Social networking has infiltrated consumers' lives, and insurers are using it to alter brand images.
Property/casualty and life insurers market some of the most boring consumer products and brands, writes Chad Mitchell, a senior analyst with Forrester Research Inc., Stamford, Conn., in the firm's "Crafting an Insurance Social Media Strategy." Times are changing, though, as emerging direct brands such as Esurance and traditional agent-based insurers such as Liberty Mutual Insurance are developing their social media strategies, and trying to change brand perceptions, according to the report. Auto and life insurance customers continue to flock online to research and buy insurance. And insurance agents use social networks for training and recruiting. Insurance eBusiness executives should build a social strategy that addresses customers' and agents' problems, prepares for risks, and measures what matters.
Social networking, while popular among the Millennial generation (born between 1981 and 2001), is expanding to be a major part of everyone's life. Other people of varying ages and walks of life are joining social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, among myriad others. In fact, according to the Forrester report, in 2008, consumers' use of social technologies exploded, with 75% of U.S. online adults now participating in or consuming social media at least once a month.
While social networking can generate demand and alter brand images, Forrester's report does address the risk of negative customer and/or agent feedback associated with social networking. The firm suggests insurers get legal involved early, be ready to respond quickly and be authentic with social members.
This article can also be found at InsuranceNetworking.com.

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