Top social media users in the adviser community

  • August 08 2018, 3:07am EDT
Advisers are showing growing involvement in the social media world. From sharing informative articles, retweeting colleagues, making short thought-provoking videos, to even funny music videos, brokers are attempting to grab the attention of their clients and followers by any means necessary.

To highlight some of the top users in the insurance industry, Employee Benefit Adviser created a list of the top advisers, brokers and insurance experts who are utilizing social media and how they are reaching their audience.

Adam Berkowitz

Adam Berkowitz, founder and president of HR and benefits firm SimparaHR, is utilizing LinkedIn to focus on three key areas of business growth. These areas include:

Influence: establish the brand as an authority in the insurance industry so that prospects are predisposed to trust the firm.

Building Relationships: Identifying, finding, and reaching out to ideal prospect types to systematically build earnest relationships and develop rapport

Lead Generation: Leverage authority status and nurtured relationships to build more sales appointments and get more clients

"This is a highly developed and systematized process that ties in with overall brand message and image," Berkowitz says. "LinkedIn is powerful because it lets us target specific industries, company sizes and personnel within a business. From there, we can pull databases from connections to help track activity."

Berkowitz does daily content posting, moderation and engagement for the public feed and in private groups personally. This includes local business news and industry headlines such as the St. Louis Dispatch names 150 area employers as top workplaces for 2018 or Top 5 low cost benefits.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler, president of Butler Benefits & Consulting, says he believes social media is a great tool to educate clients and prospects, not just on the challenges and problems in the dysfunctional healthcare system, but also about repeatable solutions to those problems and challenges.

"My hope is that we can influence employers and other consultants to challenge the healthcare status quo and try a different approach," Butler says. "We all know healthcare is expensive, but many don’t know just how badly we are being taken advantage of by the healthcare system and our insurance carriers."

Butler adds that he also uses social media to build his own personal network of experts. "Collaboration is essential in our industry right now, and it’s very helpful having a host of colleagues we can talk to and share ideas and strategies," he says.

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Chris Yarn aka Frank MicDroppa

Chris Yarn, CEO of Walk On Clinic, is probably informing his clients in the most unique way any broker could ever think of. Rather than holding webinars or writing informative articles to educate his followers, Yarn created a new persona known as Frank MicDroppa to sing parody music videos tailored to the health insurance community.

Acting as a version of Frank Sinatra, MicDroppa uses "Rat Pack" inspired tunes with insurance inspired lyrics to educate viewers on the complexities of healthcare. From educating clients on the benefits of self-funding, to giving his take on the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase partnership, Yarn is quickly gaining popularity amongst the broker community; many of whom are eager to be a part of his next music video.

Robson Baker

Robson Baker, employee benefits and HR adviser at Clarus Benefits Groups, says he often feels like social media is just a way to get his thoughts and ideas out into the world as fast as he can.

"I have a LinkedIn strategy that effectively connects 30-50 people a day, 5 days a week," Baker says. "They are decision makers and leaders in my market and I use LinkedIn to message and promote lunch and learns I present at Clarus Events as well as focus on other events in the community."

Baker recently designed a few cartoons that share the story behind his message. These cartoons range from clients desperate to escape the large insurance market's premium increases to the supply chain concern within hospitals.

Carl Schuessler

Carl Schuessler, managing principal at Mitigate Partners, spends much of his time on the road speaking at health insurance conferences such as the National Association of Health Underwriters' Annual Convention and the World Health Care Congress to inform brokers on the key factors of high healthcare cost.

Schuessler has steadily begun to make his way on to social media forums, primarily on LinkedIn to share informative articles he finds as well as some that he writes himself. He has also made his way on to several blogs with his catchy phrases like the "Legal Drug Carterls" and his trusty "Schuessler Stick."

"My strategy for using social media includes publishing thought provoking content that makes people scratch their heads, disrupting the status quo to create change throughout our archaic healthcare system, instigating and being a catalyst for massive change to save U.S. healthcare, and positioning myself as a thought leader and a leader in the Benefit Adviser Community as well as the CFO and HR community," Schuessler says."

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Derek Winn

Derek Winn, employee benefits consultant at The Business Benefits Group, says he admittedly made it a goal to become active in social media earlier in 2018, and he is still working on getting there.

"I personally don’t see myself as being 'at that level' but seeing that other advisers consider me to be there, it helped me feel more confident about it," Winn says.

Comparing social media to working out, Winn says many people, not just brokers in the benefits market, tend to quit social media too quickly if they are not seeing the results they want.

"What it really comes down to is how well you interact with the community, which admittedly is tough for busy people to do – and is a horrible excuse," he says. "I’ve also worked to recruit those who are not visibly active to engage content, and I work to do the same in return."

Gary Becker

Gary Becker, CEO at prescription drug cost management firm ScriptSourcing, says he is a big advocate of sharing and listening to empower the broker community. "I post a constant stream of content and consistently ask for feedback," Becker says. "This is how we influence one another and help the entire industry grow."

Becker adds that he loves to learn from his colleagues and share insights with over 6,700 connections that would take him a lifetime to meet in person.

"Employer challenges are at the forefront of my social stories in this RX culture," he says. "I am upfront about the outrageous prescription drug costs that contribute to wasteful spending in our industry and I believe the best insights and ideas come from the candid dialogue in the comments of a post."

Cristy Gupton

Cristy Gupton, founder and president of Custom Benefits Solutions, started her career as a healthcare provider. As a registered dietitian, she worked with people who had a variety of needs related to how their eating behaviors were complicating already dire chronic disease states.

Gupton eventually seized an opportunity to become an employee benefits consultant. As a recent new addition to the Health Rosetta Institute, she has embraced all that it stands for and is now the benefit adviser lead of the Opioid Component Committee.

In that leading role, she explores new initiatives and insights into the opioid crisis especially as it affects the employer community. Helping Health Rosetta advisers across the nation with actionable items and strategic benefits design that simultaneously reduces both supply and demand for opioids is the main goal.

“We will act on the leading edge of innovative plan design, innovative addiction treatment and recovery methods and partner with the nation’s experts in this area to improve all of employee healthcare, but employee behavioral health will certainly see the positive side effects of that effort,” Gupton says.

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Bret Brummitt

Bret Brummitt, senior consultant at AG Insurance Agencies, says he has been using social media, predominantly LinkedIn and Twitter, for the purposes of client education, industry conversations and collaborating with others on a journey to enrich the lives of others—primarily with the employees and the dependents of his clients in mind.

"The growth in conversation and learning how to engage on these platforms has taken time, as I like most are not comfortable just making parting shots or look at me type posts," Brummitt says. "I believe we all want to give high value and impactful content, but it’s just not easy to understand each platform and how to communicate effectively until living with it for a few months."

Brummitt has started hosting a monthly web chat using Zoom called Dark Social. "We take posts, ideas or online articles and discuss the content as well as areas we can grow as advisers in the benefits space," he says. "Most of the content has been around health plans but there is a definite community spin to the conversations as all the participants so far have wanted to make a local impact and not strictly on social media."

There have been five sessions so far in 2018 and as Brummitt plays with the format and grows the conversation as well as list of participants, each session takes a new direction. "It has been fun to take my LinkedIn community and make it a little more personal," he says.

Brummitt also writes for his agency's blog and has had the pleasure to be a contributor to some NAHU publications as well as the Q4Intellegence blog. "I do use social media to help promote those writings as I do focus on ideas and tidbits that can be seen as impactful, thought provoking or uplifting messages of hope," he adds.

Matthew White

Matthew White, employee benefits consultant at AHT Insurance, says his approach to social media is one of many that can be successful. "I'm flattered that folks have chosen to follow, but if I’m honest, followers was never the goal," White says. "It was to share ideas in a community of folks that wanted to do the same."

Initially, White just wanted to understand his prospects better, and then also maybe some thought leaders in the benefits space. "I was committed to having the best product out there for myself, and also because I care about what’s delivered to clients," he says. "Thus I began seeking out information via social media."

In White's case, Linkedin seemed to have the most for his purposes. "There are varying vantage points on this," he explains. "Many will say put out as much as one can in as many places as one can. While this is great, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do so. I wanted to become really good at one thing. I chose Linkedin after having done podcasts, blogs, Facebook, tried Twitter and some other platforms."

White's advice to those trying to expand their social media reach is to have something to say. "There are tons of ‘fluff’ articles out there for anyone looking that cover ‘engagement’ or ‘millennials’ or whatever," he says. "Have the courage to say something that is well researched, and elicits response. Even if it's a disagreement."

Eric Silverman

Eric Silverman, founder of Voluntary Disruption, has taken to almost every social media platform that exists to date. From Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter, to LinkedIn and even Snapchat; Silverman utilizes all mediums equally to ensure that as many people see him as humanly possible.

"I’ve done a lot of studying on the best ways to build a brand, and it really helps when people don’t see you as always selling," Silverman says. "I may go a few days in a row where I only post about the national day. I also follow the 5-to-1 method of social posting: Each time I post something self-serving, I make a point to post five back-to-back posts about other benefits rock stars."

These could be shout-outs to colleagues or partners who wrote an informative article or were recognized nationally, or maybe he will link to a article that may benefit others. After five of these posts, Silverman will throw in something about what he can do for his clients in the form of a case study or an update about an industry conference he has spoken at.

"This approach starts to build your social credibility and promote your brand in a very different, non-salesy manner," he explains. "Doing this, I no longer need to market my business. I have no budget for cold calling or sending random LinkedIn messages to prospects. I just continue to post on social media—that’s it, and I’m getting introduced to people left and right and have never been busier."

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John Sbrocco

As a life-long learner, John Sbrocco, healthcare consultant at Questige, says he is fascinated by the power of social media and its endless possibilities.

"My philosophy on social media is to constantly give for the greater good of our industry," Sbrocco says. "I share breaking updates, industry insights, the strategies that are working for my clients and ideas for professional development."

As a student of the craft; always reading, collaborating with his Mastermind Partners and seeking expertise from marketing, sales and personal branding strategists, Sbrocco says he stays updated on social trends, but applies the strategies that feel authentic for his style.

"I don’t post anything that doesn’t look or sound like me," he says. "If it’s on my social platforms, you know it’s content that I find interesting, relevant and valuable to my network."

Sbrocco says social media should be fun and conversational. By making off the cuff videos to share what’s on his mind, he is unafraid to disturb the peace. "I’m all about open dialogue to challenge, and yes, you know I’m going to say it, the status quo," he adds.

Susan Combs

For her social media, Susan Combs, president of Combs & Company, says she has an entire content calendar for each month. She also had a social media guru tell her that she should look at social media in thirds: A third where she is educating, a third where she recognizes someone else and a third where she shows her personal side.

"We are on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter to reach our people," Combs says. "The three set themes we have are: #MentorMonday, #WonderWomanWednesday and #FunFactFriday or #FeatureFriday."

Feature Friday either features a client or a charity Combs partners with. As for the personal side, she works out a lot and will post things from her exercises or places she goes.

"For example, after living in New York City for over 17 years I went to the top of the Empire State Building for the first time and shared pics from that," she says. "We also do a video series called “Insurance 101” that are quick videos that define insurance terms."

Kevin Trokey

While not a benefit adviser himself, Kevin Trokey, founding partner and coach at Q4intelligence, works with brokers on a regular basis to improve their relationship with clients. Trokey says the simple answer is that he shows up consistently and speaks as openly and honestly as he can on social media.

"I say what I feel needs to be said, but do my best to be respectful and fair along the way," Trokey says. "I believe my LinkedIn headline describes my goal, 'Insurance industry antagonist and champion all wrapped in one.'"

Trokey adds that this is the single greatest era of transformational change the insurance industry has ever experienced and he sees social media in general, LinkedIn specifically, as the greatest platform of change in business today.

"I feel we all have a responsibility to participate and help shape that transformation which means being active participants in the discussion. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t," he says. "Regardless, we all grow from the interactions."

Social media is a place to challenge traditional thinking but to also allow for thinking to be challenged. "It’s not a place to be safe, but it’s also not a place to be an ass," he adds. "I love it when there is a healthy tension in the conversation. I know that leads us to re-evaluate what we think we know and to gain a new perspective. It’s only when we find a new perspective that most of us are driven to make a change. Change that isn’t the result of debate and introspection is rarely the right change."

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Andy Neary

As a former professional baseball player, Andy Neary, healthcare strategist for The Olson Group, loves to translate his old baseball jargon into his social media posts. Whether it is sharing an article on LinkedIn or presenting a webinar, Neary will find some way to incorporate batters, pitching and running the bases into his presentation.

People can find Neary on LinkedIn promoting ways to reduce costs around musculoskeletal procedures or on Youtube explaining how to reduce overall healthcare cost in under a minute among other cost reducing strategies.

David Contorno

David Contorno, founder of E Powered Benefits, is likely the most outspoken man on healthcare cost in the United States. Contorno can be seen all across the country at almost every health insurance related conference sharing his views, theories and solutions on how to drive down cost from prescription drugs all the way to protecting claims data through blockchain security.

He is no stranger to social media either. Contorno is vocal on both Twitter and LinkedIn, and has also been featured in several of Jeff Bernhard's Youtube series, Friends with Benefits.

"The most viewed posts of mine are not the well planned, well crafted or well thought out posts," Contorno says. "They are the 'brain dump' ideas that usually are generated from a real world interaction with a client, carrier etc."

Contorno adds that the key is to challenge status quo thinking with common sense, logic and facts. "Those posts get the most attention," he says. "Also, I embrace contrary opinions perhaps more than supporting opinions and I encourage people to be respectful, but to not be afraid to speak up."

Tanya Boyd

Tanya Boyd, president of Tanya Boyd & Associates, says she started out using Facebook just for fun. She then realized a friend in another state was less active and after asking why she said she really liked Twitter and gave Boyd a five minute crash course.

"I was fascinated by Twitter and the genius behind it," Boyd says. My followers quickly grew – organically, and I simply started sharing 'life' and some insurance stuff, but always a mixture of both."

Sharing stories that may inspire others, provided a laugh, or gave her followers valuable information they could use or share. Boyd became more active on LinkedIn and due to her presence in the social media broker and insurance industry world, she had made countless connections who could even be her competitors.

"I have not let that fear keep me from helping, sharing, and educating others," she says. "I actually had a broker in another state that I met at an association conference ask me who did my social media and could she have their info. I told her I was for hire."

Boyd is using videos more to speak to her clients and audiences because she receives so many emails, and reading tends to take too much time.