There’s an old saying that pioneers get the arrows, and settlers get the land. This seems to be the attitude among many in the insurance industry with regards to social media. It’s only been in the last 6 months that we’ve started to some real initiatives by agents, brokers, and insurers. While the momentum has picked up in the US, there still seems to be a fair amount of inertia in Canada. The attitude seems to be, “There’s no rush. We can catch up when we really see the business case.”
Our limited experience is that the new phenomenon of Social Media is disruptive with external and internal relationships, and there may be some real urgency. We blogged earlier of the misalignment between consumer expectations and the response of financial institutions with regards on-line presence and capabilities. It can also be internally disruptive. In April, we noted that the data expectations of marketers have increased dramatically with the rise of social media, and IT has to learn to keep up with the marketers, or risk being left behind while the marketers turn to outsourced services (creating internal integration challenges).
So what? Anyone can get a twitter account and start a blog, if the pressure is on, right? To put the underlying elements in perspective, we recently ran across a presentation that Progressive’s Web Experience Director, Matt Lehman did at a conference in 2009. Matt was giving a summation of work they had been doing for over a year to address issues like the relevance of various media to specific functions, methods to track the massive volumes of data, how to work with compliance issues, what are key customer service and agent/broker issues, and where to find the best places to start. Not easy stuff, and not stuff that’s generally easy to get through an insurance organization’s project vetting mechanism. The point is, that at least one organization got beyond these issues two years ago.
And for anyone who is struggling with how to build an ROI calculation for social media initiatives, it’s either heartening or discouraging to hear Matt’s response at about minute 26 of the video. Seems that the arrow wounds had healed nicely by the time he spoke, and these pioneers were settling well on the land.