Putting Yourself Out There

Leveraging social media to grow your professional presence Tim Rickards

Photo: iStock.com/mattjeacock

Suggesting that actuaries start or enhance their use of social media might appear a bit off. Why would the business world’s analyzers and arbiters of risk expose themselves to the potentially chaotic—and often trite—world of posts, comments and likes?

The simple answer? Because “social” has become an indispensable component in the modern sales journey, allowing you to define and differentiate yourself, reach large audiences, deliver tangible value and nurture relationships with prospective and current clients.

At Hearsay Systems, where I work, we help more than 225,000 advisers, bankers and insurance agents publish content effectively and compliantly to key networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. And my job is to help these customers develop and share the best content based on their business goals.

To convince you of social media’s value and nudge you to get started, I will first outline how social media network algorithms work and the type of content they look for. Then, I’ll take you through five key steps to get started.

The Power of Algorithms

Social networks exist to keep their users “on platform” as long as possible. So when you see interesting stuff in your feed, that means the network’s algorithms that control the content are doing a good job. These complex, data-driven systems analyze user behavior, preferences and interactions to curate and prioritize content—virtually everything you see or experience has been previously digested and prioritized based on data collected about you.

As a person publishing content on a specific social network, your main objective is to show these algorithms that what you publish has value to your connections, and that value appears in the form of likes, comments and shares. The more engagement you generate, the more visible your posts will be to people both within and outside of your personal network.

Content that Engages Centers Around You

Publishing to social media as a professional presents challenges because who you are as a person is equally, if not more, important than what you know. Even though your subject-matter expertise forms your professional standing—and what you have to say is important—your algorithmic value could largely depend on how much you share about yourself as a person.

This doesn’t mean you have to transform yourself into a glittering influencer and reveal your innermost secrets—but our research clearly shows that personal content drives higher engagement. The trick is to strike a balance between personal and professional content so the impact of the former benefits the latter.

Social Media for Actuaries, in Five Steps

To get started on social media, here are five key steps to take.

  1. Decide which network or networks make sense for you. For professional marketing, LinkedIn is a must. Facebook and Instagram are more personal, though if you’re already using them, it might be convenient to start there. Subject-matter experts can use Twitter effectively, but it requires more time and effort than most people can spare.
  2. Commit to a consistent publishing cadence. This will set expectations for your connections as well as the algorithms. The actual frequency is less important; it could be once a month or three times a week. The most important thing is to find a routine that works for your schedule and stick with it.
  3. Provide value for your audience so they respond and boost your content’s algorithmic value. Herein lies the mix of professional and personal. When starting, try for a 50/50 balance. Professional posts can include things you write, industry news and research, and professional achievements. Personal can include your travels, personal achievements and as much of your family or hobbies as feels comfortable.
  4. Become an active participant on the network(s) you select. Logging in regularly will keep you on top of what’s happening and help you display good social etiquette, such as consistently liking, commenting and sharing others’ posts and responding to the same on your content.
  5. Remember to stay persistent and patient. Despite all the stories we see about viral posts, taking advantage of social media to expand your professional presence requires effort over time. Start with a level of effort that fits your capacity, then gradually increase your involvement.

Social media networks offer a wealth of opportunities for actuaries to connect with clients and potential customers. By publishing relevant and engaging content, you can put the algorithms to work and increase your visibility and influence. But, in the end, what matters is that you achieve the impact you desire, whether attracting new clients, deepening relationships with existing ones or simply developing an outlet to share your individual point of view.

Tim Rickards is senior director of content services for Hearsay Systems and is based in Austin, Texas.

Statements of fact and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Society of Actuaries or the respective authors’ employers.

Copyright © 2023 by the Society of Actuaries, Chicago, Illinois.