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Twitter 101 for an Insurance Agent

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that enables users to send short messages, which are called tweets. The tweets can only be up to 140 characters in length and are posted on your profile, your “followers’” profiles, and if you choose, can be posted publicly.
 
Its application has many uses for both individuals and businesses. On an individual basis, users can quickly broadcast information to their friends and family about what they are up to.

Insurance agents are using Twitter as a tool to broadcast the agency’s latest news, interact with customers, find potential customers, learn what the public is saying about their agency, and follow their competition.  Author, Bill Tancer of Hitwise, recently published an article in Time Magazine citing “While it is easy to dismiss Twitter as a kid’s online chat tool; its real demographics reaches into the business world”.
 
What Are Some Best Practices/Tips for Using Twitter?
  • Post your picture or logo.
    • It’s no secret with insurance being an intangible product, what we often find is we are selling ourselves. Add that personal touch by posting your picture.
  • Don’t be a Tweeterbox. A Tweeterboxer is someone that posts too many messages, in other words, talks too much. It’s a surefire way to get your followers to leave.
  • Keep your Twitter profile real by promoting local community events, other articles your customers may find of interest, and even short stories about yourself and your staff.
  • Don’t sell. Offer content of value to your followers to keep them following. For example, answer common questions your agency receives, such as:
    • Why is my house insured for more than it’s worth? (Replacement Cost)
    • Is there a grace period on auto insurance?
    • What is non-owners insurance?
    • Does my policy cover anyone that drives my car?

The intent is to drive traffic to your website, where the user has the opportunity to learn more about your agency.  To accomplish this, post the question on your Twitter profile with a link to answer posted in a blog on your website.
 
What is a Blog?
 
Short for “Web Log”, a blog is a shared online journal that is frequently updated for the general public’s viewing.  Insurance Website Builder has a built-in blog option.  The blog system allows you to place unlimited logs on your site.  Furthermore, readers have the ability to link your blog to any number of social networking sites automatically through our easy Bookmark widget.  Others linking to your site increases your search engine rankings.
 
Free Helpful Twitter Tools
 
With the restraint of only 140 characters, often times including a lengthy website link to a blog can present a problem.  There are several free sites that create a shortened link that will redirect  to your site.  
 
www.tinyurl.com
 
We used tinyurl.com to shorten a link to an article we posted about employee theft.  The link to the article was 79 characters long – http://www.getitc.com/blog/role_of_automation_in_preventing_employee_theft.aspx

We visited www.tinyurl.com and created an alias www.tinyurl.com/EmployeeTheft.  The benefit of tinyurl.com (other than being free) is you can often times dictate what the alias link will be; in this case, we were able to choose “EmployeeTheft”.  However, tinyurl.com does not provide any tracking mechanisms.  
 
www.inek.net
 
Inek.net will also create a shorter alias for a lengthy link. While with this free service you are not able to dictate the alias name, you can measure the number of clicks that site receives.  Every good marketing plan includes a measurement tool.




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