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.
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