3 Dec 2020
Top 10 Netiquette Guidelines for Agents and Brokers
Estimated read time: 3 minutes, 5 seconds
Without question, we’re all communicating more online these days. Although it varies by country, internet broadband usage has risen 40-100% since the pandemic began! While the internet is a very useful communication tool, it carries some risk. In fact, the more often we use it, the more likely we are to blunder. That’s why it’s important to always keep “netiquette”—that is, internet etiquette—in mind before you hit “send” or “post.”
Once something exists in cyberspace, it may live on indefinitely. Even items that you’ve deleted may still exist in some form, where they can be shared and be traced back to you. So, it’s best to assume that there is no real privacy online.
As a financial services professional, it’s particularly important to communicate with care when online—to conduct yourself in a way that reflects well on you and those you represent. With that in mind, we invite you to review our top 10 netiquette guidelines. Yes, it’s all common sense…but it’s also easy to forget in the heat of a busy day.
- Identify Yourself Clearly
Don’t assume people remember you or know who you are—always provide your name, title and affiliated agency. Operating transparently builds credibility and elevates online exposure. And of course, be sure to provide contact information, so people can reach you.
- Maintain a Professional Tone
While it can be tempting to use a casual tone online, keep your business communications formal. In emails, begin with a salutation (“Hello, George!”) and end with your name and signature block. When posting on social media, avoid slang, swearing and posting personal views on business-related pages.
- Pay Attention to Your Grammar
Nothing erodes your professional image faster than sloppy spelling and grammar. Instead of posting directly online, spur of the moment, first create your post in a word processing program so you can use its spell check and grammar check features. Always proofread posts and emails closely before you go live—even (and especially) when you’re in a hurry.
- Review Your Content for Clarity
Unfortunately, written communications are easy to misinterpret, and unlike live conversations, you don’t have a chance to set the record straight in real time. Try reading your content aloud before you send it and ask yourself: could the meaning be misconstrued? Could the tone come off as critical or sarcastic? Always err on the side of caution.
- Avoid Insurance Jargon
If you’re emailing a long-term client, you have a good sense of their insurance knowledge, so you can calibrate your message to their level of understanding. However, when talking to a new or unknown audience, be careful to explain insurance terms or processes. Don’t assume consumers know what you know.
- Keep It Brief
Your readers’ time is valuable—and their attention span is short. According to one Microsoft study, the average digital user’s attention span is just eight seconds long. Instead of leading up to it, get to the point quickly, and use subject lines and headlines to reinforce your primary message.
- Keep it Positive
While it’s appropriate to point out the advantages of your products, don’t callout specific competitors online. That level of information may best be saved for a meeting or phone call—and, even then, should be handled with care. Similarly, avoid confrontational conversations on social media platforms.
- Respond Promptly
As you know, responsiveness is a prized trait in the financial services sector. When you receive an email or social media inquiry, answer quickly—even if only to respond that you’re researching the question and will get back with an informed answer as quickly as possible.
- Respect Others’ Intellectual Property
Just because you see something online, that doesn’t give you the right to make it your own. Say you read a great article on choosing life or health insurance on a public website. Should you choose to share it, preface your post with a note of your own, crediting the author—if it’s not already abundantly clear—and explaining why it’s a worthwhile read.
- Feel Free to Share Pan-American Life’s Posts
Chances are, you’re always looking for interesting content to share on your social media accounts. In that light, you are more than welcome to like and share Pan-American Life’s public posts. This is an easy way to share sound product and company information that’s designed for this purpose and has already been approved for public use.
Without question, the internet is one of the most useful communication tools in an agent’s toolbox, now more than ever. By all means, take advantage of thoughtful email campaigns and social media posts to connect with current and prospective clients. Just be sure to do so with skill, planning, and care. When it comes to online communications, a little netiquette goes a long way.