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Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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The Social Movement: Experts Share Insight

Social media experts across the economy share their thoughts on the growth of social media.

As social media grows as a brand unifier across all industries, organizations are presented with the opportunity to broaden their global presence while strengthening ties to their local communities. All businesses, including insurers, have the tools at their disposal to empower and engage with their customers. 

These ideas served as the backbone to the many presentations given at the Connect via Hootsuite conference, held this past Wednesday at New York’s Hudson Hotel. Speakers from prominent socially active brands like Twitter, Major League Soccer, and the United Nations offered their insight on developing social strategy.

A recent study conducted by Hootsuite and Capgemini revealed that 88% of organizations believe social media is key to remaining competitive in today’s marketplace. Some 84% of respondents utilize social channels to enhance their customer relationships, and more than three quarters (79%) monitor their external conversations. 

However, plenty of social media’s benefits also serve as the foundation for its challenges. Some 67% of survey respondents admitted having difficulty in using social channels to engage customers better, and 61% struggle to monitor their external interactions. 

[How New York Life Uses Social Media

The insurance industry, in particular, is experiencing a period of social media growth. “In insurance, it used to be ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” said Rob Begg, VP of enterprise strategy at Hootsuite, with respect to social media adoption. “Now it’s about enabling employees within compliance.”

Enablement is a big trend in insurance, Begg explained, since carriers needs to spread their product messages through their employees in the field. This requires them to distribute materials that their customers will want to share, which is difficult for plenty of organizations. “People struggle with content.”

Customers want to read about topics that relevant to their lives, he said. To appeal to this desire, insurers should seek opportunities to post content around major life events. P&C insurers could attract customers by posting information on buying a first car or home. Health carriers might share advice on proper exercise and nutrition. Insurers don’t need to create the content, either. Many businesses forget that curating content is just as effective as creating original posts.

In sharing content, organizations should also consider where their customers are most active online, explained Sarah Bailey, social media marketing manager at Dow Jones, in a panel discussion. In creating a social presence for one of her niche brands, Bailey noticed that her audience members were much more active on LinkedIn than on Twitter. To appeal to their interests, she formed a LinkedIn community group, which quickly grew to more than 8,000 followers. It serves as a hub for engaged chats.

Engaging followers through social interaction should be as efficient and personalized as possible, noted Amanda Flood-Farrell, director of retail at Twitter. Today’s customers expect immediacy from their online interactions and are becoming less likely to express interest in general advertisements.

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
10/31/2014 | 10:42:18 AM
Re: Reposts
Completely agree - social media is about much more than businesses posting content relevant to their products. If they can show that they know their audience by sharing things that may interest them, they're more likely to gain followers. 
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 5:32:15 PM
Reposts
A great point was made, "Many businesses forget that curating content is just as effective as creating original posts." I follow a lot of companies and products that share news that may be completely irrelevant to their product, but in the wheelhouse of their customer base. It makes me appreciate and value them as part of my social circle. That being said, there's something to be learned about timely news - when brands share an article that was big news two weeks ago, I don't think very highly of them.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 1:21:29 PM
Compliance
There is a lot of focus on social compliance in insurance. I guess there's a good reason for that, but I feel like a less fearful approach would be better for the industry. Most social initiatives are benign before even going to compiiance, I'm sure, but nit-picking is a good way to discourage innovation.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
10/24/2014 | 2:03:23 PM
Re: Social media
Based on the chats I've had about social, it seems like the regulators are still trying to figure out where they stand with respect to social media, which could explain the ambiguity. That could definitely be a factor in why FS employees aren't on social. Another reason could be that some execs don't yet realize how powerful a tool social media can be. 
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
10/24/2014 | 1:57:14 PM
Re: Social media
I completely agree, smart move on their part. The panelists had a ton of great ideas for social strategy. Major League Soccer's director of social media explained how they sometimes bring in industry professionals to chat with fans online. I'm not sure how well that kind of project would translate over to insurance/financial services, but it might be something fun to try. 
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
10/24/2014 | 1:53:06 PM
Re: Social media
Yes, the number of financial services employees who do NOT use Twitter seems to be higher than employees in other industries. I don't have any solid research on this observation, but it seems the ambiguity from regulators when it comes to social media in financial services has forced employees to stay off of twitter. I could be wrong, but I more often than not, when I'm talking to FS employees about twitter, most say they aren't on it.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
10/24/2014 | 1:03:22 PM
Social media
Interesting insights, Sarah Bailey's comments are right on. Too often, companies just feel like "I need to be on Twitter/Facebook etc" without thinking about why or where their customers are. It doesn't surprise me Dow Jones customrs are more active on Linkedin than Twitter.
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