Social media channels are, more often than not, touted as a way to connect with younger consumers who otherwise are outside the sphere of influence of traditional sales and marketing channels. That is indeed true. But social media channels are just as much about enabling consumers to talk about brands. For insurers, brand reputation is probably the most compelling reason to embrace social media channels. Corporate messages are being drowned out by the sheer volume of public conversations about organizations of every size and in every industry.

Companies in other industries are far more aggressive in their use of social media channels, especially when it comes to listening and responding. I know that such outlets have far fewer regulatory or privacy constraints, but if consumers are talking about you, it makes business sense to hear what they say. We can demonstrate how prevalent this is becoming with a recent rather comedic example that took place on Twitter in the U.K.

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