Jul 01 2023 / Round the Table Magazine
Putting strategy into social media
A silly picture of you eating an ice cream cone has nothing to do with your practice, right?
Actually, when it comes to social media, Ploirath Essarum has seen that anything can start a conversation — and it’s often the noninsurance-related topics that precede discussions about her work.
“Once someone posts a comment in response to anything I post, I can now engage with them, starting off with asking how they are and what they are doing now, and then they will ask me,” said the three-year MDRT member from Bangkok, Thailand. “People see what you do, and that creates authenticity and trust.”
This is why Essarum — who handles 200 households, comprising everything from ex-boyfriends to professional colleagues to referrals — loves posting Instagram stories about food, travel and anything she thinks will be funny or inspire people to comment. (She avoids negative or political subjects that could lead to arguments or discomfort.) But she also emphasizes that social media — which is more popular than call centers and email for handling customer service issues, according to a report by international telecommunications and tech giant Infobip about managing customer service complexity in Asia-Pacific markets — presents an essential opportunity for advisors to differentiate their content across different platforms.
This omnichannel approach reaches different people and provides targeted prospecting in which people self-select, whereas with cold calling, the caller has no idea about the person’s existing interest.
Perhaps you are thinking, “Well, I really only like Facebook” or “My target market is all on Twitter.” Essarum, who used to work as a director of sales and marketing, has done deep dives into the algorithms that drive different platforms and the tendency to see the same people repeatedly in each place.
“If we have 1,000 friends on this channel, it is not necessarily true that all 1,000 friends will be able to see us,” she said. “Only people who constantly engage with us can see us. This is the main reason why the message that we send out may not reach our intended targets.”
This, she says, is more reason to diversify where and what you post, to reach different people. Initiating conversations, pressing the like button and posting comments also will expand the limited scope of interactions as well.
Social media allows for efficiency and conciseness in a world with an increasingly shrinking attention span. These posts reach people on their own schedule and can serve as digital connection points for common interests and new relationships.
Essarum particularly enjoys Instagram stories for two reasons: they only last 24 hours and therefore feel more casual (hence the focus on lifestyle and food). Also, comments are private and lead to direct, personal conversation rather than a public discussion.
A public Instagram post, on the other hand, is less likely to receive a response if it is about insurance, Essarum says. But she is confident that people are seeing the posts and will contact her if it triggers their pain point now or in the future. Otherwise, the posts can feature beautiful, lifestyle-focused images that continue to drive conversation and engagement.
For LinkedIn, Essarum clearly states what she wants, such as if she is recruiting other advisors. She uses Facebook posts for carefully considered insurance-related information, whether product-driven hard sales or knowledge-based soft sales that aim to create interest and inquiries. Essarum notes, however, that many channels, including Facebook and YouTube, require regular updates and planning to build out the content and audience.
“You must be very patient,” she said. “Don’t give up easily, as it might take eight months to a year of posting before you receive the engagements you want.”
Of course, this takes time and effort. Currently, Essarum (who does have an assistant to handle administrative tasks) is doing this all on her own but is considering hiring a third party to handle content marketing, production and posting. Otherwise, she recognizes details can be overlooked, such as messages from 2020 accidentally marked as spam that actually were expats asking for insurance quotes and answered recently.
“Sometimes I post on too many channels and forget what and where it was posted,” Essarum said. But she emphasizes that quantity is important, as well as recognizing the potential relationships that can be sparked over time.
“Our friends on social media have already seen us for a long time, so a relationship is naturally formed. Though we might not have met them face to face, they know of us and see what we are doing through these channels,” she said. “They may keep watching us until the day they are sufficiently confident in us and decide to send us some message asking about insurance matters. They might just want some consultation, take out some policies for themselves or even recommend us to their friends.”