Consultants' Corner

Insurers Leading in Social Media Engagement May Surprise You

Terry Golesworthy
Insurance Experts' Forum, February 14, 2013

Social media is a way for friends and family to hold conversations. It allows people to share what is happening in their lives: the highs, the lows, their life events. Brands became interested in social media only upon discovering how many people—including customers—were spending so much time there. The relationship between brands and people on social media can be tortuous. There is something a little unnatural about brands attempting to be human, and people rarely looking to engage in casual conversations with a corporation.

This unnatural relationship is, on the face of it, accentuated when it comes to insurance. Who wants to be friends with their insurance company? Well in fact, gaining fans and followers has not proved to be that difficult, especially for deep-pocketed insurers. Looking at the Facebook fan league table, all the usual suspects lead the way—Progressive, Allstate, State Farm, Farmers and MetLife.

But, remember, social media is about the conversation; you can get people to like the page and even click on the occasional picture, but a dialogue that is not. So what kind of true conversations are people willing to have with an insurance company? Put your consumer hat on for one moment. You all own insurance policies and if you are reading this, you more than likely work in the insurance industry. The question is, how many of you have ever engaged in a social media dialogue with an insurance company? My guess is not many.

Looking at last month’s data for normalized interactions on Facebook (all interactions for the month divided by the number of fans) to give us comparable rates of engagement, there is an interesting trend. The big spenders are nowhere near the top. In fact, most sit nearer the bottom. The top 10 are:

1. Auto-Owners Insurance

2. New Jersey Manufacturers

3. Woodmen of the World

4. California Casualty

5. Modern Woodmen of America

6. Allstate Motorcycle

7. Mercury Insurance

8. State Auto

9. PEMCO

10. Shelter Insurance

These are insurers where fans share a true bond and that drive dialogue when members relate to each other. The two Woodmen companies are fraternal organizations; most of the others are restricted by region, professions or are membership organizations. Allstate is the large insurer on the list but only at the behest of a specialized page with the bond obvious.

While most insurance agents have yet to realize value from social media, the ones who have invariably point to exactly the same discovery: their value is being part of the local community, not for information about life insurance or new auto policies. The bond is local.

Social media facilitates conversation. If insurers really want to take advantage of this medium, they need to understand why people are there. This may seem simple, but it is a change in corporate culture –joining the conversation, chosen by the consumer rather dictating the conversation to the consumer. This turns marketing on its head, and that is why social media is transformative.

This blog was posted with the permission of the Customer Respect Group.

Terry Golesworthy, president of The Customer Respect Group, has covered technology issues and innovations in the insurance industry for many years.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Terry using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He also can be reached at terry@customerrespect.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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