April 17, 2014

Most insurers are aware of social media’s importance but not all are using these platforms to their full potential. Some businesses, such as Ingenie, have leveraged social media to grow their consumer base while others struggle to maximize its effectiveness.

Social media is rapidly growing in the financial services space, explained Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, in a meeting with I&T. These projects are no longer driven by concerns about compliance and confined to social media teams. The popularity of social media among consumers has made it critical to strategic business growth, said Shih.

Now that social media has become an integral component of proactive business strategy, it is also a responsibility for each employee. Executives, managers and agents must have active social accounts in order to drive consumer engagement and business success.

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Unfortunately for insurers and agents, developing a strong social presence isn’t always easy. Hearsay Social, which recently expanded its partnership with LinkedIn, has developed four steps to help agents and others involved in insurance distribution better navigate the sometimes-tricky waters of social media.

When developing a social presence, it’s not enough for agents to simply create a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account and start posting content. “You have to get on and you have to be active,” Shih explained. The steps are embedded into Hearsay Social’s platform – which is typically used by insurance companies to facilitate their agents’ use of social media – so that clients have to complete one step before moving on to the next one.

First and foremost, agents and distributors must become findable by fully developing their social profiles so they are more frequently suggested in search queries. The more details a profile has, the more likely a beneficial social connection can be made.

Connections are the foundation of social success, which is why network growth is the second step on Hearsay Social’s list. Agents can expand their connections pool by following other industry leaders or joining groups relevant to their company mission or professional interests.

Once a strong group of connections has been established, agents must listen to them. People more often go to Facebook to share significant life news such as a wedding, birth or death. Insurers spend a lot of time looking for such information, Shih explained, and Hearsay Social uses an algorithm to narrow down the relevant content and present it to them.

Thought leadership is Hearsay Social’s final step to social media success, as this can only be done after the account holder has developed an audience. By sharing content, agents and distributors can engage their followers and gain more over time. Insurers can share content with their agents, which they can then share with policyholders.

“We’re teaching them to create habits,” said Shih of Hearsay Social’s four-step strategy. Every agent opts into Hearsay Social, and the company can monitor whether they have a profile, the strength of the profile, how other agents are performing and the number of connections they have. While its primary focus is marketing and distribution, agents can also route certain posts to customer service if a policyholder has a complaint.

Kelly is an associate editor for Insurance & Technology. Prior to joining InformationWeek Financial Services, she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. Kelly has also written for trade ...