I was listening to NPR while driving to work back in 2006 when I heard a report about something new that had the potential to take the (somewhat young) social media world by storm.
This new social media platform gave users the ability to share their thoughts in short messages of up to 140 characters. The name for this platform? Twitter. Cute name, I thought as I drove along, observing a flock of birds perched along a utility wire.
Soon afterward, I had a personal Twitter account and started a Twitter account for my employer. I gained a few followers on my account, and my employer’s account began gathering some steam.
The employer Twitter account was one more communications tool that we used to keep in touch with our audience. Along with our Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, we had the power to get our message out beyond our traditional channels of e-newsletters and print.
But although we had these fun new tools at our disposal, we lacked a strategy to use them to their fullest. What information should we post? How often should we post it? Who do we want to reach?
My social media strategy wavered between two “hopes.” Hope No. 1: We should post only information that is time-sensitive and crucial in the hope that the information will spread out to our audience like ripples in a pond. Hope No. 2: We should post anything and everything that we do in the hope that, like spaghetti thrown against a wall, something would “stick” and catch our audience’s attention.
Neither of these worked.
However, one thing I have observed in about a decade and a half of social media use is that the 80/20 rule applies. Twenty percent of your followers (or “friends” or connections) generate about 80% of what you see on your social media feeds. The real challenge is how to engage the “silent majority” of your followers.
In this issue of InsuranceNewsNet Magazine, we get some insights from advisors who are successfully incorporating social media into their practices and some advice on how to use these channels more effectively. Although everyone has their own set of ideas on this, one idea in particular stands out: Start with a plan.
Social media platforms aren’t just for sharing photos of your family vacation or for enjoying cute photos of your friend’s puppy. Consumers turn to social media when they want to buy. Consider these statistics:
» Almost half of Twitter subscribers say they purchased something after seeing it on the platform.
» 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business, and 58% of Instagram users say they’re more interested in a brand after seeing it in a story.
» Nearly 800 million people in more than 200 countries use LinkedIn. The platform is also home to more than 57 million companies.
» 1.62 billion users on average visit Facebook every day. That’s slightly less than one-quarter of the entire world population.
Social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, are among the ways we at InsuranceNewsNet provide news and information to our ever-growing audience. If you haven’t yet joined our networks, we invite you to follow us on Twitter at @InsNewsNet or join our LinkedIn group or check us out on Facebook. If you want to follow our editorial team on Twitter, please do so at @INNsusan or @INNjohnh.
And if you’re planning a social media strategy for your own business, please learn from my mistakes. Hope is NOT a strategy.