2:11 — Farmers Insurance sells almost all of its product through its thousands of agents. Farmers developed an “Agent-strategy” before it developed a “social strategy.”
2:13 — Michelle shares that Farmers uses Hearsay, a platform that can be accessed by agents for both information and engagement, and it also provides the social team with a dashboard of analytics of what agents are producing and how they compare to other agents.
2:15 — Michelle says that Hearsay also allows agents to link with personal social channels using a tool called “Social Signals,” allowing agents to track life stage events that can often be purchase triggers for customers.
2:17 — The AgentSocial program is three years old, and approximately one in three agents are enrolled. Most of the enrollments came in the first two years of the program, and then uptake slowed in the third year. Part of this was due to skepticism on the part of the agents, as well as a small social team to promote the program and its effectiveness.
2:19 — Michelle points out that another struggle of the program was using an authentic voice through the program. They found the ideal split was 80% agent-produced content and 20% corporate-produced content. One of the most successful pieces of content are agent stories in which agents respond to a prompt.
2:21 — Hooray! When Michelle joined the Farmers team, the team grew from 2 people to 7 people, including a new analyst among other new hires. They now had the staff power to dig into the program, and they found great results. Agents enrolled in the social program consistently perform better than those who are not, including a 67% increase in new business. Agents who post more frequently and are more active show even higher lifts in quotes and new business.
2:23 — Michelle notes that the success of the AgentSocial program has helped the company buy in to the program and increasingly engage agents. For example, enrollment in the AgentSocial program is now included in the base marketing package offered by Farmers in 2015, and they expect 60% opt-in rates for enrollment. This will mean a huge growth in enrollment for the program.
2:25 — Michelle says that the increased enrollment has reduced pressure on her team to get agents into the program, and it is allowing them to re-focus on their social education program. This includes territorial workshops, twice-monthly webinars, newsletters, and a collection of how-to guides.
2:27 — Michelle’s team is looking at login rates, posting rates, networks per agents, total connections across all networks, and reach to assess program effectiveness. To drive up total connections, they are hoping to have all agents on at least two networking sites (Facebook and LinkedIn).
Q: Do you have any concern for the liability on the content your agents produce?
A: We monitor agent posts online, and if something appears out of compliance, the compliance team reaches out to that agent. The agents are independent contractors, so their contract dictates what they are able to say on social channels.
Q: What has been the reaction from people when asked to incorporate their personal networks into Social Signals?
A: We had to work very closely with legal to make sure we approached this correctly. We also have to coach the agents on how to use the information provided by the program.
Q: How do you integrate all of these components across the business line?
A: The base marketing package has a much greater digital focus than previous iterations. The all-day workshop has a more broad digital marketing focus, as well, beyond social media.
Q: Are you concerned about the large increase in enrollment that you’re expect in January?
A: Our current enrollees are a mix of more- and less-experienced social media users. Knowing that our enrollment rate is going to increase so quickly, we are developing a playbook for all enrollees to use.
Q: You mentioned that agents start to see growth after 100 connections. That seems small, doesn’t it?
A: That number was provided by Hearsay, and they note that it’s across all of your networks. That is the tipping point for when agents start to see the business benefits.
Q: What guidance do you give agents to ensure their paid content is seen by as many as possible?
A: We haven’t addressed this with agents yet, but we do tell them to have an always-on campaign for $10 a day that keeps them on the radar and able to get content viewed by customers.
Q: Can you share any information about whether the program has helped reach under-served markets?
A: We haven’t yet segmented markets in that way. We’ve focused on volume and sales, thus far, but that is our next step.