I had a very interesting and thought-provoking conversation with Terry Golsworthy, president of The Customer Respect Group last week. We were discussing the effective use of social technologies by our industry. Specifically, we were discussing what carriers could or should be doing to be more effective in their own social initiatives but more importantly how they could be doing more to help their agents and collectively present a more compelling presence in the social universe.
What do agents want from carriers? In the many discussions I have had with agents the answer is, “It depends” and more often than not they are not really sure. Frequent answers include content, leads, and co-funded social marketing programs. Generating good content for their own blogs and social posts is a common concern voiced by many agents. But what type of content do they want from carriers? What can carriers do to really help? For example, are “white labeled” carrier-created articles that agents personalize the best we can do?
Here is what I think. Currently, it is not uncommon to find both parties acting independently and without a clear sense of purpose. Carriers and agents would benefit from the creation and implementation of collaborative social strategy—and implementing such a strategy involves more then just creating content to be shared. One of the first steps would be to identify and agree on the business objectives of their collective social efforts. That is, do they want to increase dialogue and touch points with customers and prospects? Do they want to improve loyalty and reduce “churn?” Do they want to find new customers and write more new business? All of the above?
As I see it, the opportunity here is for agents and carriers to be working in support of each other to provide the consumer with interesting and valuable content—and promote the unique value of the independent agency system. In addition to building online personality and humanizing brands, effective collaboration would require agents and carriers to be watching, listening and monitoring each other. For example, carriers would leverage the local touch points of their agency force by commenting on, re-tweeting and/or sharing posts made by agents.
Clearly, I don’t have all the answers here. I’d like to know what you think and what your experience has been. If you are an agent, what carriers do you think have done a good job in support of your social networking efforts? If you are a carrier, how are you working to help your agents? What is working? What is not?