Last December, I had the pleasure of speaking at the annual Insurance Executive Conference. Our session focused on how the insurance industry should be thinking about the ways social media platforms might transform how this industry relates to, and communicates with, our audiences. Based on the discussion we had that day, here are 10 key considerations as you ponder how you build your policies moving forward.
Don’t just react to regulation; develop proactive, commonsense policies
Last year, Peppercomm co-hosted a roundtable with PRWeek in which we discussed the current regulatory environment. FINRA requires companies keep track of all their online marketing/communications. The FTC requires that, if anyone who has a material connection with an organization is talking about said company (or competitors), they need to provide proper disclosure of that relationship. And the NLRB has been issuing guidance increasingly indicating that employees and other professionals should have a reasonable right to talk about their professional lives online. This can produce a nebulous environment to communicate in; but it also indicates that companies need to develop strategies that ultimately strike a balance among the tugs of compliance, transparency, and employee rights.
Use social media primarily as a listening tool
No matter the regulatory walls you face, proactive listening is an area our organizations should be investing in deeply. What are the issues your company is trying to own from a thought leadership perspective? What are some of the issues about which you want to understand public sentiment? What are your target audiences talking about the 99.99% of the time they aren’t talking about you? Use the open nature of online communication to keep track of those discussions, and ensure that those insights are circulated around your organization. There’s much to be learned from the conversation outside our walls.
Prioritize answering your customers’ needs
When people come to your official presence, it is often because they want or need something. You want to make sure you respect their needs. Social media is a place for two-way dialogue. There are many good regulatory reasons why insurance companies can’t answer certain questions in such a public setting. But rapid response is crucial here. We’ve worked with organizations ranging from utility companies to appliance manufacturers to put in place real-time responses to people’s service issues. The challenges can be daunting for doing the same in the insurance setting, but look at MetLife’s development of a 2-hour response policy to customer issues via social media as an example for how insurance companies can build policies that prioritize answering customers’ needs.