Craig Freeman, director of digital services at Lamb and brandformula, was interviewed today by Insurance Age about social media engagement in the insurance industry. Read the article below to gain an insight into his expert thoughts on the topic.
Craig Freeman, director of digital services at brandformula has revealed that he has seen a “huge sea change” in the way brokers engage with social media although he is yet to experience chartered brokers using it to promote their status.
Mr Freeman, told Insurance Age: "In the last 18 months we have had a broker get in touch every other week asking us to come in and talk about digital which is a huge sea change from just over three years ago."
According to Mr Freeman, an expert at the specialist B2B branding agency which has a particular strength in financial services marketing, in the past brokers were worried about finding out what was being said about their companies on social media because the bosses may not be pleased.
"It [the change] has been driven by the smaller brokers initially who were willing to take a little bit of risk," he claimed adding that the two most relevant avenues from a professional stand point are Twitter and LinkedIn.
"LinkedIn is an extension of the traditional way of doing business [such as] networking and shaking people's hands," explained Mr Freeman. "It is the relationship they have offline in an online environment."
He listed the reasons for brokers to connect on LinkedIn as including getting involved in groups, professional development opportunities and the chance to associate with their peer group to share ideas and insight.
Turning to Twitter he said: "If they [brokers] have got good content on their website and have people in their business who want to communicate then Twitter is brilliant.
"But our advice is always to focus back on the website."
Two potential mistakes that Mr Freeman has seen are having out of date content or too basic a homepage whereas he advocates that the call to action on Twitter should be to visit the website.
One way that he suggests brokers can generate interesting, engaging content on their website is through a weekly staff meeting.
He recommends that staff highlight questions they have been asked that week or articles they have read which they have found thought provoking. In turn the company should generate a 300 word blog for specialists to distribute on social media.
Massive time waster
"Social media can be a massive time waster if they [brokers] are not doing it in the right way," he pointed out.
"I know a lot of brokers who have spent an hour on Twitter and haven't talked to anyone useful or posted anything of use."
An area of social media that he sees as coming back into fashion for the right sort of brokers is Facebook.
"Lot of brokers are getting more savvy with the content," stated Mr Freeman.
It has been a notoriously difficult platform to sustain with interesting and engaging content and certainly will not be right for every broker. His advice is to make sure that "there is an underlying education message as well as the value adding entertainment area which is what drags people in on social media."
However for chartered status it appears there remains more opportunity than delivery.
Mr Freeman admitted he had yet to be asked to promote chartered status although he has proactively told chartered clients to use it to their advantage, particularly on LinkedIn.
"If you do have chartered status tell people and make people it is on there [LinkedIn]," he urged.
"Things like LinkedIn are your shop window and what people will see first.
"The more you can do to show that you are professional, credible and knowledgeable the better and chartered status is part of that."