I work for an insurance company. I’m fairly new to this social media world, but have fallen madly in love with it. Pairing these two pieces of my life has been an inevitability really, and I finally have compiled some illustrative examples of why an insurance company would adopt social media marketing activities.
I’m not big on over-hyped lead-ins either, so I’ll cut right to it.
1. Use Twitter.
Twitter can help a company create an easily accessible forum for gauging customer satisfaction and brand advocacy (or lack of). It can help a company establish a voice beyond traditional commercials and corporate & local sponsorships. It can also provide a beautiful distribution tool for promoting other web-wide activities your company is pushing. And wouldn’t it be great to see tweets like “@biginsurance found a way to give me better coverage for less money! Sweet!” start popping up in your replies tab?
Lots of companies with more tangible products can easily guage product satisfaction through online customer reviews at BestBuy.com or Amazon.com, but there is hardly anywhere for customers to give feedback for insurance and financial products. As Twitter becomes more popular and mainstream to web users, its mass appeal will start to take shape. It will be necessary though, for a company pumping insurance related messages to remain inventive and interesting in order to maintain its fickle followers.
2. Start Blogging
Insurance companies have multitudes of information they could be delivering. Not just press releases, but worthwhile stories like “Watch our Rates to Drop in 6 States Overnight”, “Uh-oh, I Just Got Rear-Ended, Now What?”, “We’re Cracking Down on Fraud, Read What Stupid People Got Caught Doing”, and all of the other information companies know but don’t share openly.
I think a customer receiving a new bill, that’s more expensive then the last deserves to know why. Why not add a link to a post that explains the whys. Customers have a tendency to act rationally when they understand.
Most companies are calling for increased amounts of transparency to potential and current customers. Why not create a easy to access touch point that your company is able to internally moderate. Don’t be afraid to call out some of the bad with the good, it’s what can make your company feel more personal. It’s also a great place to showcase pictures that accompany your stories, which can also give your brand personality.
3. Dive Head First Into Facebook and MySpace
This doesn’t necessarily mean create a profile for your company and starting friending everyone (and their mother). It does mean that you should allow customers to show pride with “bumper stickers” and other applications, which could elicit conversation from potential customers. “I didn’t know you had that insurance, I’ve been looking around but always heard they’re really expensive, what do you think?”. A company could also tie in a option for people getting a quote on-line to share their experience in their public news feed. The share could include their rate, what they thought of their agent, whether or not they will buy, etc.
As the web continues to evolve the development of a single user profile that interacts with most any site, a users profile will likely contain more information about the products and services individuals use. These profiles will allow open communication lines for discussions around satisfaction and experiences, and intricate new tools are being developed to measure brand advocacy throughout the entire medium. This exposure and openness means that making and keeping customers happy is even more crucial to a companies success.
4. Use Social Media Internally
These tools, used internally, can help foster innovation, creativity, and aide problem solving. Most of the dollars associated with the consideration for implanting social media will be concerning the outward focus at the larger consumer base. I think the low hanging fruit of the social media tree is internal implementation.
In a company with more than 10,000 employees, I know there are many more resources available that are hidden in layers of unknown departments. Give me a place where I can ask “What other areas of the company have partnerships with XYZ Company”, or “Are there any good internally approved applications for Client Management and Marketing Expense tracking?”, “Anyone know how competitive we are in Southern Colorado?” and see much more productive I can be.
5. Establish Expertise
When you become an expert managing these tools, you can utilize this skill set as a valuable benefit to attract B2B relationships, or strengthen current relationships. As you attract new relationships, find a way to offer other enterprise products. Financial institutions have always found ways to work together for mutual benefit, and expertise in this area for financial product lines could be a deal breaker.
Every company seems to be offering more and more specialties in important business areas. Its not likely that you could take two, seemingly identical companies and not find some piece of each that could benefit the other. Making relationships like this work, through all of the legal challenges, can bring enumerable opportunities for your to connect your business with others.
6. Allow, and Encourage, User Created Content
Develop a Facebook and MySpace extensions that allow for custom user created content, which can excercise a focus on whatever your corporate strategy may be; savings, citizenship, being financial unprepared, etc. Let users create jingles, ads, commercials… everything. And let them share it. Offer competitions and challenges to stimulate participation, or offer incentives to policyholders who create the content.
As the content is created, hype it. Have the content fit with web searches for your company, push it heavily with your own media accounts (Twitter, Blog, etc.), and make it easy for viral spread across the web. To do all of this, you might have to loosen your slacks a little around your branding guidelines and legal guidelines, but it can be well worth it.
7. Give Your Brand a Face
Allow service and claims reps to utilize these tools. Let them setup accounts that show them professionally. As insurance and other service industries continue to push direct relationships with their customers, they face the risk of losing the “buddy-buddy” factor. Just because newer demographics have more digital communication preferences, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to have a face to put with our problem.
Social media is perfect tool to strengthen relationships with a customer who’s channel preferences have become increasingly digital. Personally, I’ve had a claim outstanding for nearly 8 months now, and would love to be able to check it’s status or receive updates, see pictures, and read notes through one of my online profiles. And let me choose to share some of the content, so that I don’t have to post/Tweet to let everyone know that “My car is finally fixed” and then have to answer multiple times what happened in the first place. Link the history content straight to the back story and let your company show it’s colors to people closest friends and family. Now that’s motivation to get the job done right, and right now.
Wrapping It Up
It’s not hard to make a mark in the social media world, and it shouldn’t be any different for an insurance company. I just found out that our company just hired a new social media genius, and I’m extremely excited to see what he brings to the table. I’m sure it will be a lot more, and a lot better than my ideas, but like I said, I’m a “n00b” at this stuff. But I’m learning.