Insurance Market Source turns to Jennifer Grazel, LinkedIn’s director of global vertical marketing — financial services, for insight into using social media to promote the “Brand of You.”
As director of global vertical marketing—financial services for LinkedIn, Jennifer Grazel focuses on effective social media marketing techniques for professionals in the financial and insurance sectors. She develops, curates, and shares critical content with the financial industry, helps clients understand how to use social media to empower market strategy and thought leadership, and manages LinkedIn’s financial vertical. Under her leadership, in less than three years the financial sector’s presence on LinkedIn has grown more than 400%.
IMS: How has social media impacted the marketing landscape for brokers and agents?
JG: We know from research that a large portion of brokers and agents use social media as a marketing tool. Social media also has changed how clients approach the evaluation and decision-making process around insurance. Quite simply, if brokers and agents aren’t utilizing social media, they are missing out on a powerful channel for marketing.
IMS: How does the use of social media differ depending on a broker’s line of business?
JG: With personal insurance clients, what’s most important is the relationship they have with their broker and agency. Prospective clients use social media to learn more about a broker or agent and decide if it’s someone they want to do business with. In commercial insurance, decision makers are seeking information and thought leadership on industry topics. In our survey, we found that 61 percent of commercial clients turn to social media, and specifically LinkedIn, to gain insight into an industry topic, and 54 percent check credentials of a prospective broker or agent. For commercial brokers, it’s important to build out a content strategy that is very specific to the audience you are targeting — construction, manufacturing, retail, and so on.
All brokers and agents need to develop a reputation for having expertise and being a trusted resource to turn to. It’s about specializing, delivering relevant content, having a punchy headline and concise summaries, and finding ways to inform and engage your target audience. Regardless of your line of business, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. Use multiple channels — Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all essential channels that have different purposes and strengths.
IMS: How can brokers and agents best utilize LinkedIn for their business?
JG: LinkedIn is all about delivering personalized experiences built around identity, network and knowledge. To help brokers and agents define and promote their identity — what we call the “Brand of You” — we offer a Professional and Personal Branding Playbook. Create a company page in addition to a personal page, so that you are discoverable through a follower base built around your company page.
Second is your network. We help brokers and agents unlock the power of their network with functionality that they don’t have to pay a premium to use. They can leverage their first-degree contacts to access second- and third-degree contacts within industries they target, and really identify who the key stakeholders are in the insurance-buying process. We are also in an era of “social selling,” where the art of appealing to a savvy buyer takes place online long before a deal is closed. With that in mind, we offer LinkedIn Sales Navigator, a stand-alone, premium solution designed for sales professionals that allows them to focus on the right people and companies, stay updated on key accounts and, most important, establish and grow relationships with customers and prospects.
Regardless of your line of business, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. Use multiple channels — Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all essential channels that have different purposes and strengths.
Finally, once brokers and agents understand their audience, identify their niche, and personalize their profile to reflect that, it’s important to reach out to their network with knowledge by personalizing their LinkedIn presence with rich content. Whether it’s a presentation, video, or whitepaper, all of those can be uploaded to a profile. We’re also starting to see more and more agents posting and blogging through our LinkedIn Publishing platform. Long form posting is an increasingly popular canvas to showcase knowledge and points of view on the platform.
IMS: LinkedIn offers some insurance-specific resources as well, correct?
JG: Yes. A LinkedIn Pulse page focuses on the insurance industry, where you are able to learn about and contribute to some really interesting topics within the industry.
IMS: You mentioned the “Brand of You.” What is this and why is it important?
JG: One of the key problems of running an agency is that brokers and agents simply don’t have a marketing plan because they are focused on the day-to-day demands of the business. However, you need a marketing plan that starts with who you are. What are your niches, your specialties? Avoid clichés, but identify why customers should do business with you. We’ve found that to be a key best practice among producers that are experiencing consistent revenue growth.
IMS: Any parting advice for brokers and agents?
JG: Be authentic, consistent, and visible. Build your network, expand your knowledge and share in LinkedIn groups. Find unique and creative ways to describe your skills. Be personable. Be you.
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