Thoughts, real-world observations, and anonymous examples – good and bad – regarding the use of Web/Social/Mobile technology in the insurance industry. Follow Mike Wise, President WebWisedom LLC, for the latest in Social Technologies.
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So it’s been snowing off and on here for three days!!! Geez. But there’s LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL – Miami in 12 days… for 9 days. PIMA and ICMG. First PIMA…
[Twitter Hash-tag for PIMA: #PIMAAssn (more on Twitter at the end of the story)]
The 2011 PIMA Annual Meeting will be in full swing two weeks from today. At 200 registrations and climbing, and with content focused on “Innovation”, it’s shaping up to be a bang-up conference. Greatly looking forward to attending, taking pictures, engaging in thought-provoking discussions, podcasting with a very sharp new member and savvy guests on innovation, and having fun with people a lot smarter than me in this business.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be asked a few recurring questions.
…or something along those lines. I have some really good answers to both.
But I’m equally sure I will also hear a few recurring statements.
…or something along those lines.
Totally understand and resonate. Let me collect a few thoughts and ask for your comments…
On “No Time”…
Social Media Marketing, building a Social-based river of information, actively engaging your constituents, and paying attention to ‘listenting’ programs definitely takes time and resources. No doubt about it. As an example, this blog post took me from 9-1030am this morning from start to finish.
A little about what I do…
It does take time.
But on the flip side, I am NOT doing things that used to take up that time. Looking back over last year, I would characterize several big items:
Net net, diving in and making room for Social in my schedule has actually freed up AT LEAST an equal amount of time that it has consumed.
How about you? If you’ve done a similar process, has this been your experience?
If you’ve haven’t done this process, do you see opportunities with your time where you could make similar changes?
Please share a comment.
On the Compliance side, totally get that. Here’s the good news. Last year I collaborated on a strategic project with a leading insurance company in the insurance affinity space. Long story short, they hired me to research industry and company guidance relative to Social Media and Compliance. Once we had all the facts in a nicely organized document, we then took a half day and talked through the ‘real deal’ wrt Social and the insurance industry and more specifically the affinity distribution model. At the end of the day (literally), compliance was VERY pleased with the report, the discussion, and, perhaps most importantly, the approach. (I give great Kudo’s to the affinity marketing veteran who led the effort – a STUDY in professionalism on several levels.) We’re now moving beyond that into the strategy phase – in collaboration with a much smarter compliance department.
Is Compliance still an issue for you? What questions do you have?
Comment below or let’s talk at PIMA…
To the statement about past success, it’s totally legit. Absolutely. I still don’t have a good answer… at least one that doesn’t come off as a scare tactic or offensive. I have a lot of answers, but they typically aren’t successful in helping someone in this mode understand their need for Social and/or to get started. But invariably when I hear this statement, the first company that comes to mind is Blockbuster and the whole Netflix/Redbox situation, since I see the remnant of a Blockbuster store near my house quite often.
At one point, Blockbuster was extremely successful. But now they are… well, let’s just say they have fallen. Why? Of course there are a lot of reasons (click on this Google search called blockbuster case study 2010). But no doubt (and if anyone has a true story to share, please do), at some point in the early days of Netflix, there were conversations at Blockbuster about Netflix as a threat, the whole streaming video business model idea, the potential impact on consumer behaviors, and so forth. What was the response at that moment by the leadership team?
Am I out in left field, or would it be safe to say that Blockbuster did not adapt, perhaps at the very point that they were REALLY successful, at a point where the executives might have said,
“Why change? Our business model has made us VERY successful?”
What do you think? Do you see a connection with the insurance affinity exec that says,
“Why do Social Media Marketing? I’ve been very successful with Direct Marketing.”
What’s your take on all this. Whether you are going to PIMA or not, do you have anything to share that we can all learn from? I, for one, am all ears.. and I’m confident many of the follow-on readers will be as well. Please Comment below. Thanks a gazillion in advance. (Btw, if you do Comment, click the button that subscribes you to the subsequent comments so you can stay posted on the thread.)
More on Twitter:
Hashtags? YouTube video on it
How Twitter and Hashtags help enrich conferences. Great stuff on this Google Search.
Not sure about Twitter? Link to Twitter Handbook… excellent Resource.
Oh yeah, PS. Akron Men’s Soccer set yet another record!!! In the MLS SuperDraft, 5 OF THE TOP 10 DRAFTEES were from Akron!!! Holy Cow! Read the story here.
First, to explain the hashtags in the title, see my comment on last weeks post here – very powerful reason relative to Social Influence.
For those of you that listened to Part 1 of the terrific podcast with Nibby Preist and Chris Jordan (click here for that), you will be pleased with Part 2. For those that missed it, perhaps download both. In Part 1, we covered Linkedin and Twitter – how insurance agents are using the tools for business. This one picks up where we left off and talks about Facebook and Blogging. Chris & Nibby share great insights about what they are doing to drive ROI with Social Media. (I like that I’ve waited since April to publish Part 2. There have been some interesting new developments since then which add a bit of a retrospective to the conversation.)
A couple notes to reinforce:
From Nibby – Lots of Facebook ROI, but you have to stick with it. Which leads me to give myself a shameless plug – Hire me to do the strategy. I can save you a lot of time and brain damage, and connect you into some powerful information streams along the way. Call me.
Nibby and Chris both talk about redeeming wasted time to make room for Social. I speak to this point often with people who ask, “How do you make time for your Social stuff? I’m swamped as it is….” Listen to what they say and come back with a Comment below. What do YOU think?
The comment about the use of mobile and the blur of work happening outside of traditional 9-5 is spot on. Those of you that are doing this, what do you think about it? Those that aren’t, you might say, “You see??? That’s EXACTLY why I DON’T want to get into social stuff. When I go home, the LAST thing I want to do is get on the computer or check email on my mobile….” After listening, what are your comments about the blur?
Chris – spot on about learning more about prospects and business partners and pull-marketing.
Fantastic that both commented about the ROI of their blogs, especially about the unified voice, about SEO, and about newspaper and media outlets. I’ve been sayin’ it for a while now…
Listen in and please Comment below.
Favorite recent picture…. I shot a nationally televised college soccer game – absolutely thrilling to get that chance. The Photo Gallery has been simply POUNDED. This is one of my favorites. Mattocks from Jamaica scored the third goal and came running right at me – and the “Fear the Roo” image is in view on the building behind him. Love that shot.
Yep…Twitter really does rank highest. So contrary to something I heard 2 weeks ago from an insurance industry CEO who said Twitter was dying, it looks like it’s quite alive and well. (Btw, the a fore-mentioned executive has no experience with Twitter. Ummm…. the things people say…)
See page 20 of the report, 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report – ton of fascinating data-points in here. Take a few minutes to scan. Might change your mind about a few things, or reinforce some of your ideas.
My own experience with Twitter is thriving. In the last 4 weeks or so, I’ve seen a noticeable increase in my followers, both in quantity and quality.
Useful? Big time. I’m meeting new people I never would have met otherwise, people on my topic, people smarter than me, people doing the things I’m writing and talking about with my clients, etc. etc. Some of them are adding significantly to my River of Information, as Scott Klososky coined the phrase. More followers is inherently important and useful. Why? A number of reasons. Here’s one: Social Relevancy.
Social Relevancy is the little known third leg of the Social Tech stool, the first being Social Media, 2nd Social Networks, and 3rd Social Relevancy. Social Relevancy is all about the Influence a person or an entity has in the social scape relative to a subject matter. Take me as a quick example. I’m obviously trying to impact my Social Relevancy with respect to Insurance and Technology, Social Media Marketing, Socially Facilitated Selling, and so forth. So maintaining a Blog, a Twitter feed, a Linkedin presence, and authoring a Book is all part of building Social Relevancy. And the number of people that are paying attention to what I’m doing matters. Numbers matter. Whenever someone introduces an author, they recount how many books they’ve sold. An athlete – how many championships. A veteran – how many combat awards.
It’s no different with Social. How many Subscribers to the Blog? How many Followers on Twitter? How many Linkedin Connections? How many Friends or Fans on Facebook? The numbers indicate how many people someone or an entity can reach with their posts or updates, and of those people that they can reach, how much influence do they have over them. Will their followers Retweet or post back-links to the content? In other words, is there a viral marketing potential there. Relevance = Influence = Importance
For example, I just looked at my Linkedin Network. Under “Network Statistics”, it says I’m connected to 909 people who are connected to about 300,000 people who are connected to about 9.5 million people. So doing the math I guess my average Connection has about 300 Connections. I’d be interested to know what the median is – probably more like 50-100 since I connected to about 50 of the TopLinked people, or LION’s (Linkedin Open Networkers, those with thousands of Connections). But either way, that’s a lot – clearly useful if I want to communicate and share. There’s 75 million total in Linkedin, so I’m connected to over 10% of them. Wow! That’s useful.
But here’s the REALLY useful thing with Twitter – RESEARCH. As I’ve mentioned before, I use Tweetdeck and twitter search almost every day. I’ve got active searches running all the time on keywords I’m tracking for special clients or purposes. I’ll pop in and out of searches using columns in Tweetdeck. Very very useful. Twitter Search is kind of the exact opposite of Google Search.
Do you see how that’s just a lot more useful netnet than Google? Plus Google doesn’t include Social content like Tweets.
Do you see why it’s so imperative to be publishing content in a way that is easily shared?
Do you see why Viral Marketing can be EXTREMELY effective, not only from eyeballs but also from cost?
Think e-business circa 1999. Social is 2010. E-business generated BIG revenue in 10 years, really changed the landscape. Social will make e-business look small.
And Oh Yeah, I haven’t even mentioned the SEO impact of Twitter on what I’m doing. Read about Twitter and SEO here.
So 4 useful data-points on Twitter – recent Growth, Social Relevance, Research, and SEO. Still think it’s ‘dying’???
What questions or comments to you have? Others likely have the same or similar. Share how it helps you? Happy to dialog below.
One last thing on Twitter. A few of you have said, “Dude, I don’t understand what you are saying with your Linkedin Status updates..” (i.e. Tweets, since I use Tweetdeck to interact with Linkedin (oops, that’s a secret)). Here are a few. Let me decode them. It’s pretty simply once you understand the syntax or format – or language – of Twitter. Remember, with Twitter, you have to be short, concise, and useful – on several levels.
In this case, it also has the original author up front. RT means Retweet, which means I saw the original tweet, clicked through, found it useful, and decided to share it. The # is called a hashtag. Notice that on Linkedin or Twitter, you can click on the word if it’s preceded by a hashtag. That makes it easy for the reader to click into that thread on Twitter. So in the above Tweet, if you click on #social or #B2B, notice what comes up – a whole conversation on that topic.
That’s it. Let’s try one more of my tweets from this week…
See how it works? Every character in a Tweet is important. So lots of abbreviations, left out participles, etc. Not all words are useful in a Tweets. Tweets are typically scanned. Only the keywords matter, and they need to be searchable. If you want to be Retweeted (Viral), the Tweet needs to be useful and worthy, and have room at the end for the retweeter’s comment, too. So really it’s NOT 140 characters – general rule of thumb is 120.
That’s it for now. I’ve spilled my guts on Twitter. Please – you share as well. Hey, Retweet or Share this blog post if you think your network will learn something! But Comment and drop a back-link to your URL (or your company, or your client site – remember… SEO!) THANK YOU.
KAIA – sharing ‘the good stuff’ in K.C. Can’t wait.
PIMA Webinar end of October – will be running a survey before
But first – NCAA DIVISION 1 MEN’S SOCCER Friday night 8pm #1 Akron v. #2 Tulsa – HUGE!!!. Tune into FOX Soccer Channel and maybe see me hustling the sidelines with my camera (I keep a low profile, though)! It’s gonna be CRAZY!!!!! PICTURES WILL BE POSTED HERE.
Picture I made of the mighty warriors that upset St. Bonaventure 4-0. Huge
Some recent learnings I wanted to share…
Last spring, after church in the college town of Houghton, NY, I found myself in a discussion about blogging and social media with the president of my son’s college, Houghton College. (Couple side notes: 1. The pastor of the small church in the middle of the poorest county in NY has a blog and uses Twitter. 2. Houghton (pronounced ho’ ton, or in the local area dialect … ho’ in !!! like Martin is mar’ in or Walton is wal’ in – so funny!)
Dr. Mullen asked me to come for a more formal discussion with her the next time I was up for a soccer game….
While I don’t want to shift my focus away from insurance to HigherEd, I learned a couple of the things about Social Technologies as I prepared and spoke with Dr. Mullen and the leader of Marketing Communications for the college.
In a quick search of competitive schools to Houghton, I found that almost all of the schools have at least some Social Tech on their Web properties. But two of the schools are definitely out in front and seem to have invested some energy towards a more well-defined Social Tech strategy.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University has an interesting strategy. While it’s below the fold, if you scroll down a tad, you will find the Social Tech call-outs in a unified bar. The interesting thing is that the bar is really one image that is all hyper-linked to the same subpage. But the Social Tech subpage is really well-organized and clearly directs the visitor to the appropriate Social areas of interest. Again, it seems clear that the school is pursuing a Social strategy. It’s also clear that it’s in its infancy. As an example, SocialTech buttons are not in view on all pages of the site. ShareThis is not ubiquitous. And the links to the Social sites, such as the Facebook and Twitter links, do not open in a new page. As I mentioned last time in the NYLife post, it’s critical that these links open in a new page or tab – You don’t want to lose the traffic, you want to spread the traffic, grab more mind-share as it were.
Also interesting that they are doing special things for prospective students. See the link under admissions. It goes to a separate domain. Notice the heavy use of Social Tech there. The links go to the same Social sites as with the main site, just with a little different treatment.
Another Social Tech leader we looked at in the president’s office is St. Bonaventure University – nice site. Their Social Tech links are above the fold. Clicking on the www.sbu.edu/social signage brings you to a similar page as Mt. Vernon, but a little different organization. The Facebook strategy isn’t segmented yet, but they have a live Facebook integration in the box below the fold. They also have a video (that doesn’t work on a Mac – doh!). Perhaps the coup-de-gras is the Blog Directory, although that call-out is really easy to skip over. But clicking through to the blogs and you can quickly see that Blogs have been in-play at SBU since 2004. Some of the staff and prof’s have very mature blogs today. Very interesting. Most have their own domains, some have e-commerce, even Google advertising (wonder who gets the revenue?). But again, all the links open in the same page. Do you see why that’s such a disruptive linking situation? Here’s the thing… I don’t want to have to hit the back button. I want to check out those blogs, perhaps even bookmark or subscribe to the feeds while I’m there. But that’s NOT the main reason why I came to the sbu site to begin with. I don’t want to lose my original purpose, my original train of thought. The site needs to help me, not hurt me, not distract – serve up more useful content and links – yes. But help me accomplish my original purpose along the way. Does that make sense? Comments?
Anyway, some intersting learning. Cool how a casual conversation can lead to important insights. Btw, that’s why I never close off discussions just because they are out of my central focus. You never know when or where that golden nugget of information will come from.
Some favorite pictures from the trip (out of at least 5000 pictures!) Understand that shooting a soccer game is 1000 pics in itself. You have to keep shooting to get the good stuff…
Favorite from Lake Waukewan, sister to Lake Winnipesaukee where my cousin has a lake house. Incredible sunrise on the right, a storm rolling in on the left, and a still lake at dawn in the middle.
Favorite soccer pic of my son at the Houghton College Men’s Soccer 2010 home opener. #19
Soccer pic from Gordon College where four of my son’s teammates from High School play.
Would LOVE your comments, especially with links to other sites that are doing a good job with social, regardless of the industry.
10am (with a couple distractions along the way)
Btw, it’s been 3 weeks since my last post. Longer than normal by 2 weeks. Here’s why: The NYLife post saw a lot of action and dialog so I wanted to leave it up for an extra week. Then last week I decided to tackle a huge trip from CLE up through Postdam, NY, across Vermont to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, down to Boston, MA, back to Houghton, NY, and back to CLE. It took a week to cover all that ground, but I accomplished my mission… and stayed productive work-wise thanks to my Droid Incredible (a $99 device from Verizon with a new contract – really useful). Lot to bite off, but I made it.