It’s fair to say that social media plays a significant role in our lives. The numbers don’t lie.
- 8 Billion Facebook Users
- 319 million Twitter Users
- 600 million Instagram Users
- 106 million LinkedIn Users
And while that highlights the extraordinary volume of use within the various social media platforms, it’s when you look beyond the numbers, into the way in which social media and online engagement has transformed our cultures, that really unearths their global impact.
An impact that permeates into every aspect of life and work.
One such cultural aspect that has been significantly impacted by social media is the openness that exists across, often very public, platforms. The sharing of information, details, and data that might, in a bygone age, have been kept somewhat closer to the chest.
At its most base level, this can be those tirelessly tedious Facebook updates about what’s been cooking on the stove, or whether or not it’s ‘wine o’clock’. But, of course, there’s more to an average social media than that. Scroll through the feeds of the major platforms and it soon becomes apparent that social media might be a forum in which we not only share seemingly every detail of our lives, but they also serve as the place from which seek information.
It’s become our primary source of news (where did you learn about the death of David Bowie, Terry Wogan, Princess Leia?). On a more practical level, social media will play a huge role in finding products and services that we use in our daily lives. Which is achieved in a couple of key ways.
- Trusted recommendations, word of mouth, and reviews
- Engaging with a brand through its content
Given, therefore, that we understand how social media has encouraged us to reveal more about our lives than generations past, and that it’s become our primary resource for information and advice; how then, is this likely to impact on the insurance industry?
The Perils of the Sharing Culture?
We’ve spoken before about the integrated use of Big Data into the insurance industry, primarily focused on the way companies can use the extraordinary flood of unstructured data that flows across digital platforms to laser-target customer insight.
However, in a society where the sharing of personal information is done with seeming impunity, does it raise the awkward spectre of liability issues for policy-holders?
Does, for instance, the announcement that you’re going to Mexico for a fortnight – thereby informing the world that your home will be unoccupied for the duration – invalidate a claim against burglary? How does such an announcement tally with a policy’s requirement that the holder take ‘all reasonable care’ to protect their property?
Furthermore, in such a social media dominated culture, was this an issue raised or discussed at the time of the sale?
Communicating with your clients
Fundamentally, however, social media is the platform from which insurers and brokers need to reach out to their clients.
If we are all using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other platforms to seek information and clarity about the products and services we’re seeking to purchase, then it stands to reason that insurers and brokers will find value in utilising these sources.
It’s basic brand awareness strategy.
Social media – regardless of the platform – offers those who work within the industry to communicate and engage with clients in ways that were unavailable to them in times gone by. Providing companies with the means to deliver speedier response times to queries, to gain greater insight into the needs and wishes of the client-base, and to promote a positive image for your brand – brands that have established, positive images are more likely to become trusted names that consumers will purchase from.
So, how can this be best achieved?
- Social Media as a listening platform – the first step to successful sales is understanding customer needs. If our customers are sharing information online then we need to be listening. There can be an almost endless mine of information available to ensure accuracy in customer insight; from developing niche schemes, to analysing any engagements your clients may be having with your competitors.
- Focusing on the social – Social media also encourages us to engage with our clients in a much less corporate way than we might traditionally. Having staff post about their personal exploits (the charity yomp up Ben Nevis, or the Red Nose Day bake-off), through official company profiles can personalise the business; enhancing employer brand. It’s the old adage that people buy from people. There’s no harm reminding your client base that you’re a business populated by humans.
- Relevant Content – Remember that scenario where posting about your holiday on social media could impact on your home insurance? Sounds like a good piece of advice that the insurer could relay over the social networks. Tips, advice, and insight into the industry in which you operate, keeps your profile high, and encourages a sense that you’re an authority within the industry. Someone to be trusted, and happy to advise, assist and help when needed.
- Responsive Customer Service – Social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (particularly Messenger) offers the chance for quick, responsive and direct addressing of customer service queries. A means of by-passing interminable automated phone-calls, and the dreaded ‘your call is important to us’ messages. The digital world places value in responsiveness – it’s an instant access environment, be it entertainment, or ‘one-click’ online purchasing. Fast response customer service can be a high value item when winning trust in a social media world.