The Social Media Landscape

One reason agents say they are not utilizing social media in their marketing is because they don't know which networks to start with. Should you create accounts across all of the platforms or focus on just one or two? Which one is the most important? Do more accounts mean more exposure?

According to EbizMBA's study (http://ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites), 2015's most popular social networking sites, in order, are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, VK, Flickr, Vine, Meetup, Tagged, Ask.fm, MeetMe, and ClassMates. It's no wonder agents are overwhelmed by the social media landscape. There are so many options! Let's get into a bit more detail on some of the more relevant networks.

Facebook
"The Facebook Page celebrates how our friends inspire us, support us, and help us discover the world when we connect." (https://www.facebook.com/facebook/info/?tab=page_info

All about casually connecting with others, "Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them." (https://www.facebook.com/facebook/info/?tab=page_info)

Facebook has successfully created a digital environment for people to seek out and promote personal relationships.

Features:

  • Tagging: You can tag friends in pictures, statuses, and comments. 
  • Sharing: If you see a post you find interesting, or want to promote, you can share the post for your friends and/or followers to see.
  • Trending: In the sidebar, you will find a list of trending topics on Facebook. These topics range from politics to celebrities to world news, and much more. 

What's Expected:

  • Stories and topics that are personal to you: Fans will be more interested if you sound genuinely interested.
  • Personal information: In this case, since you will be using Facebook for business, we'll look at this expectation a bit differently. Advisors should only share personal information that relates to their business. What are you personal financial techniques? What sources have helped you in the insurance arena? What do you love about helping others with their finances?
  • Include others: You should think of your Facebook page as an ongoing conversation. Be sure to respond to engaged visitors, and help them feel connected to you.
  • Use surveys: Everybody wants the opportunity to contribute and feel important. Ask questions that your experience tells you are important to your clients.

Twitter
"Connect with your friends - and other fascinating people. Get in-the-moment updates on the things that interest you. And watch events unfold, in real time, from every angle... Businesses use Twitter to share information about their services, gather real-time market intelligence, and build relationships with customers, partners and influencers." (https://twitter.com)

Twitter may seem overwhelming, but it is actually one of the simplest methods for staying in touch with people. Twitter's self-imposed character limit of 140 makes it unique and quick. You want to comment and interact on Twitter, but don't do so just to be "present." Make sure your input is relevant, and is a genuine attempt to connect. People will stop following your if they feel you are only here because you think you need to be. Twitter is a great way for people who share interests to connect and converse. Be yourself! Twitter might be right for you if you want to have an ongoing, simple conversation with people in your world, if you like to say a little at a time and often.

Features:

  • @username: The "@" symbol is used to tag another user. Using "@username" will notify the other user that your are replying to or mentioning them.
  • #word: The "#," or hashtag, is used to add your post to a category. Beginning a word with # makes it a searchable link. The link leads to a list of all tweets with that #word. Keep in mind, when hashtagging, that you should not include spaces or punctuation marks/symbols in your tag. For example, you would want to say "#LearnSocialMarketing" rather than "#Learn Social Marketing!!"

What's Expected:

  • Post links to your website
  • Broadcast promotional contests
  • Post links to information on topics that interest you
  • Share your solutions to problems you may share with others
  • If you write a blog, post an announcement about new blog entries

LinkedIn
"Our mission is simple: connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do." (https://www.linkedin.com)

LinkedIn is considered to be the Facebook of the business world. It is meant for professional networking.

Features:

  • Groups: A more exclusive way to connect with professionals who you don't already know, but share a similar position or career with.
  • About Section: Your LinkedIn about section is essentially your resume. There are fields for your experience, education, and skills.
  • Recommendations & Endorsements: You can publicly recommend someone you've worked with (and vice versa) in a statement that shows up on their profile. You can also, without writing anything, endorse users for their skills. 

What's Expected:

LinkedIn users will expect you to add useful information to professional discussions. Whether you add your personal insight or links to articles you've read, your input should always be relevant and helpful as it would be at a networking event or meeting. LinkedIn might be right for you if you want to connect with others who are in your field of business either directly or in an affiliate role.


Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the largest/most popular of the networks. Let's take a look at some of the other popular networks:


Pinterest.png

Pinterest
"A place to discover ideas for all your projects and interests, hand-picked by people like you." (http://about.pinterest.com/en)

Pinterest is much more casual than LinkedIn, and more creative than Facebook or Twitter. It's like a digital vision board.

Features:

Pinterest is all about collecting and pinning ideas, products, places, etc. that interest you. You can create various boards for different topics. You can event invite others to collaborate on your boards.

What's Expected:

If you choose to try Pinterest, it's important to understand that this is not the place for lengthy descriptions or conversations. It's all about the visuals. 

Google+
"With Google+, you can share links, videos, pictures, and other content with people who share your interests. And you can see what other people have shared in your stream." (https://support.google.com/plus/answer/6320392?hl=en&ref_topic=6320376)

Another Facebook-like network, Google+ is not as large, but is very connected.

Features:

  • Google Circles: Your connections at Google+ can be grouped into "circles." This allows you to target your various groups with the information that is appropriate for them. You might have, for example, a professional circle, a family circle, and a friend circle, so that you can keep your business and personal activity separated within the network.
  • Google Hangouts: This allows you to connect with your network in audio or video format right in your browser (meaning that no additional software or downloads required).

What's Expected:

Google+ has the technology, but is not the most popular network, so it may be worthwhile to see if your network is on Google+ before committing to it.

Instagram
"Take a picture or video, choose a filter, to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram - it's that easy. You can even share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more. It's a new way to see the world." (http://instagram.com)

Instagram is about giving people a peek into your day.

Features:

You can upload photos or videos, accompanied by a short description and #hashtags. Remember, hashtags help make your post discoverable to users interested in a certain topic.

What's Expected:

Like Pinterest, it is all about the visuals - long comments and discussions are not for Instagram.