Tag Archives: social media

Want to See Social Media Genius?

Over the weekend, Korean pop made news because fans supposedly helped bait the Trump campaign into overestimating by an order of magnitude the number of people who would show up for a rally in Tulsa, Okla. No matter how big the actual effect, K-pop can serve as an exemplar for insurers and agents as we all try to figure out how to engage with clients more often and increase their affinity for our brands.

Yes, there will have to be considerable translation — and not just from Korean to English — to bring ideas from K-pop’s outreach into our industry. Insurance customers would never even want to hear from companies and agents as often as K-pop fans engage with the idols — “idol” being an official term for a K-pop group member.

But K-pop is very much an industry, with “factories” that create idol groups from among the thousands of youngsters who sign up for several years of training on how to sing and dance and on how an idol should act. And the interactions with the fan base are carefully and skillfully designed.

Now, no insurance company will ever get 750,000 fans to simultaneously do anything, as the most popular K-pop group, BTS, did with a live, pay-per-view concert last week — my daughters stayed up to watch from 2am to 4am California time. But let’s take off our insurance hats for a moment, look at the sorts of outreach BTS does and see if we can’t be a bit more creative about what insurance clients might appreciate.

The group of seven young men, ranging in age from 22 to 27, have released four albums in two years, an aggressive schedule. But it’s the steady stream of creative ways they interact with fans in between albums that stands out for me. Since my younger daughter found time to indulge her BTS fan-dom — when her law school classes went online and her side gig as a waitress in the D.C. area was put on hold — I’m sure a week hasn’t gone by without some lengthy bit of new material. Sometimes, it seems that barely a day goes by.

In their seven years as a group, BTS has produced more than 100 episodes of Run BTS, a sort of variety show where they do things like bungee jumping or competing at a water park. The videos are engaging on their own, despite the need for subtitles for those many of us who don’t speak Korean, while letting fans see the individual personalities in ways that can’t always come across in the group’s highly choreographed, elaborate shows.

Members of the group appear regularly on a live streaming app where they may, for instance, talk to the camera about what’s going on in their lives or may answer fans’ questions. There’s nothing slick about the production values. A recent one showed two members sitting in a kitchen trying to figure out how to make gimbap, a traditional dish akin to sushi rolls that their moms made for them growing up. That’s it. But fans love the videos. (An American singer learned one day that a song he had released a while ago had popped to the top of the iTunes charts in South Korea. What was going on? A BTS member had sung the song on one of the live streams. That’s all it took.)

BTS recycles old material creatively, too. For instance, the group “held” a festival in April that replayed eight of their concerts from 2014 to 2018.

The group leans into social causes, as well. For instance, BTS donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter causes — fans almost instantly raised a matching amount, then an individual fan, pro wrestler and actor John Cena, added a further $1 million. This week, the group announced that it was donating an additional $1 million to a cause helping those whose work at concert venues has been canceled by the pandemic. BTS, and K-pop in general, have become so identified with social causes that fans in the U.S. identified hashtags associated with white supremacy and flooded them with K-pop videos to drown out expressions of hate in the wake of George Floyd’s death. (The New York Times detailed the K-pop activism this week.)

If BTS itself ever posts a photo on Twitter, well, look out: There could easily be two million likes.

The steady interactions with fans have produced unprecedented popularity for a K-pop group. They were not only invited to appear on the YouTube “graduation ceremony” in early June, alongside the Obamas and others, but were given two large blocks of time, first so each of the seven could offer thoughts to the graduates and then to perform three songs.

Of course, that sort of exposure just feeds more popularity. When BTS released a single a few days ago, called “Stay Gold,” it instantly went to the top of the iTunes charts in more than 80 countries. BTS’s last four albums have hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, a Herculean feat given that songs in Korean get so little radio play in the U.S., and radio play is such a big factor for Billboard.

How can insurers match BTS?

They can’t, not even if Greg Case, Brian Duperreault or some other executive sings and dances a whole lot better than I know. But it seems to me that there are still lessons that can be learned from the group’s outreach, about the benefits of continual (welcomed) communication, about the different possibilities presented by various media and about the lack of need for great production values, even from the industry heavyweights.

In personal lines, I imagine that health and auto insurance present the greatest opportunities.

During this pandemic, especially, there are loads of reasons for my health insurer to be keeping me updated about what’s being learned about how the coronavirus is spread, what preventive measures I can take, what therapies are showing promise, how many cases are being found in or near my ZIP code, etc. I already gather that sort of information on my own, but I’d certainly welcome an occasional email from my health insurer that promised me updates. I might well click through to a video that illustrated some key point or to a brief Ask Me Anything-style post, whether in word form or just as a Zoom-style recording of some expert sitting in her living room answering questions I might have. Nothing fancy needed: just some good information delivered periodically.

Al Lewis delivers through Quizzify the sorts of updates I’m imagining; his employer clients send monthly trivia quizzes that educate employees about COVID and other current topics, as well as broader healthcare issues, both to help employees and to keep them from undergoing unnecessary care that can cost employers dearly. But, as far as I can tell, health insurers could be doing a lot more.

My auto insurer has kept me updated about premium credits as long as mileage plunged for months, but why not also tell me about how quickly driving is picking up, what the new version of rush hour looks like and is likely to look like, etc.? Auto insurers might run out of topics much faster than health insurers, but there are still event-based communications that I’d welcome. For instance, I relied on personal experience when teaching my daughters to drive, but surely there is a host of collected wisdom that an insurer knows about and that could have been flagged to me as soon as a teen showed up on my insurance. Again, the advice could have taken a variety of forms, many of them low-cost, along the lines of an Ask Me Anything — perhaps augmented by a slick video designed to scare the bejeezus out of kids about all the bad things that their phones can suck them into doing.

The same sort of email/social/video outreach could work in small commercial lines, too, especially at a time of so much uncertainty. Think a pizza parlor or small retailer wouldn’t welcome a stream of advice, with the promise of additional resources, on how to reopen while protecting customers and employers? Think they wouldn’t welcome help thinking through all the workers’ compensation issues that are floating around?

The really good agents and brokers are, of course, pulling together all sorts of advice and providing it to clients in our current health and economic crisis. But it seems to me that the advice outreach could be much more systematic, could be organized more by the insurers so that more agents can provide top-notch service and should be set to extend long after the crisis passes.

So, think BTS. You’ll never be as popular as they are. But think about the language barriers they overcame while establishing links straight into the hearts and minds of so many, and take heart.

As the latest single says in its opening:

In a world where you feel cold
You gotta stay gold

Stay safe. And stay gold.


P.S. Here are the six articles I’d like to highlight from the past week:

We Are Open for Business; Now What?

Expectations for success continue to rise as more businesses reopen with safety as a top priority.

Keys to ‘Intelligent Automation’

Combining robotic process automation and machine learning, IA accomplishes the end-to-end automation of business processes.

Insurance Innovation — Alive and Kicking

An abundance of startups shows the industry adopting a two-speed strategy, around speed of operation and speed of innovation.

3-Step Framework to Manage COVID Risk

Insurers need a comprehensive yet customizable approach to assess operational risk quickly and dynamically and chart responses to COVID-19.

Epic Policy Failure on Contractors

California is making a mess as courts, the legislature and possibly voters sort out who qualifies as an employee and who as a contractor.

Loss Prevention or a Trojan Horse?

“Ecospheres of prevention” sound great, but they may just be a way for insurers to use, say, leak detection devices to gain leverage on clients.

How Social Selling Can Boost Results

Not that long ago, people didn’t have information at their fingertips, and businesses were successful in using outbound sales and marketing methods such as cold calling and email blasts to close sales.

Today, the buyer’s journey has changed thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and other advancements in technology. Now, 57% of the purchase journey is completed before a customer has contacted a business (according to CEB), and 67% of the buyer’s journey is done digitally (SiriusDecisions).

The rise of social media has encouraged organizations to look into ways that they can use the technology, which has led to the development of social selling. 

What are the benefits that social selling offers? 

1. It appeals to the modern buyer

B2B buyers have 12 to 18 non-human and human interactions along their buyer’s journey (Sirius Decisions), and 68% of buyers prefer to research products and services online (Forrester). It’s essential that you develop and push information and content on social channels that resonate with your target audience and provide the solution to their problems. 

This will enable you to influence their choices and position your business as front of mind. 

2. It allows you to build “real” relationships

How many cold calls do you actually answer, listen to and respond to? 

It’s time for businesses to break down the barriers around selling and get on the same page as their customers. Social selling supports this as, through social media listening tools, you’re able to listen to topics and conversations that are relevant to the insurance and risk management industry.

Added to this, a survey from IBM revealed that only 43% of consumers trust the insurance industry, and the lack of trust in insurance providers has remained above 50% since 2007. Social selling helps you build trust among your audiences by giving you insight into what’s important to your prospects and presenting new opportunities and leads. 

3. Your competitors are already using social selling

71% of all sales professionals are already using social selling tools, so if you aren’t you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage (LinkedIn). A report by ITDS revealed that 100% of insurance firms are active on LinkedIn.

According to a study by Capgemini, 22% of insurance policyholders cite social media conversations and interactions as having the highest impact on their purchasing processes. This ranks above the influence of the advice of friends and family, which only 17% of policyholders indicated as most important.

4. The Mere Exposure Effect 

The Mere Exposure Effect was first spoken about in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. This social phenomenon states that the more a person is exposed to something, the more the person will develop a preference toward that thing over time.

Social media lets businesses tap into this theory through regular and consistent posting and updates. When you’ve created and put into action a dedicated strategy, you can begin to use social media channels to your advantage and ensure that you have messages trickling through all the channels that your audiences use, creating multiple touch points with them.

See also: 7 Business Models of the Future for Insurers  

If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail…

To successfully leverage social selling, you need to optimize your social channels to showcase your expertise. For example, research from LinkedIn revealed that members with a photo receive 21X more profile views and nine times more connection requests compared with those that don’t.

So, what do you need to do to give a positive first impression on your social channels?

Here are my top tips: 

  • Post a professional head and shoulders image of yourself 
  • Write your bio/summary to highlight your expertise and what you do on a professional level
  • Include links to your website and other social channels to encourage visits 
  • Use hashtags that your prospects follow
  • Create lists on Twitter to monitor content from specific accounts 
  • On LinkedIn, include your job title and keywords in your headline, ask for recommendations to boost your credibility and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and begin networking in them 

Social selling best practices

Once your profiles are ready to be rolled out, it’s time to kick off your social selling strategy. 

Dedicate yourself

Start by creating a plan and setting aside time to dedicate yourself to building your social presence. Being present on multiple social channels can be time-consuming, but if you spend 30 minutes every day monitoring your channels, engaging with others and posting content it’ll help ease the pressures and ensure your feeds are always up to date. 

Create and stick to a content plan 

The purpose of a content plan is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging and sustainable content that engages, resonates and attracts your target audience. In today’s social web environment, getting the right message to the right customer at the right time is crucial. To stay front of mind, build rapport and trust and position yourself as an expert, you’ll need to have a solid content plan in place. 

Take advantage of social listening

Create and use social lists and monitoring streams to collate what people are saying about you, your company, your industry and competitors, and identify what questions they’re asking and topics they are talking about. 

Maintain relationships once you’ve created them 

Once you’ve made connections, it’s important to stay engaged with them. So, comment on and like the content that is posted by your prospects. 

Be sure to offer advice and guidance to them and contribute to their conversations in a meaningful way if they ask questions.

Share testimonials 

Success stories from other customers have a lot of weight, and research from Pretty Links suggests 92% of buyers trust recommendations from peers, and 70% trust recommendations from strangers.

By gaining and sharing third-party testimonials, you’ll start to build your credibility with prospects, and it’s more likely that they’ll begin to trust your business.

See also: Business Models, Moats and Startups  

Track engagement 

Tracking metrics such as likes, comments and shares will allow you to identify the types of content that resonates the most with your audience. And, it’ll enable you to determine if your social selling activities are paying off.

Understand when to take your connections offline 

To land a sale, you’ll need to escalate the connection with a prospect by offering a call to continue the conversation offline and on a deeper level. It’s important not to push a call before prospects are ready. 

Research revealed that the dollar value of the opportunities for insurance companies to drive results through social media is over $15 million a month (Marketing Tech).

9 Social Do’s and Don’ts for Agents

Social media can be a great tool for insurance agents. It can help connect them with current and potential customers, grow their network of industry colleagues and share and be aware of timely information that affects their business. However, being active on social media as a professional is easier said than done, for both new and experienced users alike.

Our team has outlined some key do’s and don’ts that agents should keep in mind:

DON’T disclose anything proprietary. It’s imperative that agents understand what is confidential when referring to their clients. You also don’t want to give away any trade secrets, your business growth strategy or the names of your partners that would give competitors a leg up.

DO use case studies on social media. They can be a great way to illustrate a point or show how you were able to bring a creative solution to a client problem. Just make sure the case study is generic, broad and doesn’t mention any participants specifically.

See also: Important Perspective for Insurance Agents  

DON’T use inappropriate language. Curse words are a given to steer clear of, but the importance of the language you use extends far beyond that. Make sure the language you use is concise and clear and, what’s more, that what you say is tailored to your audience. Using too much industry jargon and posting about things that your audience can’t relate to will alienate readers. Lastly, don’t be self-promotional or sales-y – for example, capitalizing on selling your flood insurance program after a natural disaster.

DO present yourself as a thought leader. Providing industry expertise by sharing timely articles on industry news and trends and commenting in a smart way on others’ posts when you can will set you apart on social media. Be timely and provide quality content – not just fluff. Give your audience something that is useful to them and, when appropriate, invite them to respond to what you post with a call to action, such as signing up for a webinar you’re hosting or joining you at a local networking event.

DO interact with your network. It can be intimidating at first to put yourself out there and interact with your network, but doing so is an important part of maximizing the potential of social media. Liking, commenting and sharing posts that you see in your newsfeed or that are posted by colleagues are the easiest ways to interact with your network. In turn, be sure to respond to those who comment on your posts.

DON’T let negative comments or posts linger. Arguably even more important than responding to positive interactions on social media is addressing the negative. While your first reaction may be to ignore a negative comment or post, knowing when and how to address them makes the situation much less daunting. First, always respond in a timely manner – but make sure you have your thoughts together and don’t respond brashly. Second, take the conversation offline as soon as possible. This can be as easy as responding with a polite comment and offering a direct number. It’s also important to recognize that each negative comment should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis – there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

DO measure your social media activity. Agents should have metrics in place so they can measure against true success on social – likes and follows don’t always mean success! One key way to do this is to be knowledgeable about engagement rates. For example, it’s much more meaningful to know how many people have seen your content and are taking an action on what you share (i.e. liking, commenting, sharing) – or, better yet, navigating to your website! – than if you’ve added one or two followers.

DO stay authentic. Independent insurance agents are based on community – the more you can be active on social media, the more you’ll raise engagement with your brand as a professional and with your business. That being said, show personality. People want an agent who is a human, not a social media robot.

See also: Find Your Voice as an Insurance Agent  

DON’T get intimidated. Social media is somewhat intimidating to independent insurance agents, in general, especially the ones who aren’t as familiar with social media and who are older. Regardless of age, don’t hesitate to get started. This is vitally important because, to be successful in today’s world, you have to meet your customers where they are. Ramping up your activity level on social media can be slow – break things down into manageable tasks. For example, start by spending 20 minutes per week on the platform connecting with people or sharing an article, or liking or commenting on three posts.

This article is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide individualized business, insurance or legal advice. It is not intended to be a substitute or replacement of any workplace policy on the subject matter.

Directive Communication Systems’ Lee Poskanzer

Lee Poskanzer, CEO and Founder of Directive Communication Systems, talks with ITL CEO Wayne Allen about the growth of digital assets and why access to these are at risk of being lost in estate planning without specific legally compliant steps to protect them for heirs. DCS, he says, aims to make this process easier for individuals to decide which assets—from social media, cloud storage, bank accounts and more—should be passed on and to whom..before it’s too late.

View more Innovation Executive videos

Learn more about Innovator’s Edge

A Scary Future for Life Insurance?

Web users, especially business owners, already have plenty of good reasons to be careful with what they put online. Shifts in public perception, the increasing threat of data leaks and continual attempts to steal your identity might be enough. However, new state rules for New York’s insurance companies could highlight another worrying trend. What you post could affect your premiums.

It’s already legal for insurance companies, including life insurance and business protection insurance providers, to use public data to decide what you pay. From credit scores to court records and now including your Twitter feed, they can effectively use nearly anything they want to set insurance prices.

Now, however, New York is taking a bold step forward as the first step to codify the practice. Discrimination by race, sexual orientation, faith and other protected classes is still illegal, but the use of personal data to inform insurance decisions is a trend that many are worried other states will follow.

See also: New Efficiencies in Life Insurance  

Your data is just another way for insurance companies to measure your risk and make more efficient decisions. Regulations are designed to keep the needs of the companies and their customers both satisfied, but many are concerned that it’s just giving the providers license to be more invasive when deciding premium rates. Your rates aren’t only decided by what information you fill out; examinations are reaching further and deeper into our data than ever.

The automation of the industry is making it easier to collect and collate data from many sources, but there’s always a human involved in the judgment, and many are concerned that business protection and life insurance providers expose too much.

Social media use in setting insurance premiums isn’t commonplace, yet. Only one of 160 insurers in New York use it, but “big data” is spreading across industries, showing the power of using data from diverse sources. At the moment, social media is used to determine falsehoods in applications, but there’s no reason it can’t be used in ways that customers might consider more invasive. And while discrimination is prohibited, some fear there’s nothing to stop providers from doing deeper dives. In many cases, the deeper you look into anyone, the more likely you are to uncover something that could be used to raise their premiums.

Algorithms may seem impartial, but they are designed by humans with all of their own biases. One textbook example is COMPAS, which predicted where crime would occur based on criminal justice data from the U.S. The tool vastly overestimated rates of recidivism for black defendants while underestimating the same risk for white defendants.

This trend of using social media data might not be widespread just yet, but there are justified fears that social media surveillance and investigation will become more common as reliance on the technology spreads. As such, it may be even harder for customers to see what affects their premiums, as much of it could be determined by big data gathering information from dozens of sources and obscure algorithms used to highlight risk factors.

This risk of surveillance, even if it has no application in reality, affects how we use the internet. A trend toward “deleting Facebook” arose shortly after its sizable data breach last year. Data-sharing from sites and businesses of all kinds has seen use of virtual private networks (VPNs) skyrocketing. This might seem prudent, at first, but if our social media use is being so closely monitored, then we’re less likely to use those platforms to talk and associate freely.

The issue isn’t just in the data we share, but also the data we consume. If a business protection insurance provider looks at who you follow on Instagram, what’s to stop it from deciding premiums based on whether you follow high-risk individuals, even if you are not a high-risk individual yourself? The same goes for health and life insurance companies, which could raise premiums because someone is seen as a higher risk because they are part of suicide prevention groups on Facebook.

Business are already under great scrutiny for their social media, mostly by customers, which is justifiable. However, when it comes to business protection insurance and key man insurance, the premiums for protecting the people and assets most important to your business’s growth could be rising for reasons that are more obscure than most will be able to work out. We don’t know how far into your posting history insurance providers can go in their search for data, so it’s best to create a strong social media policy as soon as possible.

The law is always slow to catch up on technology. While many fear that the wheels may not turn in time for smart, context-driven regulation, other solutions are being looked for. Some want broad restrictions on the ability of insurance providers to use public information, while others are fighting for great transparency. Some consider it of utmost important that insurance companies be clear with what data drives their premium setting, as well as when new algorithms and data sources are used to adjust them.

See also: How to Resuscitate Life Insurance 

However, insurance companies have a vested interest in protecting their algorithms and how, exactly, they find their premiums. Protection of trade secrets and other intellectual property is part of what keeps them competitive. Furthermore, if the widespread ignoring of terms and conditions on the internet shows anything, it’s that notices of new algorithms may not register with the majority of customers. Most people simply don’t understand the technology that could be used against them.

More detailed regulations, such as a need for algorithmic impact assessment, are looked at as another potential solution. In answering questions that find out the data that insurance providers use, why they use it, what they test and whether they have tested the system for bias, discrimination could be halted in its tracks. The insurance industry and its customers rely on the ability to use the data available to set premiums based on risk level. However, the threat of discrimination is driving concerns.