August 17, 2015
#InsuranceMarketing: How to Use Hashtags
Insurers have caught on to the hashtag trend to bolster their brands, share topics and feed aspirations -- but some are better than others.
The hashtag phenomenon dates back to 2007, when Twitter launched a tool that allowed users to search and share topics by using the # symbol. Since then, the symbol has gone mainstream, and you will commonly find it in other social media sites, such as Instagram and Vine.
Insurance companies caught on to the trend and incorporated hashtags into their digital strategies, adding humor, wordplay and aspirational connotations.
Insurance Entertainment benchmarked seven hashtags used by insurance companies to provide some insight into how hashtags can be best used:
#DreamFearlessly by American Family
#ThinkSafe by Travelers
#SummerIsMayhem by Allstate
#MakeSafeHappen by Nationwide
#BeTheJake by State Farm
#InFlovation by Progressive
#GeckoPhilosophy by Geico
The hashtags fall into two categories: 1) branded hashtags, which refer to the brand directly or indirectly (e.g. #InFlovation), and 2) interest-based hashtags, which speak to shared topics (e.g. #ThinkSafe). Some companies use Twitter to position themselves as aspirational brands by building communities around shared values.
Here’s the bird’s-eye-view of who’s doing what and why:
Geico and Progressive, for example, opt for “branded hashtags,” while American Family and Nationwide promote “interest-based hashtags” in an attempt to target like-minded individuals.
7. Geico – #GeckoPhilosophy
#InspirationalQuotes are abundant, shareable and, generally speaking, positive. Geico took notice and added the Gecko flavor to its version of inspirational quotes, forming what is known as the #GeckoPhilosophy. Geico gets an A for creativity but a C for execution, as the tweets are often dull on screen. The idea has merit and is an example of a branded hashtag, tailored to the audience on social media, which in the long run may see more pickup by users.
6. Progressive – #InFlovation
#InFlovation is Progressive’s playful take on innovation and Flo.
Similar to Geico’s #GeckoPhilosophy, it’s a branded hashtag targeting those who enjoy interaction with Flo. By the way, at this time, Flo does not make public appearances. Someone asked. Progressive answered.
5. State Farm – #BeTheJake
Another branded hashtag around the real Jake from State Farm.
4. Nationwide – #MakeSafeHappen
Nationwide’s marketing team drew some heat for its Super Bowl ad featuring a “dead boy” with the tagline #MakeSafeHappen. But let’s face it, the #1 cause of childhood deaths is preventable accidents, and you know that thanks to Nationwide. So, aside from completely reshuffling its marketing team, the company “stands behind the commercial and the message.”
Since then, #MakeSafeHappen has taken a less controversial route, but not without consequences: MakeSafeHappen.com desktop traffic tumbled to an all-time low of approximately 1,000 monthly visits compared with 85,000 when the ad premiered. Better safe than sorry?
3. Allstate – #SummerIsMayhem
Mayhem is the third most-recognized insurance advertising character, behind the Geico gecko and Flo. With more than 79,000 Twitter followers for @Mayhem compared with about 61,000 for @Allstate, it is obvious why Mayhem’s dark humor is an integral part of Allstate’s digital strategy.
2. Travelers – #ThinkSafe
Surprise. An insurance company posting safety tips.
There is actually more to this strategy than meets the eye. Aside from its relevant and practical content, albeit dry at times, Travelers is also looking out for its independent agents by producing content they can easily share. Travelers gets an A for thoughtfulness, an F for entertainment.
1. American Family – #DreamFearlessly
American Family has one of the best brand extensions an insurance company can hope for. In the land of cost savings by Geico, price comparison by Progressive and 3:00am customer service by State Farm, nothing says different like American Family. A slogan turned interest-based hashtag, #DreamFearlessly is a branding initiative that allows American Family to move away from functional attributes and create an aspirational brand.
There is one caveat, though – which is true of all interest-based hashtags. They are not exclusive. While they do generate more reach, sometimes the tweets have very little to do with the insurance brand seeking to be associated with that message. So while #InFlovation offers a direct association to Progressive, interest-based hashtags such as #ThinkSafe, #MakeSafeHappen and #DreamFearlessly require a bigger marketing push. The outcome, once successful, is worth it.
In sum, hashtags are only as great as one’s offline strategy (American Family, Travelers); there is no harm in plain fun (Progressive, Geico, State Farm); and never underestimate the size of the fight in the dog (Nationwide). After all, there are no low talkers on social media.
Bottom Line: In a zero-sum game, the score is American Family (1), Geico (-1).