We’ve talked about the evolution into social business and offered some ideas of what that might look like in your agency. Here I’m going to offer some specific suggestions for getting started with that process.
Remember, social should not be an end goal itself; social media tools should become an integrated tactic within the operations of departments. And for it to be effective in helping you achieve your company vision and goals, there is a hierarchy that needs to be followed:

  1. Have a clearly defined purpose and vision for the company along with clear messaging about what makes you a unique and compelling business.
  2. Have the vision broken down into clearly defined strategic objectives, including a communication plan.
  3. Recognize that social media tools are to be used as tactics, along with other specific programs and process, to help achieve those strategic objectives.

In order to effectively integrate social into the plan, you first need to learn what it can do for you and then you can figure out how to go about accomplishing it. And that starts with education.

Form a team

Since we’re talking about integrating into business operations, we want to have a team of folks across disciplines participating in the learning process and the strategy. If a department thinks it doesn’t relate to them, be sure they’re on this team at least in the beginning - good business decisions are made based on what we know.

Your team should consist of people who:

  • understand business
  • are good at communicating business strategy
  • are able to gather information from people, interpret that information, and share the findings
  • are enthusiastic about your company

Why do I need a team? Shouldn’t I just hire someone to be in charge of social media?

It can be tempting to hire someone young who’s comfortable with the technology and pass all of this off to them. But that’s a mistake. Notice that we’re talking about business operations and strategy. Your best friend’s niece who’s in college and has a million friends on Facebook does not know your business operations, your strategy, or your messaging. And she likely doesn’t understand what significant or nuanced ideas she comes across that could be really important to the future of your business.

Working in the agency and industry and having a healthy dose of business acumen is what gives you that level of practical knowledge. That’s what you want to tap into. People can learn to navigate the social platforms with a little education. Learning your business inside and out takes a lot more.

Unless you’re a large company with a major marketing strategy, hiring someone specifically for social media is unnecessary. Most independent benefits and insurance agencies will be just fine within your existing structure.

However, while you don’t need someone specifically in charge of social media, you do need someone to be in charge of company messaging. They need to make sure that everyone participating in social has the knowledge they need to be on target with the company message and are working within your corporate guidelines and strategy. Again, this likely comes from someone already on your team.

Educate yourselves

Now that you’ve got the team together, read a couple of books and get your arms wrapped around what this means for your company and how each department can use this as a part of their business processes.

Discuss each book and talk specifically about what it means for your company. Have great debates on how it relates to you and what you might do with it. Take rigorous notes on these discussions and use this as the basis for forming a plan of action and eventually communication with the rest of the company on what you’re doing and why.

Here are a couple of foundational books that will help you really comprehend social business:

I recommend reading The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck to understand the evolution of social media and why it's important for business today and into the future.

Then I recommend The Now Revolution by Jay Baer & Amber Naslund to understand how to structure your organization to incorporate social media as an integrated business tool throughout your company – to some degree you will need to restructure your business/processes. This book will provide a great road map for what you need to know and how to get there.

Learn from what you read & hear

As you get going and start the process of becoming a social business, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to do something with the information you learn. Keep this team together to have ongoing meetings about what you’re learning. Have everyone bring their findings to the team and decipher what it means to your business – should you be changing processes or product/services as a result of what you’re hearing?

It’s important to have leadership involved in these meetings because you’re not simply talking social media, you’re talking business strategy.

Photo by nagora.

Insurance Agency Marketing Assessment