social-media-for-insuranceIf you’re ready to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, whether for yourself or on behalf of your business, you need to create and optimize a profile first. When setting up your profile, you’ll be asked to create a twitter handle (@username), add a picture, make a header, and add a bio before you can start following others and tweeting.

If you’re completely new to Twitter, here are some tips to get you started.

Choose a good @username (AKA Twitter handle)

Your Twitter username is not only your Twitter URL, but it’s also your identity. Assuming it isn’t taken, try to use your name or business (if you’re tweeting on behalf of your company) instead of something forgettable and confusing (ex: @insuranceagentguy354 or @callmeforinsurancetoday911). You want to find something that will be easily recognizable and easily remembered. For example, our company Twitter handle is @diservices (like our website). You can include upper and lowercase letters, numbers and underscore signs if needed. If you already have (or plan on having) a YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram account, try to use the same handle (username) for each to increase brand awareness.

Add a picture

Whatever you do, don’t leave your picture as a giant egg (the automatic placeholder). As a rule of thumb, most active Twitter users won’t bother following or even pay attention to anyone without a picture.  Unlike LinkedIn, your Twitter picture doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional, business-type photo, especially if it’s a personal account. Feel free to use a photo of you on vacation, with your family, or doing something active. If you plan to interact with clients using this account, just make sure it’s something appropriate for them to see (read: no spring break photos from college). I do suggest, however, that you make your picture your business logo if it’s for a company account—that should be a no brainer.

Add a header

You can add a header image that shows up behind your initial photo, just like with Facebook’s cover photo. You have some wiggle room for creativity here, so don’t be afraid to use a photo of your city, your business, a favorite pastime, a quote, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make your own (just Google Twitter headers and you’ll find a ton of free websites).

Write a bio

You only have 160 characters to tell the Twitterverse what you’re about and what you have to offer.  For our company account, we’ve written, “Disability Insurance Services (DIS) helps insurance brokers protect their clients’ paychecks with innovative disability insurance solutions.” We’re letting users know who we service (brokers), what we help them do (protect their clients’ paychecks) and how (with disability insurance). If the account is for your company, think about your mission statement. If it’s a personal account, think about what you’re using the account for and what type of followers you want to attract. If you hope to use the account for prospecting, make sure you say that you’re an agent and what you offer.

Keep in mind that Twitter is about engaging and sharing information, just as much, if not more so, than prospecting. You don’t want your bio to be overly promotional.

If you’re not tweeting on behalf of your company, but you are an agent hoping to use your personal account for some business purposes, you might want to consider writing something like, “Agent for @company’sTwitterHandle.” Just make sure you have permission from your company and that you don’t ever Tweet anything that could make your company look bad.

Remember

You can always go back and edit anything and everything on your profile, so if it doesn’t seem perfect, there’s no need to stress.

Also, don’t forget that everything you do on Twitter can be seen, including tweets that you’ve favorited, retweeted and replied to. I’ll go into more specifics about what that all means next week, but in the meantime, just know that nothing on the Internet is private!

**Please be advised that you should always check with FINRA first for compliance issues when using social media for business purposes.

Next Friday I’ll discuss tweeting, retweeting, favoriting, following users and getting followers organically.