Enterprising Developments

'The Social Network' Misses the Real Drama

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 24, 2011

I just saw the movie The Social Network, a semi-documentary, Hollywood-fueled and dramatized account of the world's most popular website.

For anyone seeking insight into the secrets of harnessing the power of information technology to extend your reach in the world, you are bound to be disappointed by this tale of juvenile hijinks, backstabbing, lawyering-up and greed. And the fact that, at least according to the movie, the 21st Century's leading social business platform started out as a grudge by a jilted, love-struck student.

But still, in the insurance industry—where things are taken quite seriously—some companies are taking Facebook quite seriously. At the end of last year, for example, Farmers Insurance announced that it was staging a drawing that would enable winning Facebook users to take a ride on the Farmers Airship, the only Zeppelin in the United States, just for “liking” Farmers. The contest was promoted through Facebook's popular “Farmville” site.

In an interview published by Neal Schaffer, Ryon Harms, director of social media for Farmers, says this is just one step in Farmers increasing its social media footprint. Part of Farmers' Farmville strategy is that it was going where its ideal demographic resided—stay-at-home moms who make the insurance purchasing decisions in their households. At the time the article was written, Schaffer says Farmers had accumulated more than 37,000 fans on Facebook.

That's serious stuff, despite Hollywood's focus on the hijinks.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

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Comments (2)

I agree with you Tony. Smart insurers are learning that they can use social media without violating client privacy to show people the value of customer service. Prospective clients earn that their are more points of differentiation than just price.

Posted by: Gregory M | February 1, 2011 4:49 PM

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I'm sure that the prized demographic minority of
"stay at home moms" will be totally unaware of the years when Farmers, State Farm, Allstate and others pulled out of their local markets (states) for various reasons. How many consumers really care about
much more than how much they can save? After all that's the primary message the big direct insurers preach 24/7. We have the best coverage at the lowest price. If you're not with us, you're being over charged. In reality, insurance is not all the same. It has some commodity features, but many differences.
What is most disturbing is the degree of poor to bad customer service that insurers seem to think ought to be acceptable to our policyholders! The internet will
soon force changes on those who refuse to make them proactively.

Posted by: Tony V. | January 28, 2011 3:23 PM

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