Four years ago, I presented on Social at The Big “I” Agent’s Council on Technology (ACT) meeting in Tampa [pictures - boy was I young!]. I was impressed with the savviness of the group, the leadership, and the breath of fresh air they gave me as one coming from the Life & Health side of the insurance industry. So I stayed in touch and have helped out with various things, like the Social Media Policy Guidelines and various Webinars and other projects.

Last week I participated in a very active Webinar with over 600 attendees and an active Hashtag on Twitter. The recording is HERE.

Yesterday, our fearless leader, Jeff Yates with The Big “I”, sent an email that stimulated thought. I’d like to share it with my community – and ask a couple questions I’ve been asking a lot these past 4-5 years.

Next week I will once again be attending the ACT Meeting, this year in Dallas, with a talk on The Future. As always, I’ll also be grabbing media and sharing thoughts via Twitter, probably via the same hashtag. Feel free to follow along if you can’t make the event in person. It’s going to be REALLY GOOD.

From Jeff Yates via email:

The latest live webinar put on by ACT’s Social Web Work Group – “Getting a Grip: How to Manage your Independent Agency’s Social Media” – attracted 634 attendees last Friday.  There is obviously very strong agency interest in this subject, which is a very good sign!  Our panelists did a great job and shared a number of excellent insights gleaned from their successful experiences using social media.

As Chuck Blondino, Safeco Insurance, a long time industry participant and observer, remarked to me after attending the session:

“I think it’s interesting how people like your panelists today all started at the same place as beginners, but today they’re speaking a different language, one of accomplishment, achievement, success and confidence, while others are still at the beginner stage and have a hard time seeing past challenge and the unknown.  Agents of the future will need to take stronger steps towards change…

Thus, it remains extremely important for us to continue to publicize the successes agencies are having with social media and to continue to extend the reach of our message.  A good place to start is to communicate the availability of the recording of this session on the ACT website at this link.

From Me (Mike):

The thing that I find remarkable and the reason why I wanted to share this in an area where others could comment:

Chris Paradiso with a Customer, Jan2013.JPG

Chris Paradiso with a Customer

Chuck with Safeco is right on target. Socially-enabled and savvy agencies like those around Ryan Hanley, Chris Paradiso, and Angelyn Treutel, not to mention Claudia McClain, Jason Cass, and others, and the Socially savvy carriers that support them, like Katie Peet at State Auto, and others, are indeed speaking a whole new language. They are implementing all new bizdev, sales, and service strategies and tactics that very successfully leverage new technologies to grow their agencies, often at the expense of their competitors, and increase take-home profitability, PLUS improve customer satisfaction, referrals, recommendations, etc.. And those who listened into the Webinar but who are NOT doing these same things, they are sort of out in the cold, knowing there is something good going on inside but they just can’t get in there.

I’ll go further than that. It’s been my observation that there are still a ton of insurance executives, the actual leaders of agencies and companies, who still today snicker about Twitter, barely use Linkedin, block Facebook and YouTube, are still using dread Blackberries, are not savvy to Crowdsourcing, and essentially prevent people on their teams from advancing their agencies and companies with these tools and strategies.

We’ll be chewing on these tough issues next week at the ACT meeting in Dallas (Reg deadline is Thursday). But in the meantime, 2 questions I’ve been posing across my Social graph for the past 3 years:

1. How do you convince – mentally – a very successful Agency or Company executive, one who has achieved that success in the past, largely non-Social Tech era, and as a result who is now suffering from an awful cocktail of success, wealth, complacency, non-technical skills, and resistance to change… how do you encourage them to loosen the grip, to go from the “command-and-control” business model to the round-org-chart-Social-enterprise with an adaptive culture fully leveraging new technologies and concepts like Big Data?

2. And what’s at stake if very successful Agency or Company executives DON’T go hard after these new technologies, to the point where they themselves can set the strategic business priorities and guideposts that INclude, not EXclude, them? What is the likely trajectory for their enterprises?

If you see this, please take a moment to settle, think and comment. Please. We need these ideas. And they need to be public. Thanks in advance.