The senior market is growing in number and in the use of social media. Sixty-two percent of Americans 65 and older use Facebook, according to a Pew Research study. As an agent, what you post and how you connect with seniors through social media matters. CMS’ guidelines for social media have greatly changed for 2019. (For one, disclaimers are no longer needed on generic posts.) Below, we explain the Medicare Marketing Guidelines’ social media rules found in Sections 30.8 and 70.3 and highlight the changes you need to know.
Can Medicare Brokers Contact Individuals on Social Media?
Brokers cannot make direct unsolicited contact with individuals who interact with their social media pages. For example, if an individual likes your posts or follows your page, this does not grant you permission to make unsolicited contact.
Look at it this way: In real life, you cannot go door-to-door, approach potential clients in common areas, or make unsolicited phone calls (MCMG, Section 40.2). The same principle exists within digital communication as well. However, if an individual on your page leaves a comment or sends you a private message looking for more information, you may ask for contact information to send a Scope of Appointment form.
What Are the Medicare Marketing Social Media Guidelines for Brokers?
Keep It Generic
If you want to post about your business on social media, generic content will give you the most flexibility. Generic content stays away from naming specific products (e.g. Golden Medicare Advantage Plan) and giving plan details (e.g. plan benefits and premiums).
If a post, or materials attached to a post, meets CMS’ definition of “marketing,” CMS and the plan sponsors/carriers you represent must approve it. A post would meet CMS’ definition if it is a retention-based marketing tactic, meaning the content pushes a specific brand or plan toward enrollees.
What Can Brokers Post on Their Social Media Pages?
Here is what you can and cannot post on insurance social media pages where the intent is to inform and interact with potential and current Medicare enrollees.
- Brokers can post generic business and product information. Generic information includes your business contact details, the types of products you sell (e.g. Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, Medicare Supplements, etc.), and posts that don’t provide specific details about Medicare plans.
Here’s an example of how a generic post should be written to comply with the Medicare Marketing Guidelines’ social media requirements.
- Brokers can respond to social media statements but not beyond the scope of comment. If you want to give an individual more information, you can respond by providing a phone number where they can contact you.
- Brokers can post generic, self-created marketing materials without CMS approval. Generic materials can advertise the services you offer as an agent. You don’t need prior CMS or carrier approval to share such materials on your social media sites as long as you don’t include any plan-specific details or carrier brand names and logos. However, materials must still meet CMS guidelines and, in some instances, you may need to submit them to your carrier’s compliance department for review. For example, if your materials will include your phone number, you must clearly indicate that calling the phone number will direct an individual to a licensed insurance agent or broker.
- Brokers can post carrier marketing materials that are CMS approved. It’s best to use carrier-provided materials that have already gone through CMS review. You can access these materials through your carrier portal. If you want to post content that will display carrier branding and specific details, such as benefits, premiums, and plan name on materials, you will need permission from carriers to use their logo, and the marketing pieces must be CMS approved.
- Brokers cannot post specific details for products offered in the next contract year before October 1. This applies to any content that can be shared through social media or other mediums.
What Types of Marketing Materials Can Brokers Post on Social Media?
Brokers can post any type of marketing material on social media as along as it meets CMS guidelines. Disclaimers are not required on generic social media posts, but the material you’re sharing may require a disclaimer. Below are types of marketing materials you can share on your insurance social media sites.
- Brochures, fliers, infographics, etc. Electronic marketing materials you can share on social media can come from your field marketing organization (FMO) or carrier, yourself, or a third-party.
- Third-party materials can be something such as an infographic from an article to educate your followers about healthcare information. You can save an infographic from an article and upload it to your social media post. If you do this, be sure to include the link for the third-party article that has the infographic in your post to credit the original source. Below is an example of a post with a third-party infographic you can share on your social media pages.
- Ads or invitations to sales events. Any material that advertises a sales event must include this disclaimer: “For accommodations of persons with special needs at meetings call <insert phone and TTY number>.” (MCMG, Appendix 2, No. 6)
Can Brokers Repurpose a Client’s Social Media Comment?
Brokers can repurpose client comments from social media, but there are a couple of stipulations to follow.
Consider these two scenarios:
Scenario No. 1 – “I love my agent!”
A client writes a glowing review about you on your Facebook page. Before repurposing this statement to use in your advertising materials, you must have a signed release from the client who wrote the post.
Scenario No. 2 – “My agent is great! My Humana plan is perfect for me.”
If the comment is promoting a carrier’s product, treat it as a testimonial or product endorsement and follow CMS’ product endorsement rules found in MCMG, Section 30.8. Also, a client’s comment is not considered a testimonial until you repurpose it.
A client writes a Facebook post praising you, but they also mention a specific carrier or plan type (e.g. Humana, Silver Sneakers, etc.). If plan-specific details are mentioned, the testimonial would have to follow these guidelines:
- The individual must be a current enrollee of the carrier’s plan being mentioned.
- The individual must identify the carrier and/or product by name.
- The carrier must be able to substantiate any claims made in the post.
Other Options to Having a Testimonial on Your Social Media Pages
Repurposing a client’s social media comment that meets the Medicare Marketing Guidelines’ social media rules isn’t the only way to increase engagement on your social media pages. Here are some alternative options:
- Use existing testimonials from your brokerage or field marketing organization (FMO). Your brokerage or FMO may already have testimonial videos or materials that you can post on your page to help boost your social media marketing for insurance agents.
- Encourage clients to leave a review. Websites, such as Facebook, have review features that allow individuals to rate and recommend your service.
- Ask other professionals to give you a recommendation. LinkedIn is a great platform for getting recommendations from other professionals and colleagues. This can help build your credibility and get more referrals.
Where Can I Get Help With Medicare Insurance Social Media Marketing?
Social media for insurance agents and brokers who sell Medicare doesn’t have to be difficult. Remember, generic content is the “rule of thumb” when posting on social media to make things simple. But if you choose to post specific plan information and need more guidance, or you’re unsure about what you can post on your page, Excelsior is here to help you compliantly use the Medicare Marketing Guidelines social media practices to your advantage. Our senior market team is here for you, whether you’re using social media or face-to-face, community-based marketing. Let Excelsior help you engage the senior market with proven marketing solutions and access to innovative technology that can increase your client base and income.