5 social media lessons from some of the world’s most successful insurance companies

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I recently traveled to Chicago to support Gregory FCA President Joe Anthony at The Business Development Institute’s Financial Services Social Business Leadership Forum where Joe presented: “The New Communications Paradigm in Financial Services: The Penn Mutual Case Study.”

In his presentation, Joe shared how client Penn Mutual, as a 167 year-old insurance institution, established an integrated communications program that leverages media relations, social media, content marketing, and advisor communications to deploy the company’s strategic narrative.

In addition to Joe’s case study, the conference also showcased social media techniques from a number of large insurance companies, including Bankers Life and Casualty; Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company; Zurich Insurance Group; and Northern Trust—in addition to Actiance—a leader in social media compliance solutions.

Here are some of the most important takeaways:

Research. Plan. Analyze. Repeat.

Varun Parekh at Bankers Life and Casualty hammered these points when sharing his company’s success in developing a new, mobile strategy. Parekh shared the importance of dedicated and thorough planning when embarking on any novel technology—an ethos that led Bankers through a successful development process and launch.

Stay consistent and on message with an editorial calendar.

Actiance’s Director of Social Strategy, Phil Gerbyshak, spoke of a tool that we use to manage our client’s social media programs everyday—the editorial calendar. In the new age of media and communications, editorial calendars may seem antiquated, however nothing keeps a company’s messaging on-point like having a plan and sticking to it.

Phil Gerbyshak also noted the importance of allowing for flexibility in reacting and responding to news as it breaks. According to Gerbyshak 70% of all social activity should be responsive to news and 30% should be original content.

Listen, learn, and become more efficient.

Kristen Schmid, director of digital marketing for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, presented one of my favorite case studies of the day with her story of Fireman’s Fund’s ground up social program build. When Schmid was tasked with establishing her company’s social presence, the first thing she did was invest in a social listening tool. With the insight gained, Schmid was able identify those social networks that presented the biggest opportunity for Fireman’s Fund, and channel the firm’s attention and resources to maximize efficiency.

Moreover, Schmid wasn’t afraid to experiment. She invested in a successful pilot social ad campaign and recommended opening social media to Fireman Fund’s agent force as a means to better connect with clients in times of crisis or need (also hugely successful). But perhaps most importantly, Schmid recognized social media as a powerful tool to drive the company’s narrative, using Fireman’s Fund’s work as a way to tell powerful stories, through both traditional and social media channels.

Keep your communications fun and interesting!

Inspired by a handy tip from by Steve Jobs, Stephani Gordon of Zurich Insurance spoke of using lively, unconventional, and ever-changing presentation methods—a strategy that cannot be underscored enough when seeking to drive presentation engagement and interest.

With content — recycle, reuse, replicate.

In the final presentation of the day, a number of colleagues from Northern Trust took the stage to discuss, in a round-table format, strategies and trends surrounding the company’s social media programs. Chief among their copious advice, the Northern Trust team spoke about the importance of leveraging content—a strategy Gregory FCA loves to instill with our clients. If an organization has subject matter experts (SMEs) who can, do, or are willing to produce content, the company had better be leveraging it. SMEs are the lifeblood of any company’s product or service offerings, and a firm that can effectively communicate its experts’ thoughts, strategies, and ideas is better positioned to connect in a meaningful context with customers and prospects.