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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I just have a few minutes this morning as I rush off to a presentation on SocialTech and Compliance at an insurance company.
It’s an honor to be asked to lead a Webinar on Social for PIMA, a 30-year old association I’ve been involved in. Without going into too much detail, I hope it suffices to say that I deeply appreciate the opportunity to snowplow the road a bit for the group. But I know that the group will quickly catch up to me once they see the potential of all this. It’s a group of VERY bright people that I am very pleased to associate with. And much of what I will be discussing I’ve chewed on with some of the members over the past couple year at meetings and on phone calls. So I definitely can’t lay claim to much original thought. I guess that make me a Content Curator!
A word on logistics:
Twitter Hashtag for the group – #PIMAAssn
It’s impossible to cover everything on Social in about 60-70 minutes – of course. So my goal is share some of the things I’ve learned about the magnitude of Social as well as a few practical examples of how sales and marketing organizations are using SocialTech. Understandably, and IMHO unfortunately, the nature of the health and life insurance business means there are not a lot of examples on the insurance side. The business is highly regulated with the threat of losing your license always looming over you. It’s also a conservative business by nature, so wary of hype and new stuff. And in general, compensation up and down the org chart is tied to sales results – and rightfully so. More industries should be that way (especially education, but that’s another story).
That said, I’ve been calling around and started a discussion (and Poll – please take it) on Linkedin. I’m trying to get a sense about where people are with SocialTech and what people would most like to hear. I definitely want to debunk some myths about SocialTech as well as the scope and scale of Social. But I’m hearing that people would really like to get information on two big issues.
What would you like to know? What do you know you’d like to share? Please Comment here or on the Linkedin thread.
I would most like people to take away the concept of using SocialTech to build a powerful river of information. In my mind, this is the biggest secret right now. I’m personally using SocialTech to feed my brain in a way unlike ever before. And that’s something that we can all do regardless of Compliance because it’s all inbound consumption. To be sure, they all already know this – in general. The difference now is how to use SocialTech to make the stream even more powerful – and efficient given all our time constraints.
Looking forward to it. Please Comment on the Linkedin Group if you are a PIMA Member.
Meantime, next week is also the Aartrijk Brand Camp in Austin. Really looking forward to that. Some of the smartest people in Social in insurance. Can’t wait. Doing a viral video after!
A couple poignant pictures from my son’s last year as a soccer player before he graduates as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army.
Getting ready to launch on of his trademark throw-ins. Special pic because Mom is in the background.
Lifting his fellow defender Mitch carefully into the truck after he got a concussion. Somehow I think of the Army and the future….
Terrific new group on Linkedin! Social Media – Insurance and Reinsurance
I commented on the thread about helping Executives take a more active interest in Social Media. Thought I’d share the comments here as well… Interested in what you think? Please Comment at the bottom of this thread.
From Nico Conradie in Johannesburg Area, South Africa… “I find it an interesting challenge: how to persuade others (key decision takers) within a large international company to take a more active interest in social media. Any experiences in this respect that can be shared? Any tips? Any pitfalls to avoid? I would be interested in learning from others who have had success in this respect.”
“This is the million dollar question for sure. Like Mairi says, data is critical. There are simply tons of data-driven case studies that establish the value-prop of Enterprise Social Tech. What I’m finding most successful is two 2-hour small-group, executive sessions that drill down into what Social Tech is, why it’s important, and how to leverage it – IN GENERAL. If you can start the session with a flip chart page called “Expectations”, it’s incredibly powerful on several levels.
Here’s the real key from my perspective – Keynote (TM – iWork) slides. For some reason, kind of like seeing Avatar in 3D, these .Key slides are so different than standard .PPT, that they are helping execs ‘see’ the new concepts of ‘Social’ in a new way.
Small group is key as well because it helps the exec’s cough up their preconceived notions in the safety of their board room with the peers. I absolutely LOVE it when an exec says something like “I just don’t get tweeter [sic]. Why would I want to know what someone had for breakfast?!?!?” Usually everyone in the room laughs in agreement. But it’s a PERFECT setup for talking about effective streams of information, Listening, and within 5 minutes I can have the group understanding why that cliche is so destructive. That then leads to more myths being dumped out on the table, etc. etc..
A deep dive into Enterprise Social Tech facilitated by an outsider with incredibly rich visuals and powerful case studies in a small-group, interactive setting. It’s tough to carve out the time, and people usually come kicking and screaming with their arms crossed and skeptical frowns. But if you have the right stuff and can push through the resistance with whimsy yet credibility, you can break through. Of course implementing the resulting strategies, like any other business endeavor, is what will separate the wheat from the chaff in the months and years to come.”
Interested in what you think? Please Comment below the picture.
Recent picture from a wedding I attended
December started out in a whirlwind followed by an almost complete 2-week vacation from work, something I desperately needed. Thus the quiet period relative to blogging.
On the Agent-driven side of the house (versus association and affinity)… MyAgencyCenter focus…
Based on my travels and discussions in the early part of December, I remain convinced that local insurance agents can create a self-generating lead system – cheaply and sustainable. Those seem to be the two keys in this market. The solution needs to be an affordable, pay-as-you-go subscription model and easy to support with a simple weekly schedule of agent activity. However, the tricky part is the agent Web site. With the compliance requirements of insurance companies and regulators, and the complexities of insurance quote engines, agent Web sites that are meaningful lead engines for the agents are a real conundrum. They have to be professional, up to date, useful for the prospect, and thus able to move the visitor from the cloud to the funnel. At a bare minimum, the site needs to reinforce the agent’s reputation in the marketplace as a committed insurance professional. MyAgencyCenter, in combination with social media strategies, seems to be the solution. For now, my focus is on MGA’s, IMO’s, career and captive agencies, insurance companies with W-2 agents, and other similar large organizations. (Sorry, MyAgencyCenter is not quite ready to serve individual agents or small agencies.)
So I finally got my first paid consulting gig helping another insurance marketing organization get started with a blog strategy! I’m pretty excited about it. Of course, it’s a covert op at this point, but I’m hoping it will become overt later in the year as the blogs mature and the client becomes more comfortable with the environment. Let me know if you feel motivated to start your own. I can’t recommend it highly enough…
Sidebar – Priceline.com rocks. Might be ‘old news’, but I’ve developed an affinity for it with all the budget cuts. Just gotta say that I’ve saved a ton on air and car rentals – without much adverse impact on convenience, I must say. Let me know if you’d like some tips. What about you? How do you save money with travel expenses? Any neat ideas? Please comment.
PIMA 2010 Annual Meeting in three weeks in the Florida Keys
In collaboration with Bill Tyson and Sherri Lagana, as well as pointers from Rick Jones, conference tri-chair and Mona Buckley, PIMA CEO, I’m working hard on the panel discussion “Demystifying Social Media”. It’s a tall order for a 45-minute session, but I’m working with some really smart and savvy people. The interesting thing that we’re netting out to is that, once you get into the social media game, it’s really not that mysterious. I’d be interested in your comments.
And the other really neat thing is that each Social Media program within each organization will likely be, by very nature, unique and different based on the people and products of the organization. And lastly, unlike Web sites and the tendency for CIO’s and IT departments to hijack what should be primarily simple marketing projects, Social Media strategies and the execution there-of are clearly destined to be managed by sales and marketing (of course, in collaboration with IT and Compliance as appropriate).
Look for a Social Media survey in the next week or so. And yes, I’ll be taking interesting pictures. Smile… but don’t look at the camera if you don’t have to!
While I’m on the Social Media topic, here’s a very useful aside. Do you have a Social Media ‘Policy’ for your organization? A couple months ago, I collaborated with a very savvy group of insurance marketers on the P&C side of the business. Let by Jeff Yates and the IIABA ACT subgroup, we developed a helpful guide for establishing a Social Media Policy for an organization. Again, Social Media Strategies will vary by organization (let me know if you need help with that), so it’s not a cookie-cutter thing. SM Policies will vary. But the guide will help you cover most if not all of the must-haves for an effective policy. Also find it HERE, another great blog. I’d be interested in any feedback as it’s by nature a ‘living’ document.
ICMG 2010 Annual Meeting in Tucson
Looking a little further out, ICMG is coming up on the heels of PIMA. (Btw, I’m glad Mona and Audrey make the effort to collaborate on the scheduling of these two very important events as there is significant overlap, especially on the vendor side of the equation.) Last year’s meeting was a record-breaker. It will be interesting to see if this year will surpass. I know I’ve seen a lot of new members signing up over the course of 2009. But 2009 was a rough year as well, so we’ll see. I’m looking forward to connecting with folks about MyAgencyCenter as well as about Web sites, insurance technologies like quote engines, e-applications, agent portals, and single or multi-carrier agent contracting solutions. As always, there will be ample things to talk about and great opportunities to connect needs and solutions, whether they are mine or not. And oh yeah, I’ll be taking cool pictures. Might even do a vid-cast.
Next: Final Reflections on 2009 and Forecasts for 2010 – A podcast with the legendary Mark M. Hill
A few final pictures from 2009
I had a pro-shooter take a picture of me at the NCAA College Cup, the Men’s Division 1 soccer equivalent of the basketball Final Four. Thought it came out well. My team lost a heart-breaker though. Very long trip back to CLE, lemme tell ya.
A picture of a pricelsss gift I made for my buddy Dave Recchion that moved to North Carolina in 2008.
A picture of Kelle with her favorite Christmas present.
And a pic of me and Zach at the Hudson Chapel Saturday morning Men’s Bible Study. (Btw, speaking of technology, check out what my church is doing with a .TV site… simple and creative, and very cool use of Social Media. And it’s a great church group if you’re looking for one.) I also made a short and sweet music vid over the holidays trying to capture my year in the study…
PIMA MarkeTTech 2009 at the Loews Philadelphia hotel this week – definitely worth the trip. Several neat stories:
1. Best of PIMA award went to Marsh. More on that in a future podcast (I hope).
2. IdeaStar’s client, Forrest T. Jones, won the top Gold Award for E-Commerce Web sites, surpassing some great sites by AON and others.
Ftj.com is absolutely a ground-breaking site. See the White Paper I helped write here. Phenomenal site. Kudo’s to the entire team that worked on. From the early e-business readiness consulting work that Mark Seghers did, through the diligent, competent, and persevering efforts of the FTJ team (Fred & Debbie and others), including the IdeaStar team (Mary, Brent, Phil, Wayne and others), all the way to winning the award and beyond. Simply outstanding efforts and results. Matrix-driven architecture with content management is a great solution for multi-carrier, multi-product, multi-association, multi-state education, quoting, and enrollment. Only way to go circa 2009.
3. A long-time attendee approached me and said, “Mike, I’m finally ready to do a blog. And I want my CEO to do one also…” Cool.
An amazing event on several levels. I found it remarkable that something I brought up at the Stoweflake resort in the summer of 2007 finally yielded some fruit. And I’m flattered and gratified that he came to me. Very very cool.
The decision is not ‘whether or not’ to participate in social media. It’s HOW to participate.
Social Media is a marathon not a sprint. – good quip for the book I’m writing.
Great story about customer service and addressing the customer through social media, turning the relationship around, finding out about a service issue with the rep and a management issue with the rep’s boss – all because they were monitoring social media and then addressed the issue that was raised by the customer. Great story.
Anything more than 2 minutes is boring.
5. Sound bites for a music video to open a panel discussion at the next PIMA Annual Meeting called “Demystifying Social Media”
The audience at the annual meeting will be the executives, so in general the bosses of the folks at MarkeTTech. With notable exceptions, the exec’s are generally crossing their arms and rejecting social media and social networks. But their people are using the tools and definitely see opportunity for insurance marketing. So my hope is that with sound bites and corresponding images, we’ll arrive at a short (<2min!), punchy opener that grabs the execs.
Any comments on this post are welcome. Do you think Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) and Social Media (Blogs, YouTube, etc.) are relevant to the distribution of insurance in the affinity and association markets?