Monthly Archives: March 2011

Too Good To Be True…?

Too LoudI am always amazed at how many quick fixes and “try this and you’ll be an instant social media success” schemes exist. “Learn how to create a viral video!” “Double your sales with Facebook!” No wonder some insurers and producers see social media as just more snake oil.

Quick fixes are nothing new, of course. When we get sick, we hope the doctor will be able to prescribe something to make the pain go away immediately. When we’re given an assignment at work, we tend to look for the quickest means to complete it. We all hope to win the lottery.

So it‘s only natural that we hope, even considering the outlandish claims of instant success, that the simple act of establishing a corporate Facebook page will somehow deliver an immediate benefit. And it should also be no surprise when top management is reluctant to allocate resources to a venture without some assurance that tangible benefits will be realized quickly.

The fact is, however, true social media success, i.e., meaningful and measurable benefits, takes planning, commitment and perseverance. Without a clear strategy and practical implementation plan, social media participation at the corporate level becomes little more than a waste of resources. Without a commitment to make social media a permanent corporate communications and research function, any effort will likely flounder. And without the perseverance to monitor, measure, reevaluate, and tweak the process every day, the conversations will grow stale and scripted and true dialogue will disappear.

The Insurance Story Can Be Told

Telling the storyAt countless insurance meetings over the years, I have heard executives complain about the industry’s reputation and that consumers “just don’t understand insurance.” Then they just shrug and say “our company will never win any popularity contests.” Hogwash. Such talk not only lets a company off the hook for even trying to improve its standing with consumers, it also ignores the fact that a powerful instrument of reputation-building is available right now. Many insurers and producers have yet to take note, but happily, a small but growing number of them are discovering just how powerful true social media participation can be.

In times past when a company or the industry was faced with a crisis, the immediate impulse was to spend an exorbitant amount of money on an ad campaign. But today’s consumers don’t like lectures. They don’t trust institutional jargon. They do want answers to their questions and concerns, however, and not all of them have to do with buying the latest coverage.

Social media provides any company the platform to tell their insurance story, not in grand pronouncements but in small, bite-size pieces that can speak directly to a consumer’s needs, concerns, and understanding about insurance. If a policyholder makes an online complaint, don’t take it as a personal affront but as a golden opportunity to truly reach out and address it. If a complaint needs to be resolved offline, say so but do it with respect and concern. If a consumer is confused about why his or her premium is going up and they have not had any claims, don’t give them corporate speak .

The insurance story is a compelling one. But how it‘s told determines how it will be received.