If you want to become the "face of insurance" in your town, you should consider giving Instagram a try. Here's why:
I'll admit that on the surface Instagram may not seem like an appealing business venture to most agents and brokers.
Only 35% of all adult internet users have an Instagram and 80% of Instagram's user base consists of people living outside of the U.S. Not to mention that while Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow you to leverage a wide variety of tactics to help you connect with your audience (links, reactions, groups, photos, videos) — Instagram is primarily a visual-based platform. But this doesn't tell the complete story.
Just because the overall demographics of Instagram may not be your "ideal customer" doesn't mean you should ignore it. With 1 billion active users, including 64% of people aged 18-29 and 40% of people aged 30-49, chances are — some of your clients and prospects are "on the gram" (or they will be soon). The truth is, businesses have been flocking to Instagram over the past few years, and with good reason.
Here's why Instagram is intriguing for businesses:
- Instagram is by far the most engaging social platform for brands — 10 times higher than Facebook and 84 times higher than Twitter. (And you should think of an Instagram account as an element of your "agent brand".)
- Visual appeal matters in 93% of purchases! Plus, 80% of people remember what they see and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.
- People don't trust businesses. With Instagram, you can put a face with your business. In fact, photos on Instagram that show faces get 38% more likes than photos without.
Simply put, there's more to Instagram than meets the eye — and it's inaccurate reputation of being purely selfies and food photos. (There are dogs, too.)
Here are 3 tips to help you make the most of your business Instagram account:
1. Optimize your posts with hashtags and location data
The key to making Instagram effect is to cut through the noise and focus on your target audience. Hashtags and location data can help you do just that!
It's recommended to use between nine - 12 hashtags for each post. And no — #InsuranceAgent shouldn't be one of them... Unless you're hoping to network with other agents. But for the most part, you want to focus on the hashtags your audience is using.
Do a little research on Instagram and see what hashtags your target audience is using. You can also follow specific hashtags on Instagram to see what kind of content is frequently associated with that tag.
There are also tools, like HASHTAGIFY, that give you free ratings for hashtags. The trick is to find hashtags that aren't so popular that they'll get lost in the crowd, but also aren't so obscure that they're never searched. I typically look for hashtags with between a 15-30 rating on the HASHTAGIFY popularity scale. The site will even give you similar hashtags so you can compare.
Save groupings of hashtags in your phone notes, and copy and paste the relevant ones each time you post. Select hashtags based on:
- The location of your target audience. People search their local hashtags all the time to look for things to do, people to meet, businesses to work with and see what's going on. Most cities and areas have specific hashtags. If you're not sure what they are, check out the social media pages of community-centric businesses like visitors centers, local magazines or newspapers, recreational groups or city leaders.
- Your ideal customer and their interests. Do you have one client that exemplifies what it means to be in that industry? Someone who lives and breathes their profession? Visit their page and see what hashtags they use. Also check out what hashtags industry leaders in that space use.
- What's trending. Things like #NationalDonutDay, #NationalPetYourDogDay and #NationalShopLocal day are not (necessarily) going to help you find your target audience — making these your last priority. However, if you're looking to gain more interactions to help build your credibility, finding popular "in the moment" hashtags could certainly help your engagement! You can search on Twitter for what's trending or use a "days of the year" calendar to help plan ahead for unique occasions and holidays.
When you post a photo on Instagram, you have the option to add a location — and you should! Posts with a location get 79% more engagement. Many Instagramers look up locations on Instagram before they visit, giving posts with locations more views and longevity. Don't pick locations that are too off the beaten path (or creepy... like your house) but if you're at a popular restaurant, park, venue, etc. — post it. This will also help position yourself as someone who knows the area and gives back to other local businesses. If you're not anywhere noteworthy or specific, just add your general city or town to increase your reach.
2. Post consistently
Let's say you post a picture from a local charity event and tag the location. Four months later, Sally Smith who is new the area and looking to possibly open several restaurants, looks up that venue on Instagram to see what it's all about. She sees your picture, visits your page, only finds three posts and immediately goes on with her day. If Sally thought you looked like a local expert, she might remember your name and eventually call you for coverage for her three restaurants she opens a year later. Consistency leads to credibility.
To be honest, posting once a day would be ideal. But most people don't have time for that. So just pick a manageable schedule — whether it's once, twice, three times a week — and stick to it. The best times to post on Instagram are weekdays between 10 AM - 3 PM.
3. Share the right content
I may have mentioned that photos with faces get more likes than those without, but please do not make your account only selfies. Each post should be deliberate and lead back to your purpose of becoming "the face of insurance." To keep it simple, focus on posts that are: community-based, value-based or relationship-based. Here are a few examples of each:
- Show community. Post pictures of yourself (and others) helping at local charity events, supporting local businesses or visiting clients. All of these things show that you are a part of the community that you are trying to get more business from.
- Provide value. Risk management content can provide your clients with extra value. If you see a good example of building maintenance, driver safety, security, etc. — take a picture and share it with your clients. (If this is a private company or if people are in the photos, make sure you have permission.)
- Build relationships. While you want to stay professional, you can also share aspects of your life that will help you build relationships with your clients. From hobbies to families, to interests — these things make you seem more personable and relatable and can be great conversation starters.
Instagram is just like every other marketing tactic — a trial and error experiment. You can choose to give it a try and weigh the results, or you can wait it out and reconsider down the line. But, if Instagram continues to gain traction at its current speed, chances are you might want to start building your audience sooner, rather than later.
Have you already started an Instagram account? If so, share your thoughts and tips below!
Bri Burkhart, Marketing
Bri is an over-enthusiastic dog mom, pop culture fanatic and Instagram addict. She enjoys eating pizza, practicing yoga and hiking.
Millennials are entering the job market in ever-increasing numbers. Here's why and how your agency can benefit from them.