Recent surveys in Canada and the USA appear to indicate that there is significant use of social media in the P&C insurance industry � carriers and broker/independent agent distributors.
The summer 2011 surveys by Insurance-Canada.ca about the use of social media by individuals in P&C insurers and in the P&C Broker/Agent channels indicated that LinkedIn was by far the tool of choice although about 45% of the respondents did not use social media at all.
Twitter and Facebook were about even in usage at about half that of LinkedIn, but brokers and agents tended to use these more than people from carriers.
Communicating Partners in Social Media
If social business is still all about people communicating with people, but in this case for business purposes, then who do insurance people communicate with? A second survey provided some insight.
The first two groups are people in other firms but within the insurance community, only slightly ahead of fellow employees.
Virtually tied for third and fourth are that most important group � insurance customers and prospects � and somewhat surprisingly those in other forms outside the insurance space.
Finally special interest groups lead the general public as a group � perhaps few have determined how to tackle marketing and general advertising in the social space.
With this Canadian perspective, the following notes are from two IVANS studies of US carriers and agents (se sources at end).
Social Networking in P&C Insurance in the USA
LinkedIn and Facebook are overwhelmingly the most popular social networking tools among property-casualty carriers surveyed. Fifty percent of respondents are using LinkedIn and almost 49 percent are relying on Facebook as a daily business tool for communication, even though a return on investment is difficult to measure for both. Interestingly, 52 percent of agents surveyed by IVANS in another study said they do not engage in social media and, of those who do, only 14 percent use it to enhance customer service, citing lack of resources and having to compete with carriers for customer attention as major barriers.
The survey findings indicate that for property-casualty carriers and agents to realize the full potential of social networking, they need to develop joint social media strategies that cultivate customer relationships and improve agent-carrier communication. The strategies also need to communicate thought leadership while provide guidance on privacy and security issues. Doing so creates a consistent message that will further strengthen the brand, and lead to greater business growth for both.
See IVANS 2011 Carrier Automation Trends Survey for an expansion of this detail.
As in Canada the top three social media channels are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Comparing the percentage use of probably not on as the US studies are targeted at the use by Businesses, rather than the use by individuals from businesses for business purposes. The �do not use� response is significantly more common in Canada.
Social Media: A Partnership Approach (IVANS Study)
In a rapidly changing technological environment, the need for agency-carrier automation technologies is clear, but what is not as evident is the optimum role of social media. With the growing influence of this medium among consumers, we asked agents about their use of this technology tool. About 38 percent of agents say they do not engage in social media and have no plans to do so. Of those that do use social media, about 28 percent say they are passively maintaining a presence, 27 percent say they use it for marketing purposes and 14 percent use it to provide enhanced customer service.
Agents and Social Networking Tools
Again, look at the source of this information – IVANS 2011 Insurance Agents, Carriers & Technology Survey � for a few more details. A future Canadian study may well help compare the intent of social media use here.
The challenges of an individual organization (insurer or broker) using social media successfully are not small; the challenges of a set of brokers and a set of companies doing it as well are somewhat larger.
Doug Grant, Principal, Insurance-Canada.ca, Social Business, Oct 2011
IVANS 2011 Carrier Automation Trends Survey Property & Casualty
IVANS 2011 Insurance Agents, Carriers & Technology Survey Property & Casualty
How much is Insurance into social media? Mini-survey by Insurance-Canada.ca
Who Communicates with whom? Mini-survey by Insurance-Canada.ca