Penn Mutual Extols Benefits of Social Media

Social media tools help the insurance group play both offense and defense with clients, experts say

Penn Mutual Life Insurance said Thursday that it had hit an important milestone in its work with Hearsay Social, a provider of social-media platforms, which could serve as a case study in how financial firms can rapidly and comprehensively embrace new technology.

“We have a roughly 50% adoption rate of Hearsay Social among our registered reps, and that is great for us,” said Robert Bonsall, assistant vice president of interactive marketing at Penn Mutual, in an interview. “We’ve been really pushing it.”

That’s not necessarily what some might expect would be the case for a 167-year-old insurance firm.

“It’s interesting. Companies with a long legacy of building businesses and client relations, like us, are embracing technology. We are being very progressive in how we enable advisors with tools like Hearsay Social,” Bonsall explained.

Penn Mutual worked with another social media vendor but switched to Hearsay to move “from the defensive aspect of being compliant by monitoring social media to being both compliant and engaging with consumers – playing defense and offense,” he said.

“With the Hearsay platform, we got a robust set of tools so advisors easily get up to speed and are able to share content daily with clients,” Bonsall added. “Plus, they can also get information on life events that serve as a good lead source with news on marriage, babies, etc. Then, our 500 agents have warmer lead lists to contact.”

Social Lessons

That’s the playbook Hearsay Social hopes its clients follow.

“People are broadcasting [news] via social media,” said Gary Liu, vice president of Hearsay Social, in an interview. “They are telling advisors, rather than the advisor having to go find out through other channels in order to help clients.”

This is powerful information for both keeping and adding clients, he notes.

“Within the advisor marketplace, one thing that is interesting to keep in mind comes from the 2013 Accenture survey of advisors in which 77% said social media has helped them better retain clients and stay on top of mind,” Liu explained.

“With relevant content, advisors can be current. That’s important, so clients — when they need to be thinking of you — have a reason to pick up the phone as their situations change,” he added.

Practice Makes Perfect

Hearsay Social provides its clients, like Penn Mutual, with what it calls a customer success management program. This includes training for advisors, both in person and online.

The vendor also does quarterly business reviews “to analyze who is successful, what advisors’ engagement and posting rates are, what they are doing that brings them success, what their overall sharing statistics” are across the organization, according to Liu.

“This is what makes advisors and agents say, “I can do that do too and succeed as well.”

As for Penn Mutual, this type of feedback is powerful, since it motivates advisors to take their social media performance seriously.

“Reps like to see other reps being successful at social media, and we want to publicize and celebrate this more, too,” Bonsall said.

What’s up next up for the company? “We want to start a Hearsay Social pilot program for our non-registered reps and other life-insurance agents,” he added.

Such steps should prove positive for both expanding the client base, and — both executives hope — for recruiting younger agents. 

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