Social Media Marketing Guide for the Insurance Professional
by Ted Janusz www.januspresentations.com/social-media.htm
The Importance of Social Media Marketing Getting Started on Facebook: How to promote your agency to one billion possible fans Getting Started on LinkedIn: The professional social network Getting Started on Twitter: Marketing yourself in 140 characters Getting Started Blogging: “The most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself” Getting Started with Local Search: Do you remember when you would “let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages?” Answering Your Unasked Questions about Social Media Marketing
Copyright 2012 @ Ted Janusz, Janus Presentations LLC
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Social Media Marketing Guide for the Insurance Professional
The Importance of Social Media Marketing
Isn’t Social Media Just a Passing Fad? Do you sometimes think, “If I just cover my head with a pillow, all of this talk about social media might soon go away.”? Yes, it does seem like a new social media site is popping up every day, and it is easy to get overwhelmed with it all. Is it just a passing fad? Let’s look at the facts. Do you realize:
• 87% of adults in the U.S. who go online say they have used some form of social media in 2012
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Facebook captures 54% of U.S. Internet users Users spend more than 700 billion minutes (1.3 million years) per month on Facebook 74% of social network users send messages to their friends as part of their daily routines 87% of parents of teenagers are online 96% of Generation Y participates in social media? Why Do We Need to Understand Social Media?
If we intend to sell insurance services to younger clients, we need to understand how they communicate. For instance, when my daughter was home from college, I never once saw her send an e-mail. She certainly never opened up a newspaper or even the Yellow Pages. Instead she was busy with text messages and Facebook. But let’s bust the myth that only Gen X and Gen Y use Social Media. For instance, the fastest growing segment of users of Facebook is now neither high school nor college students, but rather females age 55 – 65. Why? With the rest of their family on Facebook (the average user now spends an hour a day on the site), it’s the best way for them to keep up with the stories and the photos of their children and grandchildren!
According to “Social Media Revolution,” here is the number of years it took each of the following to reach 50 million users: • • • • Radio – 38 years Television – 13 years The Internet – 4 years iPod – 3 years
Facebook, on the other hand, has added 100 million users – in just the last nine months! Here, according to the Facebook Global Monitor, is a listing of the percent of a country's citizens (not just the percent of those citizens who are online) who currently maintain a profile on Facebook: o Iceland - 53% o Norway - 46% o Canada - 42% o Hong Kong - 40.5% o United Kingdom - 40% o United States - 35.5% o Chile - 35% o Israel - 32.5% o Bahamas - 30.5% With over 1/3 of Americans now on Facebook, it is important that we have an understanding of this social media phenomenon that is rapidly spreading across the globe, and to learn how we can use this new form of communication to grow our agency business. How Can You Learn About Social Media . . . Painlessly? You may not want to turn to someone who has multiple pierced body parts, and tattoos on those body parts that are not pierced, to gain that understanding! Instead, join a fellow professional in this Social Media Marketing Guide for Insurance Professionals as he walks you though the steps of getting set up on social media in an easy, fun and interesting way! Shiny New Toys? Once you have mastered the use of these new social media tools, the key to success will be determine to an overall social media strategy: How can you use these tools along with your existing marketing strategy to grow your agency business?
A Paradigm Shift for Marketing Success This will require a new and different mind set, since social media is not about “advertising” but rather about “growing communities.” Rather than the one-way communication of traditional media, social media is about having a conversation with your clients and prospects and developing relationships. You won’t get new business in social media by telling people how wonderful you truly are, but by becoming a trusted member of the community. Rather than spraying ad copy, you will now give your fans, connections and followers valuable content that will have personal value to them and they will want to share with others using these new tools. When I was speaking at the Annual Convention of the Professional Insurance Agents of Tennessee, one agent told me how he uses his Facebook page. He gets his fans involved by asking questions on the site such as “If my tree falls down and hits my neighbor’s house, am I responsible?” The agent then joins in the conversation, showing that he is a trusted member of the community and an insurance expert. This engagement is what leads him to write new policies from the site, instead of using his Facebook page to shout, “Call me today for a free insurance quote!” Finally, social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk reminds us, “Social media is a marathon, not a sprint.” As we discussed earlier, going forward, effective use of social media will need to be an essential part of your marketing plan. How Long Will Social Media Take Me? After All I Have an Insurance Agency to Operate! Once you get your accounts set up on the top three social media sites, you can use an aggregator like Sendible (www.sendible.com) to coordinate all of your social media efforts. As a result, you can keep up-to-date with your online customers in as little as a half hour a day. But, for now, let’s learn the basics of how to effectively use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Author of this Guide
Rather than focus on the technology, Ted Janusz speaks to PIA state affiliates on how to use social media to grow your agency business. He has been a contributor to all three annual editions of the PIA National Agency Marketing Guide.
Because of his business insights, Ted was invited to appear on Geraldo at Large on the Fox News Network. He has conducted over 500 full-day seminars in 49 of the 50 United States (lone exception: Wyoming), and in Puerto Rico and across Canada. Through a nationwide American Idol-like search, Janusz was selected to conduct "eBay University" for eBay at sites across the country. Several hundred people gathered at each of these Saturday events to learn how to start their own businesses on the popular Internet auction site. Janusz earned his MBA in Marketing from the University of Pittsburgh. He presents his Social Media Marketing workshops in Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, New Orleans and other cities across the country. Ted is also the author of ten CD-ROMs taken from his Webinars on social media marketing. To learn more: www.januspresentations.com/social-media.htm
How to Use this Guide
Let’s hear from Ted: “My motto in conducting all of my computer training is always: “No frustration!” My goal in this guide is to take you by the hand and walk you, step-by-step, through the process so that you, too, can join the social media revolution quickly and easily. This guide presents three sections on the three popular social media tools: 1. Getting Started on Facebook 2. Getting Started on LinkedIn 3. Getting Started on Twitter Each section will address four topics about each social media tool: 1. What is it? 2. So what? Why should I care? 3. How do I get started? 4. How have other insurance professionals used these tools for success? We’ll include plenty of screen shots along the way, so that you can see that you are on the right track. Within minutes, you will be able to impress you children (and your grandchildren!) with your newfound knowledge. As a result, you will be able to communicate with them in an exciting new way, as well as to open yourself up to a myriad of new business connections and opportunities.
Plus, we will present two additional topics of interest in this guide regarding how to market your insurance agency on the Internet: 1. Getting Started with Local Search 2. Getting Started with Blogging
So let’s get started!”
Getting Started on Facebook
How to promote your agency to one billion possible fans What is it?
Facebook is a Website that has attracted more nearly one billion active users (that’s almost one out of every seven people on the planet). Users of Facebook create a personal profile, then add other users as friends and exchange messages with them on the site. Facebook users now post a billion pieces of content, such as photos and messages, each day. Additionally, Facebook users may join common interest groups, organized by workplace, school, or college, or other characteristics. “The Facebook” The name “Facebook” stems from the name for the book given to students at the start of the academic year by many university administrations to help students to get to know each other better. On February 4, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched "The facebook", originally located at thefacebook.com. The site was founded by Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow computer science students. The Website's membership was initially limited to his fellow Harvard students (within the first month, more than half of the undergraduate population was registered on the service), but was soon expanded to other colleges and universities in the Boston area. It gradually invited students at other universities before opening the site to high school students, and, finally, to anyone in the world aged 13 and over. Profiles and Pages Users create profiles with photos, lists of interests, contact information, and other personal information. Users can communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages and a chat feature. They can also create and join interest groups and "like pages" (formerly called "fan pages", until April 19, 2010). The website is free to users, and generates revenue from advertising. Facebook Photos
One of the most popular applications on Facebook is the Photos application, where users can upload albums and photos. Facebook is the most popular photo-sharing site on the Internet, with over 100 million photos uploaded to the site each day. Another feature of the Photos application is the ability to "tag", or label users in a photo. For instance, if a photo contains a user's friend, then the user can tag the friend in the photo. The friend then receives a notification to indicate that they have been tagged, and provides them a link to see the photo.
So what? Why should I care?
Facebook provides unique, and free, ways for you to reach its nearly one billion users. People have a "profile" on Facebook, whereas a business has a "page." You and I can have "friends" on Facebook, while a business has "fans." 48% of all small businesses now have a Facebook page. Some businesses which don’t even have Websites have Facebook pages, because they are free and easy to create and edit. Profile Page (more than 3 million businesses)
Represents a person
Represents a business
Has “fans” (or, as of April 2010, “people who like this”)
As an example of the power of individual Facebook users, an 18-year-old male from Oklahoma started the “Flo, the Progressive Girl” Facebook page, which is now even more popular than the official Progressive Facebook page!
Insurance Company Pages on Facebook To view how the following insurance entities are using Facebook to attract new business, and how you can do something similar for your agency, enter www.facebook.com and type in the Search box at the top of the screen the company name: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • McKinnon Insurance Alan Galvez Insurance Baker & Associates Insurance Agency Hill & Hamilton Insurance and Financial Services Westfield Insurance Progressive Flo, the Progressive Girl Securance Service The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research Allstate Insurance State Farm Insurance Nationwide Insurance Aflac Duck GEICO
To create a page for your agency on Facebook (which is free), first register for a Facebook profile.
How do I get started?
Follow these simple and easy steps: • Go to www.facebook.com
• Fill in the text boxes with your o First Name o Last Name (Hint: to make yourself unique, be sure to include your maiden name, nickname or other name that your friends who will be searching for you may have known you by.) o E-mail Address (twice, to make sure it’s typed correctly!) o Password (I used a Password of 6 alphanumeric characters here.) o Sex o Birthday • Click the green Sign Up button
Type the CAPTCHA code in the Text in the box: text box. Click the green Sign Up button
(The term CAPTCHA, for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart, was coined in 2000 by professors of Carnegie Mellon University.) Find Your Friends Of course, the main purpose of Facebook is for “social networking.” So let’s find your friends on Facebook!
You can import contact information from an e-mail service you currently use like Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or AOL. Follow these two steps: • • • Select your e-mail account type on the left side of the screen. Click the Find Friends link. Select the people you want to invite to be your friends. Create Your Profile This step will help you find friends from your high school, college or university, and your employer who are already on Facebook.
As you fill in the text boxes, Facebook will provide suggestions. To accept the suggestion, simply click on it. Be sure to include your graduation years for high school or college or university. Then click the blue Save & Continue button. Based upon your entries, Facebook will then make suggestions for friends to connect with:
At this point, you are probably saying to yourself, “So that’s what they look like now!” To Add people you know, simply click the Add as friend link under the person’s name. When you do, that person will be notified that you would like to add them as a Facebook friend. They can either confirm or deny that request. You will be able to do the same as others look to add you as their friend. One of the best features of Facebook is that you communicate only with your friends. This closed network helps to eliminate spam, which composes up to 90% of regular e-mail messages. When finished, click the blue Save & Continue button.
Choose Your Profile Picture
You friends will want to know that it is really you that they are looking to become Facebook friends with, not somebody else with the same name. To Choose your profile photo: • • Click the Upload a Photo link A new text box will appear:
Click the Browse button From the pop-up window, choose the folder and the file in which that fantastic digital photograph of you is stored!
Click the Open button Your picture will be uploaded to your Facebook profile.
Alternatively, if you have a Webcam, you can click the Take a Photo link to get your profile picture and follow the instructions. Click the blue Save & Continue button.
Welcome to Facebook To help your friends find you when they are looking to add friends on Facebook, provide additional information about yourself. Click the Edit Profile button.
You will see the first of several data entry screens that you can complete to tell your friends, and your potential friends, about yourself:
At this point, one of your concerns might naturally be, “But who can see this information? My boss? A future boss? My ex-boyfriend?” To get a thorough understanding of Facebook’s default (automatic) privacy settings and more importantly how you can change them, click the privacy settings link (just below Contact Information) on the left of the screen:
As you can see, at this point Everyone (which can include anyone surfing the Facebook site) can see (if you have made entries in the following fields in your profile): • Your status, photos and posts • Bio and favorite quotations • Family and relationships Only Friends of Friends can see this information, plus: Photos and videos you’re tagged in Religious and political views Birthday Your Friends can see all of the above information, plus they have: Permission to comment on your posts Information on places you check in to Your contact information
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Should you desire, by clicking on the link, you can Customize (these privacy) settings Continue to build your profile by clicking the Edit Profile button at the upper right of the screen. As you do, at any time you may click the View My Profile button at the upper right of your screen to see your work-in-progress.
Feel free to click on any of the Edit links, the Edit Profile button, or the icons on the screen to provide additional information that you would like to share about yourself. Create a Facebook Page Now that you are personally represented on the most popular networking site, let’s create a presence on Facebook for your business. Go to www.facebook.com/pages
Click the Create Page button in the upper right corner.
• • • •
Your new Facebook page appears, similar to the one below:
Let’s start to build your Facebook page! Step 1 - Add an image. Click the Upload an Image link • • • A new text box will appear. Click the Browse button From the pop-up window, choose the folder and the file in which a digital photograph of you, your building or your logo is stored
Click the Open button Your image will be uploaded to your Facebook page.
You’ll want to be sure that the world (or nearly one billion users) knows that you have a Facebook page, so they can begin to interact with your business in a whole new way. Step 2 – Invite your friends. So that your Facebook friends will see that your Facebook page is a recommended page: • • Click the Suggest to Friends button When the pop-up appears (as shown below), click the All button to the right and then click the Send Recommendations button
Step 3 – Tell your fans. You can let contacts in your e-mail address book know that you have a Facebook page and a new way to interact with your business: • • • Click the Import Contacts button Enter your e-mail address and password Click the Find Contacts button
Building Interesting Content Add to your new Facebook page, so that your fans (“people who like this”) will want to come back for more. You can get started by: o Writing something on your Wall tab o Clicking the Edit Information link on your Info tab o Clicking the Create a Photo Album button on your Photos tab o Clicking the Start a New Topic button on your Discussions tab
Your Agency Facebook Page: What If You Build It and They Don’t Come? “Okay, so I took your advice and created a Facebook page for our agency,” you might say at some point. “But now it’s just sitting there with hardly any fans. What should I do?” First of all, let me congratulate you! With nearly a billion users (that’s one of out every seven people on the planet who has a Facebook account) be assured that you are in the right place to promote your agency. And let me assure you a Facebook page can work for you. When I spoke at the annual convention for the PIA of Tennessee, an agent told me that he was able to write numerous new policies by posting questions on his Facebook page such as, “If my tree falls down and hits my neighbor’s house, am I responsible for the damage?” He involved his fans in the conversation and then showed that he was an expert on the topic of insurance to his community. (Notice he did not use his Facebook page to shout: “Call me today for a free insurance quote!”) In fact, just of few of the many insurance Facebook pages you may want to study and emulate include: • McKinnon Insurance (Notice how this page doesn’t pitch insurance products but instead allows their prospects and clients to get to know them on a personal level. People want to buy insurance from those they know and “like,”) Alan Galvez Insurance Baker & Associates Insurance Agency Hill & Hamilton Insurance and Financial Services Westfield Insurance Progressive Flo, the Progressive Girl (This page was not created by some corporate marketer, but rather by an 18-year-old male fan of Flo’s from Oklahoma. Notice how many millions of likes the page has today!) Securance Service The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research Allstate Insurance State Farm Insurance Nationwide Insurance Aflac Duck GEICO
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Advice from the Experts Here are some of the best tips and tricks I have found on how to grow the fan base for your agency’s Facebook page from six other social media experts. Our first expert, Ching Ya, of Socialmediaexaminer.com, suggests these three ideas: 1. Take the Initiative: Request Help from Friends It’s difficult to start a Facebook page with no engagement whatsoever. Why not send messages to your friends and clients who are supportive of your agency? Ask them to help out in some discussions, reward them with publicity, or return the favor. Ask them to use Facebook’s Suggest feature to “suggest” that their friends like your page. When the request comes from these community thought leaders, it’s a lot harder for others to decline to hit that “like” button. 2. Use Tagging One of the most popular features on Facebook is tagging, which gives you the ability to identify and reference people in photos, videos and notes. Friends you tag in your status updates will receive a notification and a Wall post linking them to your post. 3. Participate Outside Your Page Use Facebook Directory and Facebook Search to locate other Facebook pages in your insurance niche. Look for public discussions based on search terms related to your business.
Our second expert, Laura Rubinstein, of the Social Media Marketing Strategist, suggests two ideas: 1. Hold a Contest – Jupiter Research reported in 2001 that 49 percent of consumers enter an online sweepstakes at least once a month. Sponsoring a contest will do two things for you: first, you will easily be able to determine which of your fans want to interact with you, and, secondly, once they do, they will be more open to future marketing messages from you. Progressive and State Farm are just two of the insurance companies which have recently sponsored contests on Facebook. To get ideas on how other companies have incorporated contests and social media, please see this article by David Spark entitled “10 Creative Contests Powered by Social Media,” http://mashable.com/2009/08/11/social-media-contests/:
2. Promote a Charity. This benefits you, your fans, and the charity. It’s a triple win! Let everyone know that for every x number of fans who join, you are going to donate x dollars to a certain charity.
Rob Dickens of Memeburn: 1. Suggest to Friends Just below your Facebook page picture you’ll find a link that says “Suggest to Friends”. This allows you to invite all of your friends on Facebook. 2. Promote Your Facebook Page If you send out a newsletter, be sure you include a link to your Facebook page. Have a Facebook badge on your Website.
3. E-mail Signatures Just imagine how much exposure your page will get if the link to your agency’s Facebook page is included in every single e-mail sent from your agency!
Ruth White-Cabell, Strategic Campaigns Manager at Cisco: 1. Create Exclusive Content – Ask yourself what valuable, relevant content you can provide to your fans on Facebook that they can’t get anywhere else. By offering exclusive content on Facebook, you immediately give users a reason to join. It also provides a powerful motivator to share your page with their own networks. 2. Ask Questions and Take Polls and Surveys – You want people to interact with you on Facebook. To drive engagement, be genuinely curious and ask questions. (Remember the success of the PIA of Tennessee convention attendee?) To get even broader feedback, use regular polls and surveys within your Facebook page. Two helpful tools: www.polldaddy.com and www.surveymonkey.com. 3. Respond to Comments – Encourage interaction by being interactive. Make sure you are responding to comments from your fans. 4. Share Content from Others – It’s not just about you and your agency. It’s important to share content – videos, photos, blog posts, articles and links from others as well. 5. Finally, Don’t be Afraid to Experiment – There is no cookie-cutter approach to success with social media. Being actively engaged is a key part of success on Facebook.
Mari Smith, co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day: Invite Your E–mail and Ezine Subscribers – Send out an invitation to your subscribers via e-mail (several times, over time) letting them know about your Facebook page and encouraging them to join. Provide them with a description of the page and, rather than just asking them to “like our page,” tell them exactly what’s in it for them when they do.
To get helpful tips directly from Facebook, go to www.facebook.com/business.
Finally, our sixth expert, Cindy Ratzlaff of the International Social Media Association, asks:
Did you know that video postings on Facebook are chosen more often to appear in the "Top News" stream of your fans and therefore have a better chance of being seen by their friends? Post short video messages with insurance tips that your fans can share with their friends. Keep these messages under one minute and include only solid advice or tips that your fans will be thrilled to share with their friends. People love videos! In fact, YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world behind Google. And if you want your video to be noticed, make sure that you don’t have someone from the agency in a headshot going blah-blah-blah in insurance speak. If you want to have your video stand out, make it witty, off-beat, or intensely personal. . Four Keys to Facebook Success Let’s conclude with these four key steps to build, grow and manage your Facebook page: 1. Develop a Strategy – Why do most of the more than 3 million Facebook pages fail? Because creating one was a reactive, rather than a proactive, event. Many businesses create Facebook pages simply because it seems like everyone else is. (48% of all small businesses now have a Facebook page.) What do you want to accomplish with your page? As an example of an effective strategy for a Facebook page, the Buffalo, New York CPA firm of Freed, Maxick & Battaglia determined that it wanted to “humanize employees, showcase community involvement, and position the company as a thought leader” with their Facebook page. Once you develop a strategy for your agency, it will make your efforts on your Facebook page a whole lot easier. 2. Based upon what you want to achieve with your Facebook page, create great content. Your Facebook page is not the place to recycle your self-serving commercials and press releases. Develop fabulous exclusive content (especially captivating videos and photos) that will make it easy for your fans to “like” your page, and to keep them coming back for more. The main reason people unsubscribe from blogs is because the blog holder doesn’t update the blog often enough with quality, consistent posts. Make sure that the content on your Facebook page is always fresh. 3. Promote Your Page. With a Facebook page, it is more than “build it and they will come.” Include your Facebook page URL on all of your marketing materials. 4. Track Your Successes by Using Facebook Insights. Want to see what’s working and not working on your Facebook page? This free analytics tool available at www.facebook.com/insights will give you information that will show you, so you can refine your efforts along the way. The effective use of social media in general and Facebook in particular requires us to shift our thinking. Using traditional marketing including your Website, you would simply “shout out” to your customers and your prospects about your agency. Now with Facebook you have the ability to actually engage with your fans, to have two-way communication with them. You can now find out how they really feel about your services, allowing you to deliver what they truly need. And once you do, you will be surprised how your fans will
actually help you spread the word about your agency and your services to their friends. In the end, you’ll be able to deliver better results for your agency, your clients and yourself. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Getting Started on LinkedIn
The professional social network What is it?
Unlike the other two other major social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter which we are discussing in this guide, LinkedIn is the networking site for business. No fun and games here. No “poking” your friends or posting photographs like on Facebook, or telling your followers what you are eating for dinner like you might on Twitter, LinkedIn is like the three-piece suit or the corporate boardroom. It is the social networking site that is serious . . . about commerce. It’s All About Connections The main purpose of LinkedIn is to allow its more than 150 million users, who include executives from all Fortune 500 businesses as well as businesses in 200 countries from around the world, to maintain a list of contact details about people they know and trust in business. The people on the list are known as connections (similar to Facebook’s friends). Users can invite anyone (whether a LinkedIn user or not) to become a connection. This list of connections can then be used in a number of ways:
• o o o •
A contact network can be built consisting of direct connections the connections of each of their connections (called second-degree connections) and the connections of each of their connections (called third-degree connections). This network can be used to gain an introduction to someone a person wishes to know through a mutual, trusted contact. LinkedIn can then be used to find people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one's contact network.
In addition, you can join one or more business related interest groups and network directly with the members of those groups. As mentioned above, influential members can be drawn to the groups from various locations internationally.
How Popular is LinkedIn? According to Wikipedia, two new members sign up on LinkedIn approximately every second. About half of the members are in the United States and 11 million are from Europe. With 3 million users, India has the fastest-growing network of users as of 2009.
So what? Why should I care?
Let’s say you built your contact list to 342 connections. LinkedIn tells you that have over 5,109,300 users whom you then could reach through a friend and one of their friends. That’s the power of LinkedIn! Compared to the other two major social networking sites, LinkedIn’s users are: • Older (median age: 41) • Wealthier (six-figure household income) • Predominantly male (2/3 male, 1/3 female) • College educated (4/5 have a college degree) • 28% of users are 35 to 44 years of age • 28% of users are 45 to 54 years of age Wouldn’t you like access to that group of potential insurance clients? Best of all, your use of LinkedIn can be free.
How do I get started?
Go to www.linkedin.com
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Type your First Name Last Name E-mail Address Password you would like to use for LinkedIn – at least 6 characters long Click the green Join LinkedIn button
As the next screen indicates, Let’s get your professional profile started • From I am currently:, click the arrow in the dropdown menu to indicate that you are either employed, a business owner, looking for work, working independently, or a student Choose your Country from the drop-down menu Type your ZIP Code. LinkedIn will not display your ZIP code, but will use it to assign a Region to your profile, so others will know the general area where you reside Type your Company. As you type, LinkedIn may help you by recognizing your company name. Type your Job Title Click the blue Create my profile button.
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Your LinkedIn Profile What is a LinkedIn Profile? Think of your profile as your personal home page to the business world. Your profile is like a real-time, up-to-date resume that gives a complete picture of your background, qualifications and skills. At any time, you can go to www.linkedin.com and click the Profile link in the top-left corner to access your LinkedIn profile to view or edit your profile. Creating Your LinkedIn Profile Click on Profile and then Edit Profile from the resulting drop-down menu, and you will see a screen that looks similar to the following:
Clicking Edit just to the right of your name will get the following screen:
On this screen, you can fill in the blanks to add a Former or Maiden Name. Some potential connections may know by and look for you using a previous name. You can also change your Professional “Headline.” Think of this as your job title. Enter a headline that will grab people’s attention. After you have entered or changed your Basic Information, click the blue Save Changes button. LinkedIn will then take you back to your main Profile screen with the note The information has been successfully updated at the top of the screen, as shown below:
Photo LinkedIn was the last of the major social networking sites that allowed you to add a photo. Even now, you can only add one. Next, we will add your Profile Photo. Why add a photo? Chances are, with over 90 million registered users, there are multiple people in the LinkedIn database with a name the same as or similar to yours. By viewing your photo, a potential connection can be assured that you are indeed the nice person who worked with him or her at XYZ Corporation back in 2006. To add a photo, click on the Add Photo link under the image that currently appears as a silhouette. A screen similar to the one below will appear:
Click the Browse button, and a File Upload pop-up screen will appear:
Determine the folder in which you may be storing that professional photograph of you that makes you look just marvelous. (My guess is that it is in your My Pictures folder, so double click on My Pictures or other subsequent folders until you find where you store the images from your digital camera.) Once you have located the photo you would like to use as your Profile photograph, click once on the image and then click the Open button, as shown below.
LinkedIn will return you to the Upload a Photo screen with the file name that describes the photograph you just inserted.
Click the blue Upload Photo button, and . . . Voila! . . . LinkedIn will update your Profile and tell you on the subsequent screen that Your picture has been saved.
You can select who can view your new profile photo: • Your Connections – these are the people who are connected to you through the LinkedIn site. • Your Network – these are the people you are linked to through your connections. • Everyone – anyone who logs on to the LinkedIn site and searches for your name. Once you decide who can see your photo, click the blue Save Settings button.
You now have a photo associated with your LinkedIn profile. You are really making progress now! Post an update Should you like to let your connections in on what is happening in your professional life, you can Post an update. In the box that currently says “Share an update,” type your good news.
Once you have posted an update about, for instance, winning an honor, you can enter in the box below a link to the article on the Web that announced the award by typing the article’s URL:
Click the blue Attach button, then decide whether to make this announcement visible to anyone who may search your profile or just your connections. By clicking in the box to the left of the “blue t” Twitter logo, you can also send a Twitter message known as a tweet to all of your followers on Twitter after you click the blue Share button. (See the next section of this guide on “Getting Started on Twitter.”) On LinkedIn, the people I am connected to are called connections, on Twitter those people are called followers. Current Position As a next step, you can edit your Current position. I have entered my position here as a “Registered Agent at American Federated Insurance” by clicking the Edit link to the right of my entry. Doing so will bring up a new screen. You can now change or add the following information in the boxes on the screen:
Under More information about this company, in the blue box, you can type the URL for your current company Website. To the right of Time Period, you can click the check box to indicate that you currently work at this company, and then indicate the month and year that you started in the position. (If you click the I currently work here check box, the second entry for month and year will automatically change to “to present.”) For the Position Description, provide details of the position, so users viewing your profile can get a quick idea of what your position involves. If you click the See examples link under the Description box, you can view examples of Position Descriptions from other industries. To save your entries, click the blue Update button. Past Positions
Now that we have completed entering information about your current position, enter information about your Past positions by clicking the Add a past position link.
You will see an entry screen that is very similar to the Current position entry screen we just completed:
After you enter information in the appropriate boxes on the screen, click the blue Save Changes button. You may wish to enter additional Past Positions to show the breadth of your experience. For each additional Past Position you would like to enter, simply click the Add a past position link. Education To indicate your educational qualifications, click the Add a school link. Enter information for the fields on the following screen, and then click the blue Save Changes button:
You may desire to indicate to your connections and others that you have multiple educational experiences, such an undergraduate and then a graduate degree. So you may want to make multiple entries for Education. Simply click the Add a school link for as many entries as you would like to make and follow the same steps as above. Recommendations According to marketing guru Dan Kennedy, in talking with his clients, the number one marketing mistake his clients make is failing to collect and use testimonials. What matters is not that we say we are great. (Prospects expect us to say wonderful things about ourselves!) What matters to potential clients is who else says so. Especially if it is someone they know or whose opinion they trust, it will be worth far more than our own marketing puffery.
In the brick-and-mortar world, it is sometimes cumbersome to get testimonials. You may need to ask your client write their gracious comments on company letterhead using their precious time. As a result, it may be something that, despite their assurances to you or their best intentions, they may not quite get around to doing. But getting a testimonial on LinkedIn can be as easy as requesting a client to compose an e-mail! To request a Recommendation in LinkedIn, begin by clicking Profile, and then the Recommendations link. Once you do, LinkedIn will present you a screen that looks like this:
Across the top of the screen, you will see three tabs, one each for: • Received Recommendations • Sent Recommendations • Request Recommendations If you have a Current or Past position on your LinkedIn profile for which you have not yet been recommended, you can click on the link Ask to be endorsed. You will then see the following screen:
After you have chosen 1) what you want to be recommended for, you can 2) decide who you’ll ask. LinkedIn makes this step easy for you. Click the blue LinkedIn logo to the right of the Your connections: box, and your current list of connections will become visible, as shown below.
You can select up to 200 connections from whom you can ask for a recommendation. To increase your chances of success, narrow the list to only those connections that would have known of the quality of your work while you held that particular position. When done, click the yellow Finished button. LinkedIn will return you to the previous screen:
You may notice that LinkedIn sends each recipient (of up to 200 connections) you have chosen an individual e-mail. Your e-mail requests will not be sent as a group e-mail. To complete the Recommendation request process, click the blue Send button. The Golden Rule How can you get Recommendations? One of the best ways to get Recommendations is to write Recommendations for others. The next tab will show you for which of your LinkedIn connections you have Sent Recommendations:
The third tab, Request Recommendations, allows you to ask for Recommendations from your connections, using the process described above. Connections A connection is someone with whom you have an association through the LinkedIn. One of the benefits of LinkedIn is that, once you have established a connection with someone, you will always have a live link to that person. It doesn’t matter if that person changes their e-mail address (which many often do), since you will always be connected to them through LinkedIn. There are three different degrees of how you are connected with people on LinkedIn: 1. First-degree connections are people that you know personally. They have a direct relationship from their account to your account.
2. Second-degree network members know someone among your first-degree network connections. These are friends of your friends. 3. Third-degree network members know someone among your second-degree network connections. They are friends of your friends of your friends. Your LinkedIn connections can help you advance your career and professional goals, and you can help them as well. Let’s get started to establish your network of connections! Establishing Connections In the upper right corner of your Profile screen, click the Add Connections link
LinkedIn gives you two options to add to your number of connections
On the left side of the screen you can See Who You Already Know on LinkedIn by allowing LinkedIn to search contacts from your e-mail address book. If you use Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo or AOL as your e-mail service, simply type your complete e-mail ID and password and click the blue Continue button. LinkedIn will then show you your e-mail contacts that are not yet connected to you on LinkedIn and ask you if you want to connect with them. Word of Warning A temptation for you may be to simply click the box to the right of Select All. Don’t do it! (I don’t even know why LinkedIn offers this option!) In my case, that would result in 2,877 contacts being invited to join my network in LinkedIn. As you can imagine, I certainly don’t have a personal relationship with all or even most of them. You probably have a similar situation with your e-mail contacts.
“LinkedIn makes it very easy for you to send invitations in bulk – to your entire contact list if you want. However, even though it’s easy to do, it’s not necessarily a good idea,” warns Joel Elad in LinkedIn for Dummies. “It can have negative social implications and can even potentially get you suspended from LinkedIn (and you wouldn’t want that!).” Recipients of your LinkedIn invitation will see an I Don’t Know This Person button. If several people you have invited click this button, LinkedIn will consider you a spammer and will suspend and possibly even remove your profile and account from the site. Ouch! Rather than try to get the maximum number of LinkedIn connections (or, for that matter Facebook friends or Twitter followers), a better course of action is to determine why you would want to expand your social network. You may want to add: Colleagues from a former or past employer Classmates People You May Know Let’s explore how to do that. Adding Colleagues from a Former or Past Employer Click the Colleagues tab, which is just to the right of the Add Connections tab:
• • •
You will be able to Find past or present colleagues by clicking on the View all buttons. (Note: You really won’t be able to “view all,” since the results you will see will be limited to 50 of your colleagues.)
Check the boxes under the green arrow for the people whom you know who you would like to invite to be connections. Their names will then appear in the box to the right, with the heading Send invitations to connect to:. To increase the chances that these people will reply positively, include a personal note with your invitation to indicate why you are asking these colleagues to join your network. A quick key to success: specify what their connection to you could do for them. Check the box to the left of Add a personal note with your invitation? and then type the note in the box below. Finally, click the blue Send Invitations button. Joel Elad in LinkedIn for Dummies gives us this advice: “When people get an Invitation request, they understand pretty clearly that you want something from them, whether it’s access to them or their network. If you’ve sent a canned Invitation, what they can’t answer is the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’ A canned Invitation gives no motivation for or potential benefit of being connected to you. A
custom note explaining that you’d love to swap resources or introduce them to others is usually enough to encourage an acceptance.” Adding Classmates In addition to colleagues at present or past companies, you could probably receive benefit by linking yourself to present or past classmates. And they could benefit by associating with you! To get started, click the Classmates link, which is just to the right of the Colleagues link:
When I clicked the name of my school in the box under Select a school from your profile: I was surprised to find the names of 77 of my classmates, as shown in the screen below. (That number is about half the number of students we had in the entire graduate school that year!)
I can then select which of my classmates I would like to invite to my network by clicking the Invite icon (which resembles an envelope) under the Send Invitation column heading. Adding People You May Know LinkedIn suggests people for you to consider adding to your connections. These may be people who: • are 2nd degree connections • may have one or more shared connections with you. Click the People You May Know tab, which is to the right of the Classmates link. Once the names and possibly the profile picture of these people are shown, click the Connect link for any who you would like to add to your network.
Returning to Your Profile Now that we have added to your network, let’s return to build your Profile, so that current and potential connections would know how they could help you and you could help them. Click on the Profile link. Websites Next, let’s click on the Add a website link.
On the next screen, LinkedIn asks for Additional Information, such as: • the URL for a Personal or Company Website and Blog • Interests • Groups and Associations • Honors and Awards. After entering this information, click the blue Save Changes button.
Twitter Do you have a Twitter account? Do you tweet? If you don’t currently, don’t worry. We’ll show you how to set up a Twitter account in the last section of this guide. If you do, and would like to link your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, you can click the Add a Twitter account link.
LinkedIn will then give you the ability to customize your Twitter settings within LinkedIn:
Public Profile The next option in your Profile allows you to set how visitors to LinkedIn (maybe professionals who would be looking to do business with you) can view your information. Within your Profile, click on Public Profile You will notice that automatically anyone who views your Profile will see basic information: • • • • Name Industry Location Your number of recommendations
But other information about you that they can view is up to you.
Simply check the box to the right of the item to be viewed or not viewed. Then click the blue Save Changes button. Add sections You now can Add sections to reflect achievements and experiences on your profile. Click the Add sections link, as shown below:
LinkedIn gives you the option to add: • Certifications • Languages • Patents • Skills To add this information, simply click on the particular link in the pop-up window, as shown below:
• • •
These sections can include: Certifications – such as CIC, CISR, CPIA, CPCU and CRM Languages – and whether you have native or bilingual proficiency, professional working proficiency, or elementary proficiency Applications – such a link to your blog Experience
The next section of your LinkedIn Profile displays your competence through your Experience. To demonstrate more of your industry knowledge to clients and prospective clients, click the Add a position link.
As you did when you created the record for your Current position earlier, type information for: • Company Name • Title • Time Period • Description Click the blue Save Changes button.
Publications Have you written an article, research paper or book? Click the Add a Publication link and enter descriptive information about your work.
Education Have you gone back to school to earn your degree or an advanced degree? I tell my audiences, “We tend to like and trust people who are like ourselves, and dislike and distrust people who are unlike us.” What if a potential client is looking at LinkedIn profiles and notices that you attended State U.? And that is the same State U. she attended? The chances of you doing business with her had just shot up significantly. But if you did not add this information to your profile, the potential client may never know. Here is how to capture that additional information in LinkedIn:
Click the Add a School link and enter information into the following fields:
Click the blue Save Changes button and you’re done! Recommendations LinkedIn says that users with recommendations are three times as likely to get inquiries through LinkedIn searches. In the Recommendations section of your Profile, click the Ask for a recommendation link.
Then determine for which positions or college experiences you would like to have a recommendation for your work.
1) For the Position for which you would like to be Recommended, simply click the Ask to be endorsed link. (“Endorsed” is an old LinkedIn term. It would be better if the word “recommended” were used consistently. But you get the idea!)
2) To decide who you’ll ask, click the LinkedIn icon, which you will find to the right of the Your connections: box. You can select up to 200 of your connections (if you have that many!). Each will get an individual e-mail (not a group e-mail) with your request. (Believe it or not, some LinkedIn users have over 500 connections! LinkedIn stops counting and displaying the number at that point. These particular users are called LIONs, for LinkedIn Open Networkers. Your goal should not be to collect as many connections as possible. As we mentioned earlier, think why you want to use LinkedIn. Then go after as many quality connections as you can.)
3) You may send the pre-filled Subject line and email body of the text shown, or you can enter your own.
4) When done, click the blue Send button. The Golden Rule of Recommendations One of the best ways to get a recommendation on LinkedIn is to give a recommendation. And LinkedIn makes it easy for you. No special letterhead required! Simply scroll down under the Received Recommendations tab. Under Make a Recommendation
Enter the person’s First Name, Last Name and e-mail address, or even easier, click the select from your connections list link. From the resulting pop-up window, click on the name of the connection.
The name and e-mail address will then populate the fields on the screen.
Next, click the button to indicate that this person is either a: • Colleague – someone you worked with at the same company • Service Provider – someone from another company that you or someone else at your company hired • Business Partner – someone you worked with more closely than as a colleague or client • Student – you went to school with them. They were either a fellow student or you were their teacher. Click the blue Continue button. On the next screen you will create the recommendation.
Under Relationship For Basis of recommendation, click the down arrow to the right to indicate either • You managed this person directly • You reported to this person • You were senior to this person, but not their manager • The person was senior to you, but you did not report to them • The two of you worked in the same group at the company • The two of you worked in different groups at the company For Your title at the time, you will be presented with a drop-down menu with the Positions you had entered earlier into LinkedIn.
For the person’s title at the time, you will be presented with a drop-down menu with the Positions the person had entered into LinkedIn listed as the choices. Under Written Recommendations, you may ask yourself, “What should I write?” • Enter your professional accolades for this person. Keep in mind that someone reading this recommendation is likely to be thinking, “What can this person do for me?” The reader will be viewing your connection through your eyes, but with their own needs in mind. Given this realization, any quantitative, results-oriented information (such as “When we implemented the ideas Mary had suggested, our department realized over $1 million in savings.”) will be most valuable to the connection for whom you are writing the recommendation.
When you are satisfied with what you have written, click the blue Send button. The connection for whom you have written the recommendation will be notified through LinkedIn. You can use the standard notification message or create one of your own prior to the recommendation being sent. You can edit or remove your recommendation at any time. Additional Information
By clicking the Edit link to the right of Additional Information, you can allow your connections and other LinkedIn visitors to get to know you even better! Enter your Associations in this area. In the next section we will discuss how joining LinkedIn Groups can help you gain additional exposure for your career. Some final information you can add to your profile (by clicking the Add link to the right of each descriptor) includes:
• • • •
Honors and Awards Personal Information – should you desire to share it Contact Settings – indicate to LinkedIn users what types of contact you’re interested in Applications – tools provided by LinkedIn’s featured partners
. . . and you have successfully completed your LinkedIn profile!
LinkedIn Groups Why join a group?
A LinkedIn group gives you a special association to fellow group members. As a result, you can see their full Profiles and they can appear in your search results, if even they aren’t within the three degrees of separation of everyone in the group. What are the different types of LinkedIn groups? By joining several groups, especially large ones, you can increase your visibility within the LinkedIn network without having to add thousands of contacts. One of the key groups you should consider joining is PIA-National Association of Professional Insurance Agents. This group describes itself as “PIA is a national trade association that strives to create unlimited opportunities for professional, independent insurance agents. Our mission is ‘To promote, protect and defend the integrity of our members, the value of their profession and the success of their businesses.’” Alexi Papandon, AVP, Communications at National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA,) is the owner of the group, which currently has nearly 800 members. To join the PIA-National Association of Professional Insurance Agents LinkedIn Group • • • From the top line of the LinkedIn home page, click on Groups From the resulting drop-down menu, click Groups Directory In the box under Search Groups, type the keyword PIA (as shown below)
To the right of the PIA-National Association of Professional Insurance Agents listing, click the Join Group button
On the next screen (shown below), you can specify options on how you would like to be affiliated with the group:
After you have completed making your choices, click the blue Join Group button. On the next screen, you will get notified that your request to join the group is being sent to the group owner for manual approval:
Searching a Group After you have joined a group, you may be interested in finding out who else is in the group. The idea of joining groups is to be able to connect with like-minded individuals. • • • • • From the top line of the LinkedIn home page, click on Groups From the resulting drop-down menu, click My Groups Under the name of the group, such as PIANational Association of Professional Insurance Agents, click Go to From the resulting drop-down menu, click Members LinkedIn will display a screen similar to the following:
On the left side of the screen, search among the members of the group by entering their names or keywords to find specific members of this group. For instance, I could look for all members of the group who have “CEO” in their titles by typing CEO above the blue Search button, as I have on the following screen.
As you can see, that search returned 40 members from this group. One of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn groups is that I can now send a message through LinkedIn directly to anyone who is a member of the group. They may be a first-, second- or third-degree connection, but they do not need to be. I am associated to them simply by being a member of this group. We Are the World Through groups, you have the ability to network with members who not only reside in your state or country, but also with those who live in other parts of the world! For instance, a fellow group member of mine resides in the Czech Republic, as seen by his profile below:
He is not currently a connection of mine. But since we are connected though this group, I am able to send him a direct message. (I can also request that he become a connection of mine.) Isn’t it amazing all of the things you can do within your LinkedIn account? Discussions Here’s another . . . You can start a discussion with other members of your group. Why not tap into the minds of the professionals who know your industry the best? To start a discussion • • • From the top line of the LinkedIn home page, click Groups From the resulting drop-down menu, click My Groups Under the name of the group, such as PIA-National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, click Actions
From the resulting drop-down menu, click Start a Discussion, as shown below
LinkedIn Answers With LinkedIn Answers, you can post a question about a certain business-related topic. Other LinkedIn members can browse the questions and write their responses. “Asking people you know for business advice is the most common use of your professional network,” said Keith Rabois, vice president of business and corporate development at LinkedIn. “LinkedIn Answers allows users to gain insight and knowledge from people you trust and tap into a powerful network of thousands of experts in almost every field.” The service is free and currently allows users to ask ten questions a month. LinkedIn states: “Experts receive expertise credentials for every best answer they provide – this becomes part of their LinkedIn profile, informing other users that they are a proven expert on that topic. . . LinkedIn will promote their expertise to other users, providing an opportunity for consultants,
contractors and other service provider to build social capital and market their services to professionals whose questions they answer.” If you are the one to respond using LinkedIn Answers, members can see examples of your knowledge and experience by reading the answers. They will also get an idea of how helpful or enthusiastic you are in a professional environment. Here’s how to get started with LinkedIn Answers: • • From the top line of the LinkedIn home page, click More From the resulting drop-down menu, click Answers
From the next screen you will be able to Ask a Question or Answer Questions.
To ask a question of your network, type your question in the box below Ask a Question, then click the blue Send button. If you are willing to help establish yourself as a LinkedIn-designated Expert, click the Answer Questions link to get started. You will find the link just below and to the right of the More link.
Once you click the link, you will be able to browse the Open Questions, as shown below:
If you are able and would like to answer a question, hover your cursor over the question as it appears just to the right of “Q:”. The question will turn into a hyperlink. Click on the link and you will get a screen like this:
You can then click on the yellow Answer button. Or, if you would like to honor a colleague, a client or potential client, click the Suggest Expert button, as shown below.
Clicking the Select Expert button a second time will allow you to choose a connection from your network to answer the question. In the entry box below the button, you can optionally type a message to the person who has asked the question to indicate why the person you are recommending is an Expert in this area. LinkedIn Experts If you would like to see who have already established themselves as Experts on LinkedIn, click on the Experts link, which is below and to the right of Browse Open Questions. When you do so, you will see something like this:
It may surprise you that these Experts, judging by the number of Answers given this week, are using LinkedIn as a vital part of their marketing strategy! They are attempting to win business from new clients by becoming a trusted member of the community. This is a key concept in the new realm of social media marketing. You may ask, “How can I become a LinkedIn Expert?”
LinkedIn says, “Earning expertise is as easy as 1-2-3:
1. Find questions in the areas you know Browse questions to find categories familiar to you 2. Answer those questions Remember, private answers won’t help you earn expertise 3. Every time the questioner picks your answer best, you gain a point of expertise The more points of expertise, the higher you appear on lists of experts.” When you see a green star on a LinkedIn member’s profile, you know that person has proven their expertise by answering LinkedIn Questions.
Six Quick Ways to Maximize Your Participation on LinkedIn A question I often get asked in my conference presentations is, “I’ve signed up on LinkedIn. What’s next?” Though LinkedIn does not come with a user’s manual, you don’t need to be a computer whiz to derive immediate benefits from the site. Here are six quick ways to maximize your participation on LinkedIn: In the screen shot below of the LinkedIn application, on the left of the screen you will see the Groups link. Across the top of the screen, you will find the People, Jobs, Answers and Companies links. 1) Groups – To network with as many people as you can, join as many relevant groups as you can. For instance, I have joined alumni groups for the three colleges I attended, for the current and former companies for which I have worked, and for my business interests (such as “keynote speakers”). I have also created groups and have asked others to join. Groups you may be interested in joining include the PIA-National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (1,423 current members), Finance Club (253,554 members), Global Insurance Professionals (39,038 members), and Global Insurance Network (29,309 members). You may never know when these people could help you, or more importantly, when you may be able to help them. To get started, simply click the “Groups” link on the left of the screen.
2) People – By clicking on the “People” link at the top of the screen, you can search for LinkedIn members by criteria such as: o Name o Company o Location o School attended o Title At one point in my career, I was interested in becoming a brand manager. Had LinkedIn been in existence then, I could have done a keyword search on the title of “brand manager.” I could then look to see who was a direct or even a 2nd degree contact. (A 2nd degree contact is a direct contact of one of my connections on LinkedIn.) On a 2nd degree contact’s profile, I could click the “Get introduced through a connection” link. This will send an e-mail both to my connection and the 2nd degree contact.
On average, you will get a positive response from one or both of the contacts about 70% of the time. That percentage is a lot higher than if you tried to reach the 2nd degree contact on your own. Let’s say you have 141 connections. LinkedIn tells you then that you have more than 20,400 contacts that are just two degrees away. In addition, you would have over 1,802,400 3rd degree contacts. (A 3rd degree contact is a connection of one of my 2nd degree contacts.) In other words, the total number of LinkedIn users you could contact through an introduction is over 1,823,000. That’s the power of LinkedIn! To begin to build your connections, simply click the green “Add Connections” button on the left of your screen. 3) Jobs – Once I received some insights about being a brand manager and decided that it was a position worth pursuing, I could then click on the “Jobs” link at the top of the screen and, using the keywords “brand manager,” search for jobs in that field among the 5 million jobs currently posted on LinkedIn without going to a different Web site. If you are an employer, you can also post a job. LinkedIn claims, “LinkedIn Jobs receive on average 35+ applicants.” 4) Questions – In the “Questions” section, after “Browsing” under your area of expertise, you might be able to help a fellow member. For example, a current entry in the Questions section states: “Anyone know of any good markets for minimum premium work comp for IL condo associations vs. going through the pool?”
Perhaps you are the one who could assist this LinkedIn member by clicking the “Answer” button. Even better, you might be able to click the “Suggest an Expert” button and recommend someone who you are actually seeking as a client. If you are stuck, you can ask your own Question on LinkedIn. Many professionals find that spending time on LinkedIn answering such Questions for those who actually have a need can be a more efficient way to look for new business than to spend money advertising or time cold-calling others who may have no interest. 5) Companies – Let’s say you have been trying to get into Procter & Gamble. With a multinational corporation like that where do you even start? Click on the “Companies” link at the top of the screen. When I did that, under the company profile, I noticed that a 2nd degree contact was listed, along with the name of my direct contact who knows her. Using the method described above, I could then request an introduction through my direct contact. Also are listed 22,100 current P&G employees who I am related to through one or more of my Groups. (Now you see the benefit of taking action under Step 1, Groups, above.) Below them are my connections and 2nd degree contacts who once worked at P&G. Should I get a job offer there as a brand manager, before I accepted the position, I could ask former employees for a truthful inside scoop, “What was it like to work there? Why did you leave?” 6) Service Providers (in the drop-down menu under Companies) – In this case, let’s say you are an Insurance Agent and you would like the 53 million members of LinkedIn to know about you and also how great you are. It’s easy. Simply click the “Request a Recommendation” link and, using the pre-filled form, ask one of your contacts to write a testimonial for you. This again is easy, because your contact simply needs to respond to the e-mail, no fancy stationery is necessary. Have him or her write the testimonial so that potential clients can easily see what could be in it for them to request your services. If you are not an Insurance Agent choose your particular specialty from the Categories list on the right side of the screen. 99% Information and 1% Promotion “The key to social networking tools is to have lots of connections,” says Guy Kawasaki, the original Macintosh evangelist. “It’s a numbers game. The more people who are connected to you, the more opportunities you have. But people don’t connect with you because you are promoting yourself to them. People connect with you because you are informing them.”
Kawasaki concludes by saying, “You need to be informing people 99% of the time and then 1% of the time you can promote your company.”
Getting Started on Twitter
Marketing yourself in 140 characters What is it?
According to the Los Angeles Times, a recent LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll found that “the majority of common folk surveyed still have little idea what Twitter is.” Of the 2,025 U.S. adults surveyed, 69% said they didn’t know enough about Twitter to comment on the service. Let’s begin to change that . . . Twitter is a Website that allows its users to send and read messages called tweets. Tweets are messages of up to 140 characters each. So Twitter is known as a “microblogging” site. But Why Not Just Send a Text Message? A typical text message is usually only sent to one or several people at a time. A tweet may be sent to or viewed by hundreds or even thousands of people at once.
The Language of Twitter Like much of social media, Twitter has a language all of its own. Let’s start to define some of these terms. Tweets Users may subscribe to other users’ messages or tweets—this is known as following and subscribers are known as followers. When you choose to follow another Twitter user, that user's tweets appear in reverse chronological order on your main Twitter page. Unlike with Facebook or LinkedIn, you do not need to first get permission to follow another person on Twitter. How to Send a Message to Other Twitter Users
Start your tweet from your Twitter home page by typing the @ sign followed by the intended recipient’s Twitter username (which is like typing a recipient’s e-mail address). If you do not type the letter d before the @ sign (as explained below), this message will be able to be viewed by other Twitter users. Direct Messages All tweets are public, unless they are sent as direct messages. To send a private notification to that individual person, type the letter d followed by a Twitter username. A direct message is similar to the e-mail or text message you send now to just one person. Hashtags A hashtag consists of words or phrases in a tweet prefixed by a #. Why should you use a hashtag in your message? Other Twitter users search for tweets on a particular topic by typing, for example #SuperBowl. If you included that particular hashtag in your tweet, they will be able see your tweet when they do a search using that hashtag. As we mentioned earlier, 1.6 billion searches are done on Twitter each day. How Much Does Twitter Cost? All users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter Website or their smartphones. The service is free, except for any phone service provider fees. How Popular is Twitter? Since its creation in March 2006 and its launch in July 2006, Twitter has gained popularity worldwide. It is estimated that Twitter now has 300 million users, generating 300 million tweets a day and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day. Why the Word “Twitter”? [W]e came across the word "twitter," and it was just perfect. The definition was "a short burst of inconsequential information," and "chirps from birds." And that’s exactly what the product was. — Twitter founder Jack Dorsey
So what? Why should I care?
Tony Hsieh has used Twitter to help build Zappos into the world’s largest online shoe store. Your agency can benefit from his free insights! Get a quick introduction to Twitter from Twitter evangelist Tony Hsieh at: http://twitter.zappos.com/start. To see how you can use Twitter to promote your agency, please visit http://business.twitter.com
To follow in real time what people are saying about you and your business on Twitter, type in what your search words at: http://search.twitter.com, then press the Search button.
How do I get started?
• Go to www.twitter.com
Click the yellow Sign Up Now button Type your desired username, perhaps incorporating the name of your agency (up to 15 characters), password and a unique e-mail address.
Type the CAPTCHA code in the Type the Words Above text box, so that Twitter knows that a real human is attempting to set up a Twitter account. Click the Finish button.
Let Twitter Know What Your Interests Are • Choose some topics that you are interested in following by clicking the appropriate link, such as Business
• • •
Then, for the individual Twitter accounts you may be interested in following under that topic (such as consumerreports), click the Follow button. Slide the scroll bar at the right side of your screen to see more options. When finished, click the blue Next Step: Friends button at the bottom of the screen.
Who Would You Like to Follow on Twitter? • • The fun of social media, and Twitter specifically, is interacting with other people – in 140 character bursts! Which e-mail service do you use? If it is shown as an option, click one of the e-mail buttons, or the LinkedIn button, to discover which of your friends or connections are already using Twitter. For instance, I clicked the LinkedIn button, and received the following results:
Choosing to Follow Your Friends or Connections • 62 of my LinkedIn connections are currently on Twitter. I can select to follow one or more of them on Twitter by clicking the light blue Follow button across from their name. I can view more of my LinkedIn connections by sliding the scroll bar at the right side of the screen. After you have finished determining which of your friends to follow, go to the e-mail account that you entered in the first Twitter screen. In your e-mail account, you should find a confirmation e-mail there from Twitter. Open the e-mail, click on the link, and you will see a screen similar to the following:
• • • •
Step 2 – Get Twitter on your phone • • If you would like to receive tweets on your mobile phone, go to Step 2 on the right side of the screen, click the Set up mobile notifications link You will get a screen that looks like this:
• • •
Choose your country or region, enter your mobile phone number, and then verify your phone by clicking the Start button This service is free from Twitter, but standard message and data rates from your phone company may apply You will be able to send tweets by using the text messaging feature on your phone Let Your Followers Know Who You Are – Create a Twitter Profile
At the very top of the screen, click the Profile link, and you will be taken to a screen that looks like this:
Create Your Profile You may be a good egg, but let’s start by replacing that Picture in your Profile! To Upload Your Picture (so that your followers know that it is really you that they are following): • • • • Click the Browse button From the pop-up window, choose the folder and the file in which that fantastic digital photograph of you is stored Click the Open button Click the Save button, and your picture will be uploaded to Twitter.
Finish your profile by adding your Location, a URL for your Web site and a Bio (maximum of 160 characters – this is Twitter, after all!) Click the Save button when you are done.
You are Now Ready to Write Your First Tweet! • Click the Home link at the very top of your screen
Under 4. Write your first Tweet! click the Tell the world what’s happening in 140 characters or less link
• • • •
In the pop up box, type your first tweet – of 140 characters or less. As you type, the number of characters you have remaining will count down and be displayed next to the Tweet button. When you are satisfied with your message, click the Tweet button Your new Tweet will appear on the left side of the screen, under the Timeline tab. This is known as your Twitter Stream, as shown below.
Your Twitter Stream Contains your tweets and the tweets of those you follow in a chronological order, with the most recent tweets on top. • To see new tweets, refresh your browser. • Each tweet appears in a rectangular box. If you hover your cursor over the box, the box will change in color from white to blue and links will appear: o Click the Favorite link (with the star) to add that tweet to your Favorites list. o Click the Retweet link (with the double arrow) so that you can forward the tweet to your followers o Click the Reply link (with the single arrow) to send a message back to the person who sent the tweet •
@ Replies An @reply is a tweet that is directed specifically to one Twitter user, but is public and visible by all Twitter users. To send an @reply to someone – from your Twitter home page, in the text box under What’s happening?, type the @ symbol and (without a space) his or her Twitter username. Then type your message and click the Tweet button. How it works . . . You are following Amy and Bob. But Bob isn’t following Amy. If you send an @reply to Amy, that reply won’t show up in Bob’s feed. But if Bob is following Amy, he would also see that reply in his Twitter stream. Direct Messages (DMs) • • • • • Are private notes you send through Twitter Like regular tweets and @replies, are limited to 140 characters Can only be seen by the recipient Can only be sent to a Twitter user who is following you Only your own followers can send you a Direct Message To Send a Direct Message: • From your home page, on the right side of the screen, under Followers, click on the photograph of the person to whom you want to send a Direct Message. On the left side of the resulting screen, click the Message button In the text box that pops up, type your message (up to 140 characters) Click the Send button
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Alternatively, to Send a Direct Message: • • • • Click in the What’s happening? textbox Type d followed by a space, then the Twitter username of the person to whom you want to send a Direct Message Type a space after his username and then type your message Click the Tweet button to send the message
If You Would Like to Follow a Person Who is Following You • Click the Follow button, just to the left of the Send button Replying to Tweets • • • • • • • • Hover your cursor over the tweet The background color of the tweet will change in color from white to blue Click on the back arrow Reply link A text box will pop up, pre-populated with “@” and the person’s Twitter username Type your message, up to 140 characters minus the number of characters needed by “@username” Click the Tweet button Remember, ff your Twitter account is public, your @replies are also public Should you desire to send a private message, follow the steps to send a Direct Message Retweeting • • To forward a tweet you have received on to your followers, begin by hovering your cursor over the tweet The background color of the tweet will change from white to blue
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Click the double arrow Retweet link A box will pop up that says Retweet this to your followers? Click the blue Retweet button
Searching for People on Twitter (Besides Your E-mail Contacts) • • • • Use Twitter Search (http://search.twitter.com) Use People Search on Twitter (http://twitter.com/search/users) From your Twitter home page, click the Find People link in the upper right of the screen Go to the Google home page and type the first name, last name of the person and Twitter in the search box
Three Quick Ways to Use Twitter to Promote Your Business • • • Tweet links to photos on the Web from agency events Tweet links to new content on your Website Tweet links to insurance-related articles on the Web
Getting Started Blogging
“The most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself”
How “the Insurance Goddess” Blog Began Carrie Reynolds, co-owner of Alan Galvez Insurance of Bellefontaine, Ohio, began a blog about insurance. Carrie explains, “Since I like writing, I started a blog. But I needed a title that would interest people so that they would want to read further, so I thought: let’s make it intriguing. That’s how ‘Confessions of an Insurance Goddess’ came about.” Provide Content and Value, Not a Sales or Marketing Pitch Carrie warns that a blog is not the place to recycle your newspaper advertisements or to post “Call now for a free quote!” Instead, as I was presenting at their annual conference, one independent insurance agent in Tennessee told me that he uses his blog to begin discussions, such as by asking, “If your tree were to fall on your neighbor’s house, who would be responsible for the damage?” The agent enters the conversation and, as a result, shows that he is a trusted member of the community. Since he is viewed as the insurance expert, it allows him to write new policies for his blog participants. “If you give out valuable information, then people will respond,” Carrie Reynolds advises. “You can’t sell, sell, sell! If you do, you will turn people off. They don’t want to hear it! So I will write, ‘Did you know?’ or ‘Here’s something that’s going on in the community.’ Every once in a while I will throw in an insurance item. I don’t want to be sold to, nobody does. Instead, social media is all about making connections and building relationships. And if you continually add value to the relationship, people will remember you when it’s ‘insurance time.’” You can see Carrie’s insurance blog at http://insurancegoddess.com.
The Differences Between a Blog and a Website Compared to having just a Website, hosting a blog allows Carrie to have two-way communications and engage her clients, prospects and community on the Internet. Many agency Websites are simply “brochureware” or sales tools that tell how great an agency is. Visitors may go to the Website once and have no reason to return, unlike actively participating on a regularly updated blog.
But What Exactly is a Blog? Business Week says that there are 13 million regularly updated blogs and suggests that the blog is “simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself.” Back in December 1997, the word weblog, a combination of the words Web and log, was born. Eventually, weblog was shortened to just blog. Blogging really started to explode in 1999, when LiveJournal and Blogger (which we will discuss below) were launched. A typical blog features an entry, often sprinkled with graphics and videos, that the blog poster creates, followed by comments to that entry from readers. The blog is displayed in reverse chronological order with the newest entries appearing first.
Two Questions to Answer Before You Write Your Blog Before deciding to write your own blog, answer these two questions for yourself: 1. Will this blog be used for your thoughts or to represent the agency? 2. Is this something you see yourself doing for a long time?
What to Watch For With Your Blog
Peter Cashmore, CEO and founder of Mashable, one of the five most popular blogs on the Web, said the most important element of a successful blog is consistent, quality posts. According to a survey conducted by blogger Daren Rowse, 29% of respondents said the biggest reason they unsubscribe from blogs is that the blogger does not update his or her blog enough.
How to Start Your Own Blog You can start your own free blog with WordPress by following these instructions: http://learn.wordpress.com/get-started/ An even easier way to start a blog is with the free, Google-owned blogging platform called Blogger. Here are the ten simple steps to start your own blog on Blogger: 1) Go to www.blogger.com and click the Get started button:
Fill in the fields on the screen and click the Continue button in the lower right of the screen:
Enter the title for your new blog and the middle part of the URL that will uniquely identify your blog.
You can click on Check Availability to see if the URL is currently available. Again, click the Continue button in the lower right of the screen.
Google (who owns Blogger) will ask you to verify your identity. After you enter the information on the screen above, click the large Send verification code to my mobile phone button.
Enter the code you received on your cell phone, then click the Verify button.
This screen looks familiar! Enter the same information as in Step 3, above, and click the Continue button.
Now we’re gonna have some fun! Choose the background or template for your blog by clicking on it. (You didn’t think this was going to be boring, did you?) Then scroll down and click the Continue button in the lower right of this screen.
Voila! Click the Start Blogging button to enter content to your blog.
Enter the Title for your blog. Then either type or cut-and-paste from a Microsoft Word document in the big box. At any time, to see how your new blog is developing, click the View Blog link in the upper right of the screen above, then go back and make changes or additions. When you are satisfied with your masterpiece, click the Save Now button.
Getting Started with Local Search
Do you remember when you would “let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages?”
In the past, when consumers would need to determine who to call for help with their insurance needs, they would turn to the Yellow Pages. In fact, your agency may have even had a display ad in the telephone directory to try to capture this business. I worked for the Yellow Pages. At the time, I thought it would be a great way to express my marketing creativity and utilize my skills to help our customers differentiate themselves from their competition. But my boss really didn’t care. All that he was interested in was my ability to “move real estate.” That meant, if you had a quarter page display ad, he wanted me to bump you up to a half page ad. If you had a half page ad, I needed to sell you a full page advertisement. He didn’t really care what was in that ad, which is why most of the ads in our book looked exactly the same and didn’t get the optimal results we could have for our customers. Local search – the “new” Yellow Pages Today, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online, which is known as “local search.” Here is a test you may want to try: Assume that you are a consumer in your city or town looking for insurance information. Go to Google and type “insurance” along with the name of your city or town. Where does your agency appear in the search engine results? How to score well in local search Your agency can be among the first search engine results if you create a free Google Places listing. But, according to a Progressive Insurance survey, three out of four independent agencies still haven’t taken advantage of local search.
Further, according to data from CMO Council which was provided by eMarketer, even though consumers do their research online, only 12% of those surveyed bought their policies online. On the other hand, 62% used an agent to purchase their insurance policies. Google Places can help consumers locate their local independent insurance agent when they are ready to buy. What is Google Places? To help us define Google Places, let’s say you are a consumer in St. Paul, MN looking for information on insurance. You go to Google (which had an 84.3% market share in the United States in July 2012 among Internet search engines) and type “insurance St. Paul.” Below the paid listings, which are displayed in the top 3 positions on the screen, Google responds with the following results:
Under “Places for insurance near St Paul, MN,” you see seven Google Places listings.
When you click the “Place page” link for any of the listed businesses, you get another page with more information about that company. For instance, if you click the “Place page” link under Abbco Insurance Agency, Inc., you get the following Google Places page that contains a wealth of information about the agency:
Why should you sign up your agency for a Google Places listing? When you sign up for a Google Places listing for your agency, the benefits include: Prospects and clients can find your physical address, phone number and Website and a lot more information about the agency quickly and easily. Mobile phone users can find this information fast without using a computer. (Smartphones now outsell personal computers.)
Adding reviews to your Google Places listing can help it move up in the search engine rankings.
Why is it important to be placed well among the Google results? The top three Google results get almost 80% of the clicks, according to a Cornell University study. Almost 90% of clicks come from the first page of Google results, according to an Enquisite study. How can you create a free Google Places listing for your agency? Just follow these simple steps: In your Internet browser window, type www.google.com/places/ and press Enter. Create a Google account, if necessary, then the following screen will appear:
Choose your Country, enter your Phone Number and click the Find business information button. The next screen will appear:
• • • • • • • •
For Basic Information, enter the required fields of: Country Company/Organization Street Address City/Town State ZIP Main phone Category (such as “insurance agency”)
Scroll down and click the appropriate radio buttons and additional information for • Service Areas and Location Settings • Hours of operation
Check as many Payment options as are applicable. Optionally, you may enter Photos and Videos (as Abbco Insurance Agency has done) to enhance your Google Places listing.
Enter Additional Details and then click the Submit button. What happens next? A PIN or verification code will then be sent to either the business address or the business phone. Enter the PIN into your Google Places account. Once your listing has been verified, your listing will appear on Google. You may now be pleasantly surprised at your improved position in the Google search engine results when you type “insurance” and the name of your city or town. Why is PIN Verification necessary? PIN Verification is required to confirm that the person claiming and verifying the listing through Google Places is actually the business owner or an authorized representative of the business. What if I have questions?
If you need assistance, click the Google Places Help link at the bottom of your screen.
What’s next with local search? Now that you have claimed your free local listing on Google Places, visit GetListed.org, which will check your current listings and help you claim them with other major search engines like Yahoo and Bing.
You can also set up free listings at other directory sites like SuperPages.com:
Why take advantage of local search? Matthew Marko, a Marketing Process Manager for Progressive Insurance, says that free local search is “the best Web marketing strategy you’ve never heard. Local search can give your agency excellent visibility at the same moment consumers are looking for a local agent.”
Answering Your Unasked Questions About Social Media Marketing
Just like it seems a new social networking site arises each day, a new book on Social Media Marketing is released daily. (And that’s a good thing!) Unfortunately though, as I continue to research this ever-evolving topic, I have yet been able to find a resource that walks you step-by-step through how to build your professional presence on each of the top three social networking sites, plus discuss the use of blogging and Google Places. For this reason, I have been honored to collaborate with Agoragate to produce for you this Social Media Marketing Guide for Insurance Professionals, to show you how you too can quickly, easily and affordable engage your insurance clients – in the places many of them now congregate. As we now prepare to wrap up our discussion, I would like to share with you three final common questions (and answers) from the Social Media Marketing conferences I deliver across the country: 1) I already have a Website, why would I need Social Media Marketing? As mentioned in the introduction, I presented “eBay University” for eBay at sites nationwide. Rather than learning how to operate their online businesses through the popular auction site, these attendees could, of course, simply have created their own Websites to market their wares. The difference for them would have been the amount of traffic their sites would likely have attracted, compared with the monumental traffic on eBay. By having a presence on eBay, these business people could claim their share of the billions of dollars that are exchanged annually on the site. Many homegrown Websites, unfortunately, are simply “brochureware,” online sites that people may visit once, and then have no reason to return to. Their owners may need to dust off the cobwebs when, and if, they update these lonely sites. On the other hand, with the hundreds of millions of people abuzz using the social networking sites of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter each day, don’t you think it might benefit your business to be part of the conversation? Remember, Social Media Marketing entails engaging your insurance clients in two-way communications, not shouting at them through a megaphone, as one would likely do with a typical Website or traditional advertising.
Each of your clients is exposed to between 1,500 and 5,000 advertising impressions per day. (All they need to do is to walk into their neighborhood superstore!) They have become good at blocking out 99.99% of all ads (including mine and yours), which they see as interruptions. On the other hand, even as they become overloaded and overwhelmed with information, conversations still matter to them. Besides, with the millions of individual Websites that currently exist, it led Jerry Bloom, founder of Techvertising to say, “Trying to get attention via a typical business Website is like trying to get attention holding up an 8.5 by 11 inch sign in Times Square.” 2) Are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter likely to go the same way as Myspace? I worked for an electronic commerce company whose CEO defined an Internet year as lasting three months. Yes, things change on the Internet . . . and rapidly. The top three social networking sites of today are likely to change drastically over the months ahead. In fact, years from now, you may not even recognize them at all. It would be like comparing America Online from a dozen years ago to the AOL.com site of today. The key is that these social networking sites are very popular now. Don’t let your lack of knowledge about these sites intimidate you or hold you back from participating in conversations with your clients. If you can understand these Web 2.0 applications as they currently exist, it will be easier for you to master the tools of Web 3.0 when they become available. Unlike the familiar adage claims, knowledge is not power, but applied knowledge certainly is. 3) Where can I get further help with my Social Media Marketing? Feel free to e-mail me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my Website at www.januspresentations.com/social-media.htm. Let’s start a conversation!