Social Media – Insurers are from Mars and Agents are from Venus


Share on LinkedIn

In the 90’s a John Gray wrote the book “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”. The book sold over 50 million copies and became the de facto way of demonstrating different

viewpoints. This book came to mind while I was researching the relationship between insurance carriers and local agents in social media. The key point is that carriers and agents need each other and social media provides a great – if as yet underused – way to improve their relationships.

Insurers struggle with attracting “fans” on social media (maybe the manufacturers of Preparation-H have a harder task) but why would anyone want to be a fan of their insurance company? It would be after all a pretty sad reflection on your social status. Consequently, insurers swap “likes” for rewards such as sweepstake entries or charitable donations. Whether or not these are true fans remains a largely unanswered question.

After recruiting fans, insurers struggle to maintain meaningful conversations. It is like being seated next to the local insurance agent at a dinner party – and we all know how that goes. To counter this lack of natural banter, insurers often engage with trivial topics (and all these are real) such as “the most underappreciated musical instrument”, “favorite 1980s movies”, and “Cheerios or Cheetos”. To be honest, watching insurers in social media is a bit like watching a sixth-grade dance.

Now look at the agents’ perspective. Social media is a sales tool; it is a way to connect with existing customers and generate referrals. Social media is an extension of how they think and work. Agents have no hesitation in recruiting friends on Facebook or LinkedIn. Engaging with contacts on social media or at the Rotary Club is just part of a normal day.

Ryan Hanley of the Murray Group agency in Albany epitomizes this approach. His number one objective is to retain existing customers. This requires excellent customer service, approach-ability and always being in touch. His second objective is to grow through referrals so a good reputation is vital. Hanley never wanted to be a social media expert; he is an agent but resourceful and accomplished enough to write a blog and is comfortable with social media platforms. He routinely asks his customer if they are on social media, and if so, seeks permission to ‘friend them’. As a personal request, this is usually accepted. He writes blog posts to help his customers and posts messages with strong local interest. He is not trying to sell but deepen relationships. He takes advantage of the fact that Facebook distributes any dialogue he has with his friends to their network, thereby publicizing the relationship.

Hanley takes the referral process further by targeting Facebook ads at the friends of his current network including the name and picture of their mutual friend. He only pays for clicks and limits his spend to $3 a day, providing him with three clicks of which about one a day develops into a prospect.

If it is so simple, why doesn’t every agent do this? The answer is just as simple – they are not Hanley. Not every agent has the ability or desire to write blogs or the time to post messages every day. This is where insurers and agents could really help each other: insurers need social media fan recruitment, and agents need content. It is a natural fit yet few insurers have developed programs to create an influence channel. It is an extension of how the industry already works but sometimes the shiny new toy can blind us from the obvious.

They may have different viewpoints but agents and insurers could better harness the power of social media to help them achieve their common goals.

This article is adapted from one printed in SocialEyes – for more information visit

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Terry Golesworthy
As the president of The Customer Respect Group for 7 years, I focus on the online experience of consumers. Online experience has always been bigger than the company website, from the response to email to integration to other offline channels. It has now grown to include social media.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here