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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OK, I haven’t used that line yet and I’ve been blogging for 7 years. Hey, everyone else uses it on me!…
Btw, “LinkedIn currently has more than 175 million members, with 50 million of those members joining the service in just the past year alone. To put that growth in perspective, in 2009, LinkedIn had just 32 million people.” – Mashable
I also read recently that the Social Web has reduced the classic “Six Degrees of Separation” to 4 (Can’t find the reference off-hand.)
In fact, I’d be curious what others have to say on the whole thing. Please Comment. Thanks in advance.
(Side note: I’d be curious to know if insurance companies and agencies are updating their internal Social Tech policies to accommodate this new feature.)
This is a really good article on the feature. Good Comments there as well.
Compelling Headline. I’ll get back to it at the end.
The PIMA 2012 Annual Meeting. On the surface, a big success. Solid numbers, lots of engagement, great feedback.
Some of my take-away’s:
Mary Jane Fortin, CEO of American General Life Companies:
Appreciate the Comments on Usability, Education, Consumer Experience, Plain Language, Japan as a model for consumer protection rates. Man do we have a LOT of work ahead of us if we want to take her challenge to heart. I know there are exceptions, but in general, as an industry, our Web sites are terrible, our communication with current and prospective policy holders is confusing, we don’t create nearly enough content, and so our penetration rates are extremely low by comparison.
Unintended but I heard someone put it, “raked several insurance brands over the coals” from a branding perspective. Heard a lot of people praise him for his content. Agreed on all fronts.
The Ignite sessions:
Lot of high praise from around the group. Great format, engaging content, good choices for speakers. Great work to Rick, Mark, Gerard, and Renee. <<See the pictures here>> Understand a video will be published soon. Especially liked Gerard and the importance of hygiene relative to lists. I’d be interested to know how many people have follow-up with him. Also liked Renee’s content around the ability to do contests and sweepstakes using Mobile – big opportunity for list building and cross-marketing. Again, interested to see how many people follow through and actually start doing something.
So glad HubSpot came. Key points I liked..
Don’t rent your Web properties – OWN!
Blog’s are the cornerstone of your Social Strategy.
Microsites and landing pages are hubs.
Email marketing – still critically important, but will run its course eventually.
Sold Out the Limited Supply of B2B books – encouraging
Inbound Conference in August, possible Boston Social Tech Boot Camp in conjunction with that.
At the closing reception, I had a very interesting conversation with one of the executives about more collaboration within PIMA with an express goal of increasing the protection rates within the US. The comment was that association marketers are perfectly positioned if we will do a better job coordinating our efforts.
Those final words from one of my favorite people in the group spun in my head all day Sunday as I made my way home. So I made some notes on the plane:
Back to the headline
Are PIMA members working to solve industry problems, really, or are they being seduced by big money? Yes, with the utmost respect, they’ve been successful in the past and as a result, big dollars are flowing. But will the processes, tools, and strategies that “got them there” keep them there? Perhaps it’s more about Comfort Zones. But either way…
A few poignant questions, understanding there are exceptions, but from a macro view:
Is our Industry as a whole badly positioned for online reputation management, organizational voice, crowdsourcing, socially directed buying, and the protection and advancement of the industry which these leading business concepts will nurture?
1. Very few industry players seem to be communicating well online, both B2B and B2C. Products seem to be often designed, developed, deployed, and maintained with weak consumer insight. There seems to be very little strategic and thoughtful collaboration between manufacturers, distributors, and strategic marketing partners. Government regulators and internal legal and compliance teams seem to be hopelessly out of touch and uninformed about core societal trends and business issues. Understaffing, underpayment, and inexperience seem to be rampant. Perhaps as a result, but certainly at the same time, US consumer impressions and demand for protection are at record lows. Is our industry leadership woefully behind the times, both individually and corporately, and thus putting the industry at grave risk?
2. Going further, it seems that the majority of industry leaders are at kindergarten, grade school, or at best, high school levels of competency with respect to critically important technologies like mobile, tablet, laptop, and Web software such as browsers, analytics, cloud-based tools, not to mention Social Tech tools. And so their leadership is often whispered as “male, pale, and stale”. Their down-lines and corporate hierarchies seem to be prone to follow suit, ostensibly taking the path of least resistance, waiting for their turn at the top. All this seems to be resulting in paralyzed, deaf, and mute insurance organizations – culturally, operationally, and societally. Generally True or False?
3. Product development and maintenance seems to be silo’d and overrun with fiefdom’s, protectionism, and politics. Marketing machines seem to be entrenched with archaic strategies and tactics, led by executives whose inherent characteristics of creativity and risk-taking have been beaten out of them over time, and who are now without vibrant information streams that keep their fingers on the pulse of their environments. Compliance departments are over-the-top too influential and stunting, themselves not tapping new technologies to keep pace with critically important changes on the legal and regulatory front, certainly not writing, creating content, and seeking to influence and lead.
4. Lastly, our industry, seems to be in need of a deeper, more functional overhaul. Should the association extend its industry leadership, a stronger insurance industry voice with expanding influence, a content machine driving education, conversation and solutions? Should the Web site, while continuing to be a hub for the logistics of the group meetings, etc., also grow to an insurance affinity network, media, and influence hub, possibly powerful enough to overcome any legal and regulatory threat, and helpful in growing the consumer demand for protection products?
IMHO, if we don’t urgently and immediately focus on these core issues in the next 18-24 months, we will look back and regret it. Yes, these are hard questions and strong statements, but I’d like to have these dialogs. But like the insurance exec alluded to, perhaps these are the questions that most urgently need attention so that we can grow our industry and see US protection rates like those of Japan, as an example.
I’ve put this together specifically to give insurance executives a small, private and safe place to grow their IQ with respect to Social. My understanding is fairly deep, both of Social and Insurance. The materials I have are spot-on Keynote slides. And my facilitation style in a small group is open, conversational, and yet passionate and instructional. See the comments and the video on the sub-page.
While not ALL the solution, certainly part of it. Crowdsourcing, Online Reputation Management, Organizational Voice, Rating Systems, Tools, Measurements, Compliance, Policies and Guidelines, Mobile, Information Streams, Consumer Intelligence, Game Dynamics, the Future – all items critically important to the future of insurance companies and agencies. What’s beyond Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc. (although Day 2 will be a 1/2-day session called You Incorporated – because executives need to know how to leverage the tools themselves ala Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos).
Thoughts? Comment below.
I’m hopeful that the 150 or so attendees of the ICMG2012 Annual Meeting who also attended the Breakout on Social Tech will collaborate on a creative twist to a recap of the session. I know many of you are here simply to download the preso, but consider spending an extra cycle right here for the benefit of the group.
Your part: Please post a note in the Comment form below stating your one or two Top Take-Away’s from the Social Tech Breakout Session.
Rather, I’d like readers to hear what the attendees thought and, thereby, possibly develop an interesting mosaic of comments, reflections, and helpful ideas.
Please participate. Like Jim said, “Don’t Lurk!” Even if a previous Comment is on the same theme as yours, add your idea as a reinforcing or expanding sentiment.
Based on the subsequent conversations I had with people on the 18th tee of the golf course as well as the next morning, and with over 150 session attendees, this might be a VERY interesting and fruitful discussion.
Thanks in advance.
PS. The Social Tech Boot Camp for Insurance Executives I’m hosting in March is filling up. A 2nd one is now in the works, possibly hosted by Nationwide, in Columbus, in May/June. I’ll likely do a 3rd in the Fall in Chicago or K.C. You’ll be glad you and/or your boss came – Crowdsourcing, Organizational Voice, Rating Systems, Online Reputation Management, Socially Facilitated Selling (see video), Socially Directed Buying, Tools, Measurement Systems, Rivers of Information – A LOT to cover in 9 hours straight. Get your spot – this isn’t an unlimited opportunity. (Private Boot Camps for your team are also available.)
I recently shared a breakfast at the home of a high-powered, very successful friend of mine. My good friend has a long track-record with a top accounting firm solving all kinds of financial-related business issues for a wide variety of Fortune 1000 companies. But my friend is an executive who is intentionally NOT engaging in any kind of Social Technologies.
Following the conversation on family and personal stuff, we turned to work. Knowing my pursuits, my friend shared thoughts about Social networking. After listening to his perspectives on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., I asked him, “I heard you refer to ‘Social’ in the midst of everything you were saying. Let me ask you a question. When you said ‘Social’, describe what you had in mind? What concepts did the word ‘Social’ bring to mind as you were talking about it?”
He said, “The noise, the clutter, non-important things… you know, Social.”
I clarified, “So water-cooler-type talk… weather, sports, family life, community – that kind of thing?”
“Yes, exactly. I just don’t have time for all that. Like I said, when I’m in work mode, I need to stay as focused as possible on work – no distractions. I see my wife and daughter spending a lot of time on Facebook, and frankly that concerns me. Now I know they might say I spend a lot of time watching TV or playing golf. But I can’t see myself spending my precious free time on Social networks. I hear people talking about Linkedin at work, but it doesn’t seem to be productive. I also know I’ll be asked to help people – not that I don’t want to help people, but if they want my help, all they have to do is call me. I see people using Social Networks to relive the past or trying to get the next new job. Since I don’t want to do either of those, I just don’t see a need to do Social networking.”
Does that sound familiar? The conversation went on from there. I explained that unfortunately, while understandable because of the traditional use of the term, thinking of ‘Social’ Technologies as ‘personal’ or ‘non-essential’, non-business related, etc. etc. is perhaps one of the biggest misnomers in the executive ranks.
[Curious: Do you agree? Are many executives under an incorrect assumption about ‘Social’ technologies as being more about personal, non-essential stuff? Especially in the insurance vertical?]
From a business perspective, Social is NOT ‘Social’. Think UGC – User-Generated Content and all the implications therein – “Crowd” solutions (e.g. Crowdsourcing, Crowdvertising, Crowdfunding), Ratings, Online Reputation Management, professional communities, Social CRM, Rivers of Information, Customer Intel, Revenue on Demand, e-Word-of-Mouth to name a few.
I made a case that in his position, at a bare minimum, he wants to consider what’s called Online Reputation Management. What do people find when they search for him?
Going further, he wants to be thinking about what’s next, what’s beyond the brand and title on his business card? No doubt about it – no matter how successful, both brand and title will inevitably change, won’t they? And when they do, perhaps quite suddenly, will he benefit from a steady effort to build a Social network? Will he correctly understand his Social relevancy in business? And will he be in a position for broader long-term business influence, again beyond his immediate circle with the current brand and its client base?
Lastly, like the MBA process he went through a few years back that lifted his IQ substantially in a short time-span, he wants to consider tapping into brilliant content creators, peers of his that are beyond the faceless Wall Street Journal writers, his preferred info-source. Sure, WSJ writers are no doubt great writers creating a steady stream of great stories. But what about peers of his who are sharing insights and creating dialogs via blogs and Social networks? Could these insights and conversations lift his IQ in a very meaningful and practical way – directly relating to his field?
What do you think? Are Social Technologies a ‘waste of time’? Do many executives in your experience feel that Social is purely Social?
ICMG in Phoenix. #ICMG2012 (You heard it here first: I’m facilitating a 1.5 hour session on Linkedin on Wednesday morning before the Meeting starts. Yeah, I’d rather be playing golf as well, but I was asked, so what could I say.)
PIMA in Palm Coast, Florida. #PIMAAssn Rolling out the rebranding work Bill, Al, Shannon, Denise, Mona, Ed, me and a bunch of others have done in the past year…
Hope to see some of you there.
After a mind-blowing October and November, I’m finally getting back to the Series on how to leverage Linkedin from an enterprise perspective. However, technically-speaking, the last post for ICMG was really along the same conversation. A popular post in terms of views, that post amplified the specific activities for a typical professional to influence and impact their professional environment. Yes, Online Reputation Management (ORM) and Organizational Voice (OV) are both REALLY BIG deals.
You can look at this enterprise topic from multiple angles. Two angles for sure are:
I’d like to shine the light on the latter. Restated, what specific activities can we as the enterprise do to earn engagement and interaction from our Clients, Partners, and Fans, specifically within the Linkedin environment. And how will these efforts payoff in measurable ROI.
A note to readers. If I may be quite direct, as I’ve been saying for the last three years, “Lurking is Lame”. I’ll go further than that now – it’s quite unacceptable to consume only, never Comment, never Share, never add value. Here’s the thing: If you’re going to take the time to absorb content, and if you find it helpful, don’t you see how just walking away without contributing is a bit off? It would be like attending in person a session that someone put effort in to develop, and that you paid for in either time or money, finding value in it, and then simply walking out without even taking the time to acknowledge, stop and thank the speaker, perhaps grab a business card for follow-up, or asking a question or making a comment during the session. So please consider some sort of action – do something with the content you consume. At a bare minimum, if you like the post, Share it. It only takes a few minutes to add value. Make a habit of it. (Btw, that adds to YOUR ORM and OV, right???)
First, what does it mean to “earn” engagement FROM our Clients, Partners, and Fans? I’ll use the analogy of the conference again. Suppose you are a new member of an association and you go to the first couple association meetings. At those meetings, you (and probably your boss) are so excited to be in the presence of all these new, targeted prospects, and driving so hard to justify the expense, that you go up to everyone you meet, introduce yourself, and immediately launch into a pitch about your products and services. So for two meetings in a row, you done nothing but “sell”. No listening to what others do, no volunteering to help the association in some way through your talents, no fostering conversations at the breakfast tables, instead “just sell baby”. Obviously an extreme example (though not really, I’ve seen this recently as I’m sure you have as well), but you get the point. If this were the case, would you reasonably expect anyone in the association to give you any positive props or mentions at any point at all? Probably not.
Now contrast that with the flip side. All you do is listen and volunteer and never mention exactly what you do. So everyone ‘Likes’ you but no one has any idea why you’re there or what you do. Also an extreme example on the other end of the spectrum. Also not appropriate.
Relative to the concept of ‘earned media’, the holy grail lies somewhere in between. That’s the goal, that’s the target. How do we do enough selling/marketing so that people know what we do and we stay top-of-mind for that function (and rank high in search along the way), but we also listen, help, and add value along the way? And what is that balance? I’ve heard it said that you can think of it in terms of a 10:1 ratio – 10 acts of added value for every 1 act of selling.
It’s critically important to understand this point. Earned media is/will be an essential element in the near future of sales and marketing.
What does “Earned Media” look like inside of Linkedin? Here are the spots to look for earned media and mentions. Once you understand the locations, and then combine that with the a for-mentioned concept of sales-versus-valueadd, you’ll quickly get the point. Again these are all Linkedin spots:
These are a few of the hot spots. If you know any others, please Comment.
So what to you do with these and where does earned media come into play?
Obvious caveat: The brand must do a great job in adding value and servicing its clients. “Astroturfing”, or getting your brother-in-law to say something nice about you in spite of poor service, inflated prices, etc., will be discovered and exposed, and will further exacerbate the original problems. Trust that.
Once you have the Company profile in place on Linkedin, be sure to add the tabs that allow you to feature your products and/or services. At that point, in these early days of Linkedin, it’s a simple matter of asking some of your Clients, Partners, and Fans to hit the page and make a Comment. Here’s a great example from HubSpot. Notice the inherent Linkedin functionality associated with the Recommendation and how it reinforces the relevance and influence of the Recommendation. Notice also that there is a Share button on the page. Did you know that brand advocates are 83% more likely to Share a page, all the more so when they’ve engaged with the content in some way, put their personal virtual fingerprints on the page? Do you see how these things work together to create earned media and viral marketing? (see more stories on this here)
We all know that personal Status Updates (aka Shares on your Linkedin Homepage newsfeed) have the potential of being seen by your network. Going further, most know that if your network Likes or Comments on something YOU shared, THEIR network has the potential of seeing it and sharing it – and so on. (I saw one guy who posted a bet he made with his boss that his boss would give him $1 for every Like and Comment he got on a post about the utility of Linkedin. At that point, the guy had the usual couple hundred Connections. Well, his update went viral inside Linkedin. I’m not sure I remember exactly what I last saw or where it sits today, but after a few weeks the guy’s boss owed him SEVERAL THOUSAND bucks.)
As with personal, the same functionality applies to Company Status Updates. The Status Updates are obviously not earned media, but Likes, Comments, and Shares of those updates are. When the Status Updates appear in Followers Newsfeeds, if people are fans of the brand and appreciate the content of the item, there’s a good chance they will Likes, Comments, and/or Shares, especially if they’ve advanced in their Social maturity beyond the previously mentioned lurking stage. Those actions then become the earned media, the holy grail of Social Media Marketing. Nuf said.
Well, that’s all I have time for at this point. I’ll continue the dialog on the finer points of the other seven items next time.
Meantime, I’m greatly looking forward to ICMG first week of February, PIMA the next week, perhaps the ACT Conference, perhaps SWSX in March, and a VERY exclusive Enterprise Social Tech day-long Boot Camp for C-level insurance executives, also in March in Charlotte – a busy Q1.
Again, please Like, Comment, and Share. Let’s see if I can earn some media myself! Thanks in advance. Merry Christmas!!! Emmanuel.