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The insurance industry getting socially savvy

Written by Norv Leong, January 04, 2012
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Actiance Arrow In looking back at 2011, the insurance industry was quite active on the social media front.  Firms of all sizes hopped on the social bandwagon.  From cavemen to ducks to Aaron Rodgers, marketing folks at insurance companies (both P&C and, to a lesser extent, life/health) were hard at work trying to engage with prospects and customers via social.  A study by SocialEyes revealed much about the state of the industry in its effort to exploit the benefits of this new marketing channel.

As social takes on a more strategic role in insurance firms (as opposed to a novelty), many firms (especially those that weren’t early adopters of social) are turning to marketing agencies for help in developing strategies and campaigns to lure new customers.  Central to any strategy is to create value in the content being posted to social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  With compelling content comes a higher likelihood of increased engagement with a particular prospect or customer.  This is why finding a top-notch marketing agency is so difficult:  it’s not as easy as you might think to find an agency well-versed in social but also possessing the domain expertise crucial to building impactful Facebook pages.

The nice thing about social is that it allows for much creativity.  For instance, 21st Century Insurance tripled its fanbase in just five months, running weekly sweepstakes with prizes like Macbooks.  Similarly, State Farm (in conjunction with its Aaron Rodgers ‘dance-off’ campaign) dangled a trip to the Super Bowl though its social media pages.  And finally, MetLife, leveraging its association with the Peanuts gang (Snoopy!!), noticed a higher level of interaction among its followers when an image of a Peanuts character was used, rather than no image at all.

In fact, when you see which firms are having the most success with social, it’s those firms that have between 10,000 and 100,000 Facebook friends, according to SocialEyes.  Firms in this segment are growing the fastest and tend to have enough resources, both internal and agency, to effectively leverage social.  The firms with more than a million fans tend to be focused on brand-building and not as interested in developing a meaningful dialogue.  Hence, pages with smaller fan counts tend to have higher rates of customer interactions, i.e., more sharing and commenting of content posted.

Interestingly, when it comes to Facebook page types, it was the product-focused pages that saw the fastest growth, not the mascot-type pages (think Aflac Duck, GEICO Caveman, Progressive “Discount!” Girl).  But, the catch here is that firms must work hard to keep the pages relevant and “sticky.”  Building a relationship with customers via social requires commitment and content on the part of the insurance provider.  Already, we’ve seen GEICO shift focus away from its motorcycle and RV product pages to other products.  Like most things social, it’s about responding to market dynamics and providing content “we the people” want to see.

On the Twitter front, insurance companies with more than 10,000 followers were the fastest growing segment, tweeting 3.5x as much as the firms with less than 1,000 followers.  Perhaps a combination of more resources plus the increased use of promoted tweets accounts for the delta between these two segments.  And then there’s the creative GEICO Gecko campaign that utilizes a multi-channel approach, i.e., leveraging both Facebook and Twitter, as consumers can track the Gecko’s journey across the US.  Through this integrated campaign, the number of Twitter followers has increased by 66%.

So, whether it’s cavemen, ducks, or geckos, insurance firms are using social in innovative ways.  Results can vary, but those who put in the effort per a carefully conceived strategy have been (and will continue to be) the ones reaping the most benefits.  At the end of the day, though, creating an experience that provides value to the consumer will ultimately be the measuring stick of a firm’s social strategy.

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