September 1, 2010 – The debate surrounding the use of social media technologies by insurance companies has seemingly moved from “if” to “how.”

Indeed, a new article from New York-based Deloitte, “Building Social Media Into the Game Plan,” reports that whether an insurer decides to implement social media or not, consumers are increasingly viewing and assessing the company brand on their own, through social networking tools.

“As the world becomes ever more empowered by mobile devices and new ways to communicate, the impact and the future of social media cannot be dismissed,” according to a statement by the paper’s authors, authored by Howard Mills, director and chief advisor of Deloitte’s Insurance Industry Group and Arun Prasad, senior manager Deloitte Consulting LLP.

“Recognizing the forest for the trees, innovative insurance companies are taking the lead by acknowledging the power, opportunity, and efficiency of social media while finding ways to navigate around the apparent risks. Those who stay the course are likely to harness these new capabilities to support business initiatives and to enhance communication with employees, customers, agents, and other interested parties across the value chain.”

Nonetheless, the authors note the litany of challenges insurers will face as they ramp up their uses of social media technologies.

Foremost among these challenges is risk management. Use of social media opens up insures to compliance issues. “As social media is much more fluid and open than other trackable means of electronic communications (such as email and text messaging), the fear is that current laws around records retention, advertising, and safekeeping of trade secrets and intellectual property can be applied to insurers’ social media use,” the report states.

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