Five years ago, we used the graphic shown above to demonstrate the fundamental difference between traditional sales and marketing and social media marketing. We argued that traditional marketing always started with a relatively large number of people, knowing that the majority will not show interest. Direct mail with a 1% or 2% response rate was considers good. Social marketing was upside down – it is all about starting small and growing outwards through the networks of advocates.

This was the concept of viral distribution and even though insurance content rarely reached viral levels, the principal is the same – tapping into the social sharing culture. One this principal is accepted, everything changes –  the content must be perceived as valuable (and sharable) by the first point of contact.

Now social media has evolved but only to the extent that it and traditional marketing have blended. Social platforms provide outstanding targeting opportunities so it is possible to not only reach the perfect audience, but it comes with the added benefit of sharing. Social can amplify messages way beyond what search ads can offer but too many insurers look at social marketing is the same was as traditional marketing platform.

We hear all about the loss of organic reach and yes, it has gone away, but second and third level organic reach is very active. In other words, reach an audience through paid social reach who might pass along the information. To take advantage, marketers must think about who to target and why those people will share with their networks.

As a simple example, insurers target local agents on Facebook, not because they are customers (which depending on the internal view they might be) but with the intention the agent shares to the people in their own local community. The agent is the advocate and amplifies reach. This is an obvious example but too few insurers look or other advocate groups – customers, employees, members of a group etc. The key is not to think of what you as a marketer want to say but what would your advocate share.

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