At the beginning of each year, commentators insist upon predicting the outcomes of the upcoming year, so why not me.
Two trends stand out: First, insurance agents will undoubtedly use social media more to reach consumers, and second, insurance industry executives will demand more measurement, metrics and proof of success. The biggest trend, however, might be a move to end social media as a discipline. Social media is a communication tool not unlike e-mail or even the mobile phone – the rationale for using any tool is to bring value to the core business of the organization.
Marketing departments in carriers now see social media is a key channel to reach consumers. Facebook is big – they get it! Is it now wise to leave this channel in the hands of a small, unconnected team to run separate programs and campaigns blissfully unaware of company strategy? All those internal presentation about social media worked, thank you and goodbye.
The fact that social media is not a traditional channel intrigues marketers; it adds a new dimension to campaigns – interactivity. Campaigns can reach out and engage with consumers, even being able to extend the campaign to people never targeted in the original plan – the viral effect. Even the rap for social media – how do you measure it – actually is a strength. Social media with engagement gathers valuable information about how much consumers like, are prepared to share, or even hate messages and products. Sure, you still cannot measure ROI, but marketing folks are much better at deflecting that question, unlike their social media counterparts.
Looking at recent examples, Esurance is running ads highlighting trust, and as proof, they feature the company’s Facebook page and customer comments. MassMutual created a series of videos promoting life insurance but selected Facebook and YouTube to host, thereby leveraging brand ambassadors to spread the message.
So is the role of the social media strategist and community manager under fire? Are these the shortest careers ever created?
Not entirely, the range and potential for social media is too broad to restrict to marketing. Customers are starting to communicate with insurers through social media, journalists and bloggers now use social media to follow news, HR is able to find and research job candidates. Agents see social dialogue as a valuable sales process and even underwriters and claims see value with juicy additional personal information.
Social media has a role to play in every department; companies need social strategists to ensure it is not limited to a single role and free to reach across traditional internal boundaries.
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