Insurance in Plain English

Reaching the next generation of insurance consumers

Archive for April 2010

The accidental social media presence

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A recent post from the insurance brains over at Celent addressed some of the latest features on the most popular social networks—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter—that are making it all but impossible for businesses to avoid getting involved in the new mediums.

The mantra of social media aficionados is that people are already talking about your business; if you choose not to get involved in the conversation, you lose your voice. And it’s true—all it takes it one angry client to sully your business’s name on the web to start a tidal wave.

So why not put to you ear to the ground? Listening is your first step to controlling your presence on the net, particularly in social media, and there are a number of different tools for this. See if you show up on Google’s Social Search. Monitor Twitter accounts of folks in the insurance industry (@IJournal and @RiskMgmt are two to start on). Set up Google alerts, the greatest gift to public relations from the search engine gods.

Stop making excuses and do your research. This type of “listening” is the key first step in developing your social media presence.

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Written by melissa

April 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Insurance, Social media

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I fail at Foursquare

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I confess: I fail at Foursquare.

Just two short weeks ago, I signed up for what seemed to me to be the coolest social media trend going. I’d been getting frequent updates via Twitter from friends, stating their locations, their latest badges, saying that they’d become the mayor of the local Wendy’s??! What?

So being game for trying out new technology, I signed up. And, in earnest, I dove into Foursquare. I checked in. I added locations. I even became the mayor of my office (though it was a hollow victory—none of my colleagues use the application).

I was praised by some friends and chided by others. Foursquare usage is a real partisan issue—you either love it or it hate it. I tried not be annoying about it, checking in only once or twice a day, as opposed to every time I moved to a different room.

But my love affair with Foursquare has dwindled. I forget to check in. I don’t make an effort to see if the venue I’m at is listed. The passion’s just not there.

Despite predictions otherwise, location-tagging applications are expected to become even more popular. So the domination of Foursquare may be inevitable.

Maybe I’ll keep trying, maybe I’ll check in every now and again. But my prediction for my own use? There’ll be a new mayor at workplace before you know it.

P.S. If you’re looking for a laugh at Foursquare’s expense, be sure to check out the Foursquare Cops.

Written by melissa

April 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Social media

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Insurance agents are naturals at social media

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Inspired by this recent article from the Insurance Journal, I find myself asking the question, “Why do insurance agents seem so scared by social media and new networking technologies?”

Newer technologies can be intimidating, for sure. Understanding the value of Twitter vs. LinkedIn vs. Facebook takes some research and, frankly, some acclimation.

But agents need not fear dipping their toes into Web 2.0. You already have the most important skills necessary for success.

  • Agents are natural networkers. Social networks are no different from traditional, offline networks, just with easier access. Think of LinkedIn as your new business card exchange, Twitter as your quick update to an old colleague.
  • Agents earn trust. Insurance is a business that is based on trust, between agent and client. It’s the same story on the social web—users like to follow sources that they trust for useful information. Be honest, forthright and consistent in your messages.

Those in the industry need to experiment, test the waters and discover how to best make these tools work for them. It’s essential for doing business in today’s environment. Other smart people agree with me. And there are many examples of agents out there to emulate.

Check out Amy Bryan, founder of Bryan Insurance, New Windsor, N.Y., discussing her presence in the social media space with the Insurance Journal.

Written by melissa

April 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Insurance, Social media

Tagged with ,

It’s all a matter of trust

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There’s a reason why the Bad Pitch blog exists: lazy public relations professionals.

Media relations, in particular, gets a terrible rap, especially when you talk to journalists. There have been a host of articles on this subject, from public relations and journalism professionals alike, but it all can be boiled down to one thing: trust.

Without spending the time to develop solid, trusting relationships with the media, you risk being on the outside looking in. Think about it- how often do you delete strange e-mails, marked “spam,” from senders you don’t know? It’s the same story on the other side of the newsroom, exacerbated even more by the crunch in the industry.

Here are some ideas for building relationships with your target media:

  • Get to know your media. I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT pick up the phone until you’ve done some research. Find out everything you can about your target media.  Doing your homework is vital; know exactly who to call for specific topics. If you have no luck, call up an editorial assistant and inquire about who covers what.
  • Make contact. Don’t let your first contact with a reporter be when you need something; offer your help first. This can be as simple as sending a note to a reporter, suggesting he or she contact you when working on a story in your area of expertise. Offer relevant topic ideas. Make a journalist’s job easier- they are busy folks.
  • Keep in touch. Send a reporter links to news stories that may be of interest. When working with local media, offer suggestions for how to make national issues have a local spin. Comment on a journalist’s blog, send an e-mail about a recent story, stay interested in his or her work.

There’s a good reason the word “relations” is right there in the title of this field- it’s all about developing relationships. Whether that’s with the community at large or targeted media, it all comes down to being a trusted resource for your audience.

Written by melissa

April 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm