In the U.S., 62% of adults receive their news from some social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter or Reddit, according to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center. Benefit industry experts are taking advantage of the popularity to alert their clients to changes of regulatory and legal statuses of employee benefits, and to grow their business and deepen client relationships.
Jeff Yaniga, chief revenue officer for Maestro Health, sees platforms such as Slack as a place where clients and advisers can pose questions to one another and use the space like a think tank. “When we enroll big groups, you can see on the internal chatter machine that they are asking questions to each other,” Yaniga says.
Some brokers are using social media as a means to build their clientele. Dave Jackson, owner of Jackson Insurance, used Facebook to engage his community and within three years managed to reap a 4,000% ROI in the process. “People began to call my agency because they liked what I did in the community as an individual and the phone just continued to ring,” he says. “We are easily the largest agency in the neighborhood, among any captive agency or independent, and we’ve surpassed about 15% of the market.”
Yaniga says Maestro has a presence on many social media platforms, including Instagram, in order to reach millennials. “Social media has become the new smoke break or coffee break,” Yaniga says.
“With the right hashtag strategy, the right content distribution, engagement and search strategy, I can connect with people I would have never been able to connect with seven or eight years ago,” he says.
Yaniga adds that having a social media presence for a business allows Maestro to monitor their status as a brand and how they can stay relevant to trending topics. “We use social media to do what we call ‘trend jacking,’” Yaniga says. “If there is a trend or a buzz that affects our business we try and insert ourselves into it.”
Janell Williams, employee benefits attorney for group health plan compliance and consulting at CMC Consulting, says social media helps small firms to compete. “You can have a larger firm or a smaller firm that is getting information out to so many people through these social media sources,” Williams says.
“As long as you have one person clicking and typing I don’t think that it really matters how big your firm is,” she adds.
Yaniga and Williams agree that Twitter is considered the most frequently used platform to stay connected. “I think you can get information out through Twitter more efficiently with links associated to your post that gets more information to your people,” Williams says.
Yaniga sees a professional dividing line between sites like Twitter and LinkedIn over Facebook and Instagram. “I use my Facebook for more social interaction with friends and family than I do professional,” Yaniga says. “Without a doubt, when we post content on LinkedIn or when I write blogs, it’s the most engaged channel.”
Jackson, meanwhile, is utilizing his personal relationships on Facebook to boost his business. “It has been a significant resource, not just for our neighbors, but for me as an agency owner to help get our name out there and get instant recognition,” he says. “I had no intent on doing it this way, but that’s how it turned out.”