Take Advantage of Social Media Benefits, Brokers Told

Prospects are using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook  to look for insurance information, but many brokers aren’t there to meet them.

The benefits of social media—including low cost marketing and product or service “traction”—are behind networking success stories like Dell, which has sold thousands of computers through Twitter, and Ford, which dedicates 25% of its marketing budget to social media, Rick Morgan, an industry consultant and former insurance agency owner, told brokers at the 2010 P&C Insurance Technology Conference. But insurance companies and brokers aren’t taking advantage of social media’s promise, he said.

A quick poll of the room at Toronto’s Marriott Eaton Centre hotel bore the point:  when Morgan asked who had a Facebook page, most of those who did had personal pages—few insurance carriers or brokers had them for their businesses.

“The [social media] model is about people wanting to find you, and you’ve got to be there,” he said.

Excuses don’t hold water

And many common excuses to keep away from social networking don’t hold water, according to Morgan, who cited concerns over ROI or wasted time as oft-heard broker responses to social media efforts. A lot of those excuses stem from an old way of thinking—about brochures and other traditional forms of marketing, he noted. “That doesn’t work in this world—it’s about building relationships.”

Brokers often used those some arguments when broker management systems and even email came on the scene, he pointed out. But a key difference with social media is that “most of your employees and prospects are out on the web anyway.”

Same business, new tools

He cited research that shows 73% of consumers researching auto insurance did so online in 2009. But that doesn’t mean they bought online—most prefer to look around online, and then talk to a person to complete the transaction, he said. “The business isn’t new, the tools are.”

Consumers are using these tools to take control of how they interact with insurers, and insurers need to take advantage of the opportunity to be in on—and monitor control–of the conversation, he advised them. “The consumer is saying, ‘stop blasting me [with national messages], when I want insurance, I’ll go out and find it.”

Morgan outlined  ways for brokers to join social media, including blogs—“the single best thing you can do,” he said—that can educate consumers about being prepared for disasters and how to recover, and YouTube messages. He noted that brokers can also handle complaints or negative messaging on social media with their own Facebook or Twitter messages.

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