Part of my job for this Association, and all our other clients, is helping people “sell more stuff” and “increase awareness”. That’s always easier said than done, as anyone who’s ever tried to grow a business can attest. You can imagine how hard it is to grow someone else’s business. One avenue to do that is through Facebook and other social media. Your business or agency likely has someone responsible for “creating content”. Maybe that’s a contractor, or a dedicated staff person, or just someone in the front office who dabbles in it. Regardless, if they explain their job is “creating content” you know you’ve already screwed it up.
For one thing, it’s punishing to be “middle of the road”. Think about a typical insurance agency (maybe it’s your own). Someone has surely remarked, “We need to increase the number of followers on our Facebook Page!” And everyone nods and agrees and people start making suggestions about things to share. Pumpkin carving contests, recipes, what Betty in Accounting likes to do on the weekend, photos of people’s dogs, and photos from an occasional “funny hat day” or whatever will likely come up. Then someone takes a photo of Kareem in HR with the caption, “This is Kareem! He works in HR!” Treating colleagues like zoo animals and taking photos of them in what looks more like a hostage situation is not helpful.
The problem is none of these ideas will go far. You know this as much as I do. If you’re just a customer, what about any of that is interesting? It’s the same stuff everyone else suffers through at their own jobs. It’s middle-of-the-road. Someone will post this stuff for a week or two, realize no one’s interested, and they’ll stop. Facebook won’t notice or care about your staff or team wearing funny hats.
The whole process will repeat in about a year when someone again proclaims, “We need to increase the number of followers on our Facebook Page!” The theory being people are on Facebook, we want to sell to people, therefore we ought to be able to sell to everyone on Facebook.
I’ve sat in a lot of these meetings. Your agency or company is likely thinking about it now or very soon as the new year and all its promise rolls around. Two things happen in these meetings:
- People forget how to be human
- People forget that like real life, success is about being authoritative
Agencies and businesses looking to increase their following online need to be authorities in their industry. You build authority by solving problems publicly.
Talk about clients (not by name, of course) and the problems they have and how you solved them. Someone else might have the same problem. When a staffer goes above and beyond to fix an error, talk about it. It’s good for staff morale. When you stay late in the fourth quarter, make sure people know you’re up until 8 pm solving problems for clients. When a new law is proposed or you attend your local Health Underwriters meetup, tell people what you learned or know about it.
Be specific and be detailed. Instead of “we sold a policy”, say precisely what that policy is and what it does and why it was needed. Someone else might need it, too. When you have an issue with a law, cite it and the kind of customer who you helped recently that will be impacted positively or negatively.
Be direct, particularly about things you know to be true. If you think some product is dumb or borderline fraudulent, say so. Maybe someone has it and will talk to you about why they should get out of it. People have opinions, so it stands to reason businesses and colleagues online should have opinions, too.
The entire insurance industry is built on this idea of knowledgable agents working in a confusing industry all on your side like a good friend. Except most customers have a very middle-of-the-road experience with their insurance. “This is what it was last year, it’s just more expensive, but that’s always how it is,” they say. Most of the time nothing goes wrong and that’s it. You don’t endear people with reviews and praise like, “Yeah, he’s fine” and “They’re competent”.
As you or your team gathers in the next few months wondering how to get more people to “Like” you, remember what it takes to get people to like you in real life: solve their problems, show people you have their backs, and have a sense of humor.