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Young Broker of the Year

Social media: connecting in new ways

Finalists

Andrew Clark: broker, Marsh Canada, Toronto

Jeffrey M. Jones: vice-president, Jones & Associates Insurance, Thunder Bay

Scott Maskell: broker, Glenny Insurance Broker Ltd., Fort Erie

 

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can open up a virtual world of possibilities for businesses looking to reach new clients, advertise inexpensively and promote company initiatives to create a more wide-reaching brand. Though the finalists for Young Broker of the Year all recognize the importance of new social platforms, they have also expe- rienced challenges in creating an impactful social media presence for themselves and their firms.

Andrew Clark, a broker at Marsh Canada Limited, uses social media platforms to develop business opportunities and maintain client relationships. His dedication to social media is paying off; he recently signed a new client after they searched for a broker on LinkedIn and came across his profile. He also uses the site to recruit for his team at Marsh. Though he finds social media sites, such as LinkedIn, very helpful, he says that developing an engaging social media presence is sometimes difficult. Given the overabundance of content on the Internet, getting clients to post questions or comments and engage with material is an ongoing struggle. “The biggest challenge is getting people to take action upon what you put out there,” he says.

Similarly, Scott Maskell, a broker at Glenny Insurance Broker Ltd. in Fort Erie, says creating original content that clients will find valuable is not an easy task. He spends a lot of his own time posting his opinions on social media sites because, he says, he wants people to be able to “identify with Scott Maskell.” Social media websites also allow him to easily offer his perspective and knowledge on insurance industry issues, but “the challenge is trying to find some- thing that’s unique and a little bit different than what you normally find out there; something that the consumer will read and find interesting,” he says.

Maskell is working on developing a company website with a greater social presence, that will include video, blog posts and more engaging content for its readers. He says his com- pany’s goal is to “create a story” that clients will find intrigu- ing. One idea Maskell hopes to include on the website is a section that examines client claims stories (without revealing personal details) that other readers can learn from.

We recognize that social media is going to be a big aspect of conducting business moving forward. We’re looking at ways to implement programs that are going to help us obtain and attract new business.” — Jeff Jones

For Jeff Jones, vice-president at Jones & Associates Insurance in Thunder Bay, ensuring his brokerage has a good reputation in the community is the number one goal. But if you’d asked Jones a couple of years ago how his brokerage would go about developing its brand, he probably wouldn’t have said through social media. “Things have changed in the last five years,” he says. “Most brokers didn’t even offer quotes over the phone five years ago.” Nowadays, it’s a dif- ferent story. “Right now we’re implementing plans to market using Facebook and other social media tools. We revamped our website last year and we’ve been doing online quoting. We’re really going to look at promoting that in the next few months,” he says. “For us, we recognize that social media is going to be a big aspect of conducting business moving forward. We’re looking at ways to implement programs that are going to help us obtain and attract new business.”

Even though Jones & Associates Insurance realizes social media is important, in reality, finding the time and resources to devote to a consistent social media presence isn’t always the top priority. “We started a Facebook page this year and we were only posting on it once a week or every five days,” he says. But when Thunder Bay was hit with a massive flood in May, updating clients through social media fell by the wayside. Jones says that if his brokerage is serious about developing a social media presence, they have to be consistent—no matter what. “It’s easy to throw something up every once in a while,” he says, “but if you’re not on top of it all the time and constantly adding something to it, then it’s not going to work for you.”

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Copyright 2012 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the October 2012 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

Transcontinental Media G.P.