The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America recently announced that 81% of its financial representatives are actively interacting with customers and business partners online. After its social media initiatives proved successful, the program was expanded to its national wholesaler network.
Guardian utilizes content, compliance, and retention software to ensure that representatives and wholesalers have the tools they need to build their resumes, reputations, and relationships through social platforms in order to increase business. Relevant materials include images, articles, and videos that can be posted online to attract the attention of new clients.
Its current social strategy began development about three years ago. “We saw an opportunity to connect with the omnichannel consumer,” says Beth Wood, VP of agency marketing at Guardian. Social platforms provide a means of connecting with people inside and outside representatives’ networks.
The road to social success was a tricky one. “Compliance is a very important part of our social strategy,” Wood explains. In addition to strategy and sharing third-party content, compliance is the third part of the “three-legged stool” that makes up Guardian’s social media approach. Its compliance department became a partner in the initiative when Guardian chose to work with Socialware, software that helps to ensure representatives are operating within the guidelines of social media compliance.
To guarantee that employees play by the rules, Guardian collaborated with LIMRA to create a social media certification course. “They worked very closely with us, from the basics to writing recommendations and accepting endorsements.” Representatives are required to complete the course before using social media and participate in an annual agency meeting with a trainer. They also have access to a variety of online training courses.
In 2011, Guardian rolled out the earliest phase of its social media initiative to a pilot group of 125 financial representatives. The test period brought positive results, including a boost in client calls, meetings, and presentations, and the translation of increased activity into sales. With more prospects converting into clients, Guardian extended the program to six agencies that were most comfortable with social media. As agency leaders shared their success, she says, more offices began to hop on the bandwagon.
Today, about 2,500 Guardian representatives in 90 offices across the country are active on social media. Most use LinkedIn, their primary platform, to connect with larger circles in their professional communities. Many also use Facebook to achieve different social goals. “Facebook, for us, is more of a reputation platform for our agencies.” While Guardian doesn’t require a certain amount of posts, most representatives share 13 pieces of content a month.
Guardian plans to continue training new agents on social techniques and staying current with changes made to popular social platforms. “We always have new reps coming in,” says Wood. “With that come new opportunities for success.”
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Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio