they don’t hear from the agent who wants to make sure they are getting all the available discounts, they are likely to contact Progressive.    

Getting the Total Account was designed to address this change in agency culture. Did you go back to the office with anything to implement right away?
The Total Account was great.  What I liked was that the change in agency culture that Chris discussed showed me what a great job my boss has done by forcing us to be proactive.  It has not always been easy, but we are building on our current client base by rounding out accounts. Our retention rate is much better than it was 6 months ago.  Our agency seems to be way ahead of the game and is already doing most of the things that were discussed.    What I did implement as soon as I went back to the office was a time management (folder) system for the CSRs.  Some resisted when I discussed it a meeting but even the most disorganized CSR has become organized within a 2 week period.  It was a miracle.

To finish the designation, you still have to take Loss Control & Prevention, The Whole Person, and Comprehensive Personal Lines Coverage. Which are you most looking forward to and why?

I think I’m most looking forward to the “Whole Person” since I believe that you often have to be reprogrammed to work better.  I saw how well the Time Management system worked just by making a few changes. Many of our employees are over 40 & sometimes it true that “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”

Congratulations, Carolyn, on passing the first two parts of the Certified Professional in Personal Lines (CPPL) Designation! I’m sure you’ll fly through the next 3 parts!

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