5 lessons from New York Life’s social media strategy

At nearly 170 years old, the company has successfully stepped into online engagement, primarily by staying true to its brand and communicating its well-regarded identity.

You don’t have to manage a big, “sexy” consumer brand to see successful results on social media.

People in the professional service industry are embracing social media as part of their integrated marketing and communications strategy and driving successful results, too.

Need proof? Just look at life insurance brand, New York Life. The 169-year-old company has received accolades from digital media publications such as Digiday and Social Media Today for its genuine approach to social media.

Instead of latching on to every buzzworthy social media trend and exploiting popular events to feed real-time marketing stunts, the company has remained true to its brand while generating interest in its services and driving engagement online.

In the recent interview with Digiday, Dipayan Gupta, head of social media marketing and strategy at New York Life, attributed much of the company’s success to its content strategy. Instead of treating social media channels like an advertising platform, it has positioned itself as a trusted advisor by taking sales out of the equation and talking about what really matters most to its target audience—families and their future.

Here are a few key lessons you can take away from the New York Life social media strategy to help you develop a successful social media strategy for your small business:

Create compelling content that differentiates your brand from competitors.

Your company isn’t like other businesses on social media, and you shouldn’t strive to be like them either. In order to stand out in a sea of 100 companies just like yours, you must identify what makes you different and create a content strategy centering on your unique value proposition.

Tell stories that differentiate your brand from competitors in a genuinely helpful, non-salesy way. Remember, actions speak louder than words, so focus on showcasing your expertise and commitment to customers through compelling content that is relevant to your audience.

Use relevant content in the customer acquisition process.

Though driving sales should not be your first priority on social media, you can use the content you create for social media channels for other forms of communication that are better suited for sales, such as email.

Use relevant content to drive prospects to your blog so they can get to know your company better. Have them read what previous clients have to say about working with you. Provide new clients with helpful tips and information they can use to make important decisions. The ways you can use the content you create is endless.

Encourage experience sharing and amplify positive word-of-mouth.

For small businesses, referrals can be more valuable than gold. Every satisfied customer becomes a lead for a new customer. With the rise of social media, word-of-mouth has the ability to extend far beyond a customer’s inner circle. Everyone has a network and the ability to be influential.

How are you generating positive word-of-mouth online? More important, how are you amplifying positive endorsements of your brand? Encourage your customers to share their experience on social media. If someone leaves a positive review, reach out to see whether they would be interested in sharing their story on your blog.

Social media can be used to build brand loyalty and stay top of mind with customers.

Social media isn’t all about sales; it’s about building (and maintaining) relationships with prospects, partners, and clients. Social media is a great tool for building brand loyalty and staying top of mind with your target audience.

Find ways to add value to the relationships you have. Let contacts in your database know about the exciting things you’re doing as a company on social media. Give them special access to inside tips and advice, and update them about contests and promotions you’re running.

If you do it correctly, you’ll stay top of mind with customers and make them feel like a valued partner.

Empower employees to serve as brand advocates online.

Whenever you publish a new blog post or launch a social media campaign, encourage your most powerful brand ambassadors (your employees) to share the news with their networks, too. Train your employees and sales personnel on how to use social media to build relationships with key decision makers and generate new leads.

Within six months of launching an employee advocacy program for one of our financial services clients, the company was able to increase blog traffic by 74 percent, double its total number of page views, and substantially increase the number of unique visitors to its blog.

The people at companies such as New York Life understand that social media engagement is more than setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account and frequently sharing updates. Social media is about using the purpose of your brand to build relationships with consumers in such a way that they develop a natural affinity for your brand.

Before you jump on the bandwagon and spiral into social media oblivion, identify what your purpose is and create a cohesive social media strategy that aligns with your brand and supports your overarching business goals.

Courtney Howell is an account assistant with Identity. A version of this article first appeared on Identity PR.

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