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3 social media strategies to increase leads, likes and longevity

Remember the days prior to social media? Nor do we. Just about every business – big and small – has a designated social media manager or consultant that’s responsible for tweets, content posts, audience engagement, follows, shares, comments, insight and data reports and messaging.

It’s a big job that goes far beyond those “likes” and shares. To be a social media pro, you’ve got to master some skills.

Be creative: To stand out among your competitors, you need to create a dynamic and persuasive visual content across all your social media platforms.

Images, polls, invitations, posters, graphs, videos and illustrations don’t have to be in every post, but the eye loves visuals, and the more visuals you incorporate into your posts, the better chance you have of being noticed in what’s becoming an increasingly crowded field.

Canva, a user-friendly design tool, is terrific for creating Facebook photos and ads.

Inspire conversation: Interacting and engaging with your audience (think potential clients) is crucial to social media success – and that includes responding to comments in a timely manner.

Whether it’s a simple acknowledgement of thanks to someone who has responded positively to a post, a call to action for someone posing a question or a conversation starter that opens dialogue, you need to know how to foster communication.

That, in turn, encourages your audience to share your content, which increases your post’s longevity. And sharing content grows you audience and results in leads and “likes.”

To post engaging ads, take advantage of Facebook’s Ads Manager, a powerful tool that enables businesses to launch campaigns that reach a large audience.

Post real-time videos: Ask just about any social media pro to name the most influential social media trend of 2019, and the likely answer is live video.

Live video has the kind of human touch that doesn’t exist in text, and social media audiences can’t get enough of them.

Shooting spontaneous short videos on your smartphone and streaming them live on your social media platforms has become easier than ever with recent technological advances, and the content can range from entertaining to informative (or both). Live streams tend to be more personable and authentic than text posts, and studies have shown that social media audiences overwhelmingly prefer live video.


Real Estate Corner:
Homeowners Continue to See Housing as a Good Investment

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65% of
homeowners…

Sixty-five percent of homeowners nationwide view buying a house in their zip code as a “somewhat good” or “very good” financial investment, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Housing Expectations.

As well, existing homeowners are eager to invest more in their homes, says the report, noting that the percentage of homeowners expecting to invest at least $5,000 in their homes over the next one to three years continues to increase.

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Title Industry’s Cyber, Escrow Fraud Preparedness Needs Improvement

A national survey of title agents conducted by the American Land Title Association shows that our industry has farther to go when it comes to formalizing cyber and escrow security plans.

Results of the survey also hint that the threat landscape is becoming increasingly perilous for title agents, consumers and others involved in real estate transactions.

Of the survey’s more than 750 respondents, 63 percent said the number of cybercrime attempts targeting their company increased between 2017 and 2018. Roughly one-third of respondents also observed increases in fraud attempts targeting buyers, sellers and real estate agents over the same period.

Many title agencies have sought to combat the worsening cyber and escrow fraud threat by means of employee awareness.

More than half of respondents said their company reminds employees about the need to remain vigilant on about a weekly basis. More than 25 percent said those employee reminders are made on a monthly basis.

However, more than 20 percent of respondents reported that their company offers no training at all on cybercrime trends or red flags.

More troubling, however, is that despite the apparent increase in fraud attempts, just 62 percent of respondents said their company has a written cybercrime response plan.

Additionally, more than 40 percent of agents were not aware of or have not implemented ALTA’s Rapid Response Plan for Wire Transfer Fraud.

Smaller agencies — those with gross annual income below $1 million — were also somewhat less likely to have formal cyber response plans, wire retrieval plans or training programs than were larger agencies.

Survey results also show that cybercrime insurance coverage among title agents of all sizes is not as prevalent as one might expect given the apparent increase in fraud attempts. More than 27 percent of respondents said their company does not currently have a cybercrime insurance policy.

While most industry participants have made strides when it comes to protecting escrow funds and sensitive information, the survey clearly shows that gaps remain.

The survey also provides an opportunity for all of us to redouble our efforts, particularly when it comes to formalizing cyber response plans.

To help, we’ll be posting a blog series in the coming weeks that will provide simple, actionable tips for improving and formalizing response plans, as well as plans for wire retrieval and staff training.

We’ll also talk about the importance of cyber insurance and provide insight on how to get the right coverages for your business.

In the meantime, check out the growing library of cyber fraud resources on the Alliant National Education page. Alliant National agents can also watch our brand new Texas Continuing Education webinar on information and escrow security.

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Three smart tips that businesses should incorporate into their branding campaigns

No matter the size, mission, strength or success of your business, brand-building strategies are necessary components to building trust, establishing relationships and strengthening awareness.

But like everything else, branding practices are constantly evolving, and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and understand what your future branding strategies should entail.

To help, here are three best-practice branding trends that need to be on your radar:

Be human: Technology is wonderful for increasing brand recognition, and you should embrace it. But don’t forego human interaction.

At a time when trust is precariously fragile, it’s vital for businesses to establish human bonds. Strive to engage with your clients beyond social media platforms and your website.

Be trustworthy problem-solvers, aim for empathy, be an expert in your field, share knowledge and insights and recognize that emotional, face-to-face communication tips the trust scale in your favor.

Be authentic and transparent: When your business opens its curtain and provides public visibility, it shows that you’re authentic and transparent.

And clients and customers rank transparency above just about everything else. In fact, a Sprout Social Report released in 2018 showed that 86 percentof Americans believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.

Additionally, 73 percentof consumers are willing to pay more for products that guarantee total transparency. The numbers don’t lie.

Businesses need to account for the public’s increasing demands for transparency and develop practices and processes that convey honesty and truth.

Soul is the key to content: A compelling narrative that connects with your target audience is key to telling your story, and a story without soul falls down the rabbit hole.

When creating branding content, it’s all too easy to focus solely on promoting a product or service, but falling into that formula potentially robs businesses of cultivating relationships and providing meaningful value. When you tell the story of your brand, aim to be enthusiastic, inspiring and passionate—and don’t be afraid to show some emotion. It’s good for the soul, and it speaks to your human side.


Real Estate Corner
Mortgage rates remain on solid ground for the third week in a row

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While global trade disputes continue to shake up the financial markets, mortgage rates are holding steady.

According to the latest data released by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average dipped to 4.07 percent with an average 0.5 point.

The 15-year fixed-rate average slid to 3.53 percent with an average 0.4 point. Meanwhile, the five-year adjustable rate average inched to 3.66 percent with an average 0.4 point. 

Are you covered

Cyber Insurance: Yes, you absolutely need it.

Cyber insurance is now critical to help protect your business.

Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, clever and complex. Cyber insurance is now critical to help protect your business from major expenses, business loss, and regulatory fines and penalties.

General liability umbrella policies typically do not cover cyber events (Target’s insurance policy only covered 36 percent of its $252 million data breach costs).

This insurance comes in many different variations and costs, so it is important to know what product works best for you, considering and balancing coverage and cost.

Four key elements comprise essential coverage to protect against data breach and loss of customer data:

  • E&O
  • Liability
  • Network Security
  • Privacy

What is most important is that both cyber-crimes and liability are included in your coverage.

The policy may be a standalone, or a rider on to your existing policy. Always buy the most compressive coverage available that you can afford.

Here is why that is so important:

Broad coverage includes both first and third-party coverage. First party only covers your business, while third party will cover the claims against you from customers or clients as well as related damages and court costs.

The below comparisons show why you need both cyber-crimes and cyber liability coverage:

Event Liability Coverage Crime Coverage
Loss of funds (escrow and operational, personal) due to social engineering and electronic fraud or theft No Yes
Fraudulent electronic transfer or divergence of funds No Yes
Employee electronic theft No Yes
Forgery No Yes
Cyber extortion (ransomware) No Yes
Data breach expenses including legal costs, fines or penalties Yes No
Loss of assets and loss of business income Yes No
Recovery of systems and forensics; reputational damages Yes No
Economic damages through network security failure or failure of privacy controls Yes No

Consult with your insurance carrier for specific coverage offerings and cost and weigh the decision that is right for your business and budget. Remember, the broadest form of coverage will best protect you and your business so while it may be more expensive, your business will be better protected against the risks we face in today’s business environment.

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3 online tools to enhance and streamline your social marketing campaigns

We’ve found three tools that make it easier to manage your social media platforms.

A strong social media presence is one way to increase the visibility of your business, expand your reach and generate new leads:

Buffer: Buffer is a relatively simple web application that allows users to schedule social media posts across a variety of social network platforms. Dually mobile and desktop friendly, the app optimizes posts for peak engagement times (it also allows for customization) and best of all, its users receive salient feedback, via analytics, to view social media post performance, improve results and create data-driven reports for clients and managers.

Canva: That old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words rings true with Canva, an intuitive, easy-to-master graphic-design creator that businesses can use to increase website traffic and social media engagement. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics and fonts. You don’t need a background in design to use the tool, and with more than 50,000 templates to choose from, it’s easy to design just about anything,including those all-important info graphics.

Woobox: Engagement and buzz are key when it comes to social media, and with Woobox, an increasingly popular marketing platform, businesses can create contests, giveaways, polls, quizzes, brackets, photo contests and more, all of which encourage your audience to engage. Bonus: It allows businesses to seamlessly integrate several social media platforms while running campaigns, plus it collects and exports useful data that stems from those campaigns, an advantageous perk that all but guarantees robust leads.


Real Estate Corner
Millennials are flocking to smaller cities to buy homes

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According to a recent study published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), expensive home prices, coupled with high demand, are driving today’s youngest homebuyers to smaller cities.

“As long as supply keeps up to meet demand, and prevents costs from rising too high and too rapidly, these identified metro areas are likely to see an uptick in purchases from millennial homebuyers,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR. A robust job market and affordability are two of the main factors that impact home-buying decisions by millennials, notes the report.

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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