Yes, you read that title properly. Every independent insurance agency should be making the most of Instagram as a part of their digital marketing plan. I’ll give you three reasons right off the bat that should help convince you: it allows you to connect with your customers and clients, visually promote your agency’s brand, and it’s free ROI. If you don’t believe me, that means you must not have tried it out for your agency yet, because ours is enjoying the positive benefits behind Instagram on a daily basis, and I would never go back on including this in my digital marketing plan.
For those of us who are a bit new to Instagram or haven’t heard about it before, allow me to explain what this social network is all about. First and foremost, it is a free social network for all users to enjoy. Within this network, 100% of the content is visually-based, so it’s either pictures or videos for the most part. You can include a brief description, hashtags, location, and a few other minor details with each of your posts, but each will still be visually based. The most common age group on this social network is millennials, which makes it a great platform for you to connect with and understand their generation, but you can still find users of all ages on this network as well. Instagram only works on mobile devices, so if you’d like to get started with this social network, you’re going to need a smart phone or tablet!
As I mentioned, Instagram is only capable of sharing photos or pictures as well as videos up to fifteen seconds in length. It also allows you to “follow” other users, and in turn, create a newsfeed based on the posts of only users you follow. It’s a very simple platform for the most part, which is one of the reasons it became so popular so fast. As of April 2016, it has up to 400 million monthly active users (that’s more than Twitter!), has over 75 million users on a daily basis, and at least 20% of all internet users have an Instagram account. Those are statistics that you shouldn’t be ignoring. Let’s talk about some more reasons why every insurance agency, or small business for that matter, should be making the most of this powerful social network.
Instagram is a great network to expand your overall reach, or extend your audience. It allows you to form one-on-one connections with your audience by letting users follow one another, but there are also ways to reach people outside of your established network as well. The first thing you can start thinking about with expanding your reach is to incorporate hashtags into your Instagram post. For those who aren’t familiar, hashtags are using the pound or “hash” symbol in front of keywords or phrases to attract users with similar interests. Whenever you make a post, it’s important to include these hashtags, because they make your posts discoverable. Other users can search for hashtags on Instagram, so even if they aren’t directly connected to you, your post will still show up if they search for a hashtag that you used. For example, we have our Flag Day Barbecue coming up for our agency where we hand out free American flags to our customers. When we take pictures or videos during our event on our mobile phones, we can upload those pictures and videos to our company’s Instagram later on. When we do so, we will use hashtags such as #FlagsfromParadisoIns, #Patriotism, and #CookOut. Tags that are universal, such as #Patriotism and #Cookout, will come up in user searches pretty frequently, while #FlagsfromParadisoIns is an example of a hashtag we created to prompt our users to shout us out in social media.
Similarly speaking, Instagram also has trends like any other social network, or trending content that you can use to your advantage as well. When content is trending, meaning it’s showing up in the news or in the top stories on Twitter, for example, or you’re hearing about it constantly on other social media networks, that might be a good time to post about that content yourself to your company’s Instagram. As long as the trending content aligns with your agency’s general overall tone on Instagram or won’t make your audience perceive you any differently, then it could be good to post trending content to get more engagement or visibility.
Lastly, Instagram also makes use of paid-for advertising, or what we like to call “paying to play.” By investing some of your marketing budget into your company’s Instagram, your posts will reach users outside of your network who have interests similar to your posts based on the demographics you so choose to target. Instagram was bought by Facebook though, so any advertising management you’d like to do on Instagram is done right through Facebook’s ad manager by syncing your accounts. If you’d like to get started with advertising on Instagram, I would suggest having your marketing team take a look at what options Facebook advertising has available.
Building trust is a huge part of what Social Media is all about. Some people believe that when they open new social media accounts, they are going to see their new leads triple, or develop all sorts of new business, but I will tell you that that’s not quite the case. While social media will sometimes bring you fresh leads, it’s more of an existing clientele nurturing system. Social media will indirectly bring you a very strong ROI; when you think about it, it is used to nurture your client relationships, and if there is a strong enough bond, those customers and clients will be apt to talk about your agency and generate more word of mouth referrals for your agency – and that’s the goal at the end of the day. Not to mention, once you establish trust with your audience, your renewal rate is sure to skyrocket, because they’ll want to stick around.
You can establish trust in many ways on social media, and that includes Instagram. Like I mentioned earlier, it is a great way to help with visually establishing or maintaining your agency’s brand. Your marketing team should have the ability to create branded visuals following your agency’s visual branding guidelines, and if you don’t already have some in place, I would consider speaking to a branding professional. Your audience will learn to recognize your agency’s brand, and will understand subconsciously which posts are yours versus your competitors’. In order to properly establish trust though, you have to have a healthy balance of photoshopped branded visuals with organic photos of your agency, staff, or events. Showing that you are a real person or being personable in your approach is a great way to encourage your audience to interact with you online.
All in all, I hope you see the strengths behind this powerful social network. This visually inclined network has the ability to expand your agency’s audience while developing trust along the way, and is a great tool in assisting your renewals and word of mouth referrals. Let’s get social, people!