Las Vegas — Twitter and other social media services can be useful for health insurance agents and brokers who are looking for new ways to track the news and share ideas.
Kevin Roberts, the outgoing president of the Golden Gate Association of Health Underwriters, gave that assessment Wednesday during an interview at the annual convention of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), Washington.
Twitter runs a website that gives users a quick, easy way to post a stream of short text messages on the Internet. The maximum length of a post is 140 characters. The short, no-frills format makes tweets relatively easy to post from just about any mobile phone that has some Internet access.
NAHU itself posts regular tweet s about its activities.
Roberts, who tweets under the handle BrokerManCA, is one of several active NAHU leaders who is especially visible as a source of tweets about news of interest to health insurance producers. He was trying to “live tweet” from the convention, for example, before signal problems at the convention site, the Wynn Las Vegas, got in the way.
Roberts now has about 824 followers, or Twitter subscribers, including some other active NAHU members who have become regular Twitter users.
Roberts signed up for a Twitter account about two years ago and began actively tweeting 18 months ago. He also uses LinkedIn, FourSquare and other social media sites and often cross posts the same message, or similar messages, to multiple services.
Roberts said he started out using Twitter mainly as a tool to follow news about personal interests, such as baseball and baking.
He later developed a list of about 100 Twitter feeds of interest to health insurance producers and other health policy followers. The list generates many items each day.
Twitter is “a great place to be in the current of what’s happening in the moment,” Roberts said. “Because Twitter tends to be enabled by younger people, I think it also gives me a look into the future.”
Roberts tries to search for reasonably neutral keywords, to find tweeters who take a reasonably balanced approach to news about hot, controversial topics such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and a California health insurance rate review bill.