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Bill Sinn, Pitney Bowes
Bill Sinn, Pitney Bowes
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Unlock Twitter's Potential for Insurance Conversations

Twitter has determined there is great value in responding to the needs of consumers when they are in the midst of a specific event or crisis. The insurance industry should take notice.

Despite a furor around privacy in the digital age, consumers exhibit a contradiction: They are actually increasingly comfortable with brands knowing their location, as long as it is done with their permission and they retain control. This has led to some exciting new ways that brands can interact with customers. Twitter's recent policy changes are a perfect example of this trend. Through a new partnership with the Weather Company, Twitter now allows companies to generate location-specific content and tweet it at the exact moment it will be most valuable to users in a given area. For instance, a snow shovel manufacturer can now tweet ads to Bostonians on the first snow day of the year or a Wellington boot company can send promoted tweets to Seattle-based users during a downpour.

Twitter has determined there is great value in responding to the needs of consumers when they are in the midst of a specific event or crisis. The insurance industry should take notice and find ways to be helpful to consumers based on their immediate circumstances. Twitter's new location-enabled platform is creating exciting new opportunities for insurers to leverage the service to complement and enhance their existing location-specific communication efforts. With 241 million active users online, it is well worth the effort for carriers to think about how to use Twitter tactics to reach potential new customers and deepen existing customer relationships.

Bill Sinn, Pitney Bowes
Bill Sinn, Pitney Bowes

While the sky is the limit when it comes to engaging with customers over Twitter, here are some thoughts to get started:

Promoted Tweets Based on Risk Assessment

Many insurers already utilize location intelligence technologies in their underwriting and risk management practices, providing critical insight into risk exposures in specific geographies. Location intelligence also helps insurers streamline and tailor their outreach to customers. For instance, property and casualty insurers are able to target and send tailored marketing materials to homeowners in areas that are at risk of flooding or wildfires. Twitter provides yet another channel to reach customers based on their location. As an insurer, you can identify policyholders in high risk areas and send promoted tweets providing users with helpful information about preparing for disaster and inviting them to explore your policies. You could send a promoted tweet to users in an area that you have identified as hurricane-prone with details about your home insurance offerings.

In a Disaster, Be a Helpful Brand

During times of crisis and disaster, people take to Twitter to share their difficult experiences with friends and followers, and also to keep up with the latest information. This would be the perfect time for an insurance company to provide consumers with information that is helpful and relevant to their immediate needs, based on impending weather conditions. For instance, before a major snowstorm, you could target users in affected areas with links to a blog post about how to install snow tires or where to find nearby emergency parking.

[How American Family humanizes online conversations]

Respond to Existing Customers on Twitter

When a disaster strikes, your location intelligence platform can map out which of your customers are affected. This is an opportunity to take your customer engagement and service levels up a notch by enlisting your social media community managers to monitor what individual customers in affected areas are tweeting and then responding to their immediate needs. After the worst part of the catastrophe has passed, you would also benefit from continued monitoring of those affected customers to see if they are expressing concern about the claims filing process. This provides an opening to respond to them with helpful details about how to efficiently file their claim so that payment can be processed quickly. All of this requires gathering customers' Twitter handles along with their other contact details when they first sign up. You could also invite existing customers to share their Twitter details when they log in to their profile on your website.

Twitter is a powerful – but largely underused – tool for insurers. Insurance companies that keep pace with the latest social media changes will have an edge when communicating with customers in the overcrowded insurance marketplace. While the traditional communication methods of placing calls and sending emails are tried and true, engaging over social media channels will allow insurers to engage with a new generation of consumers.

About the author: Bill Sinn is the Strategic Marketing Director of the Insurance and Healthcare Practice at Pitney Bowes.

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Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
8/7/2014 | 7:52:33 PM
re: Unlock Twitter's Potential for Insurance Conversations
True, after a disaster electronic communications may be down. That may be an indicator that insurers should pay attention to social media before (or in the early stages of) a storm so they can track which areas are getting hit the hardest and may need extra assistance. Twitter really does provide an opportunity for insurers to go beyond marketing and use social media to provide increased value to policyholders.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
8/7/2014 | 2:27:08 AM
re: Unlock Twitter's Potential for Insurance Conversations
These definitely are interesting capabilities with tremendous potential to be deployed by insurers. It's important for insurers to understand that Twitter and other social channels can be used for more than marketing and branding (although of course there are branding benefits from using social in the ways Bill describes). There definitely is a business case to be made for more aggressive use of Twitter. I guess one possible wrinkle is, after a major disaster such as Superstorm Sandy, many people do not have power or wifi or access to the internet -- but of course the Twitter communications would complement, not replace more traditional forms of out reach (at least not in the near term). Thanks for the insights, Bill.
nmonkshp2
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nmonkshp2,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2014 | 9:29:52 AM
re: Unlock Twitter's Potential for Insurance Conversations
Twitter as you describe would be a great start point for disaster management, but having identified which of your customers is potentially involved I would load them into a private social network alongside suppliers and service providers and manage and monitor the recovery processes interactively.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
8/5/2014 | 5:52:20 PM
re: Unlock Twitter's Potential for Insurance Conversations
As you describe, Twitter has tremendous potential for insurers looking to set themselves apart through online communication. I think insurers could really benefit from using social media, in addition to email and phone, to engage with the new generation of consumers. Brands that are helpful and responsive on social media will resonate more with that crowd, especially if they can target certain areas and provide information based on location data.
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