Rob Knop

Rob Knop says he spent a lot of his early career trying to find ways to stay on the creative side of business.

I believe to be successful in social media, your social media objectives need to be the same as your business objectives.

With a degree in Fine Arts, he enjoyed doing creative work at an ad agency, a small startup, and as the sole in-house creative at Countrywide. But at each company, Rob says he managed to get pulled over to the business and sales side.

Noticing the pattern, he says, “I thought maybe I should give this business and marketing thing a shot.”

After running Countrywide’s digital channels for three years, Rob moved to the Capital Group to focus on building a larger digital communications footprint focused on increasing reach and utilizing modern platforms, which included leading the launch of social media at the organization. Two years ago, he joined Pacific Life, and currently leads integrated marketing, including strategy, analytics, lead generation, customer experience, and all the digital channels — including social media.

“In the four years I’ve been doing social media in regulated industries, companies have come a long way.”

Rob explains that in the early stages of social media there was apprehension around doing anything more than having a presence.

“Some companies would have a Facebook page, for example, but they didn’t interact or allow comments. They were basically ‘antisocial’ social media sites. Now, you’ve seen an evolution where companies are getting more comfortable with having conversations in this forum.”

At Pacific Life, Rob’s team focuses on how to use social media to meet business objectives.

I feel what’s innovative now in social selling is going to be the norm in a year or two.

He says that’s one lesson he takes from his own personal use of social media.

“For example, I tweet cute and funny things my six-year-olds say and do. And Twitter gives you that great instant validation when you get a bunch of retweets or favorites,” Rob says.

“As a result, it’s easy to get caught up in the engagement numbers, but that’s not my objective. My objective for my Twitter account is to capture moments of my sons’ lives, so I don’t forget. Time goes by so fast, and I want to write down things they say and do so that when they’re 15 or 20 years old I can go back and remember that stuff.”

“The same is true for business social media accounts — you can’t chase the engagement numbers. I believe to be successful in social media, your social media objectives need to be the same as your business objectives in order to be able to show true ROI to the business.”

One way they’re meeting business objectives at Pacific Life is through social selling.

He says their main goal is to enable their sales force to communicate via social just like they would via email and phone calls. His small team spends a lot of time in the field, teaching sales representatives and financial professionals how to use social media — particularly LinkedIn — to grow their business.

They teach reps to add value for their clients through building relationships and sharing content. Rob’s team also shares educational content, charts, infographics and other value-add content, and teaches advisors how to bring what they’re doing offline to the social space.

He says, “I feel what’s innovative now in social selling is going to be the norm in a year or two.”

But earning adoption for social selling comes with unique challenges.

For one thing, Rob says he has to work to build trust.

“Our sales force is fantastic. I’ve been in insurance for two years, and when we talk about our social selling program, I’m pitching to folks who have been selling insurance for 20 to 30 years and hitting their goals every year,” he explains.

“From their perspective, you have this guy coming in — who has never sold insurance before — asking you to change the way you do things to be successful long-term. As you would expect, that’s met with a degree of skepticism.”

To get the company onboard with social selling, Rob feels it’s important to tailor the message to the audience whether it’s the C-suite, sales reps, or compliance. He works one-on-one with people and strives to understand how he can help them meet their goals.

In the end, he says it’s all about helping.

“A friend of mine in sales likes to say ‘Rising waters lift all boats,'” Rob explains, “… and I believe that. If we help our clients succeed, it’s going to help us in the long run.”

“It’s about establishing those relationships, then building and strengthening them. You’re not trying to sell things, you’re trying to add as much value as possible.”

Find Rob on LinkedIn and ask him what he likes about living in Orange County. Rob first joined SocialMedia.org with Capital Group in 2012. Then, he brought us along when he moved to Pacific Life in 2014.


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