Frequent readers might remember that I spoke at the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents last year.  (Man, a lot has happened in a year!)  Here’s the blog post/podcast from last year.  Apparently I added value so they asked me back.

Last year we discussed e-business and social media/social networks.  Since then, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about what I now call Social Technologies – more to the point ENTERPRISE Social Technologies.  How are business using tools like Blogs, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, viral marketing and so forth to accomplish their business objectives?

So I did a poll of the audience as I started.  I would characterize the audience, in the words of Peter vanAartrijk, as Male-Pale-&-Stale!  Seriously, about 70-80 folks in the insurance business in Kansas.  I counted about 5 women, the group seemed to be 100% ‘white’, average age in the late 40′s, early fifties.  As to stale?  See below.  In that context, here are the results of the very unscientific poll:

Stand up if your company has a Web site? 90%

Stand up if you have sent an email? 100%

Stay standing if have written an article that appears on a Web site showing you as the author? about 10

Stand if you have commented on an article on a Web site? about 15

Stand if you are blogging for work?  0 Personally? 2

Stand if you have a Linkedin profile? 40%

Now stay standing if you have derived meaningful business results from Linkedin? 1

Stand if you have a Facebook profile? 40%

Stay standing if you tweeted within the last 24 hours. 2

Reader: What are your comments on these stats?  Anything surprising?  Why or why not?

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Btw, Bob Davies spoke before me.  Great speaker for a conference.  He wants to be on TV on News Year Eve and wanted to know if Social Tech might help him get there?  Hmmm.  Yup.

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A few reflections on the plane ride back to CLE….

1. At the Awards & Recognition Banquet, I heard several stories about the life and times of insurance agents in Kansas.  One agent in particular held the majority of the property & casualty policies of a section of a town that was flattened by a tornado last year – half-mile wide, Cat5, total destruction, loss of life, really bad.  I hope I get this right, but I think I heard that his office snapped into action and processed some 200+ claims in just a few days, of course helping people get back on their feet and restoring a semblance of normalcy after a catastrophic event.  Kind of brings things into focus as to why they are in the business.  Also brings to mind the incredible power of Social Tech.  Imagine the powerful video that could be made about that story with just a few images and soundbites.

2. This is the best of times and the worst of times in the insurance business.  On the one hand, we see a federal government administration that feels that the FEDS should be the insurance policy for everyone – and thus have ultimate power and control over everyone – of course in their best interest. (Yeah, sure – history has really validated that kind of political system, eh?  Let’s make a BIG CHANGE next month.  OK, my opinion.)  But for sure, the feds seem to be attacking insurance companies and agencies every chance they get.  Definitely a hostile regulatory environment right now – worst of times.  At the same time, many insurance companies have become ‘quoters’ – faceless companies providing down-and-dirty minimum coverage to people suffering through a depression looking to cut expenses and make it through, further hurting the business model of the independent agent.

3. But I see it as the best of times as well.  With the convergence of both insurance technology and marketing technology, the independent agent or agency is getting back into the drivers seat after a decade of being disenfranchised by the Web, especially the search engines, and the high cost of tech.  Insurance technology development costs have dropped, crowdsourcing is making new tech development accessible for the small business, and Social Tech is helping the independent agent get the word out and drive sales opportunities in a way never before possible.  I dare say that insurance agents are in a PERFECT position to capitalize on Social in a very unique way.  Why?

Well, for one, the vast majority of agencies are constantly serving within their communities, doing stuff that helps make their part of the world a better place.  Yes, absolutely, they are hoping to generate good will and offset the typical mindset that they are peddlers providing something people wish they didn’t need and hope they never have to use.  But community service is a good thing, right?  And there are usually good stories that result.  And the stories have corresponding pictures, images, and sound bites that can be easily crafted into viral video’s that will help the next customer understand the value of the agency.  And imagine the powerful video’s about claims that have been paid as mentioned previously.  Isn’t all this perfect for Social Tech?  What are your comments?  Out in left field, or are insurance agents perfect candidates for Social Media Marketing and innovation?  Please share thoughts and stories.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for reading.  Enjoy a few pictures from the Heartland and the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents 2010 Management Conference.  <SmugMug Gallery>  Thanks for inviting me.  Hope I added value.  Great people.  The closing entertainer, Jason Hewlett, was PHENOMENAL!  Great time.  Blessings…

Oh, yeah – as to the “stale” remark above!  Well, I didn’t get to know everyone, but the ones I did?  DEFINITELY NOT!