A recently published Insurance-Canada.ca report, summarizes studies of social media usage by insurance professionals within Canada and the US, and finds that the two environments have similar characteristics, and challenges, but some notable differences in penetration of activity, with Canada falling somewhat behind. It also provides some key information on who communicates with whom in Canada, finding that prospects are lower on the list than colleagues or customers.
The report, “Social Networking in P&C Insurance: Canada and USA,” authored by Insurance-Canada.ca principal Doug Grant and available on-line on the Insurance-Canada.ca website, is based on several on-line surveys conducted in the summer of 2011 by Insurance-Canada.ca. The US information comes from and recent reports published by IVANS, the US based insurance industry network solutions provider. Both environments includes insurers and distributors in the response groups.
In Canada, the survey asked: With whom you communicate? For both insurers and agents/brokers, the most communications are with people within other companies in the industry. In second place for agents/brokers (third place for insurers), are customers. Third place for brokers (second for insurers) are people in the same company. Apparent prospecting activity comes in next. Brokers and agents are somewhat more interested in people in the wider community of business and special interest groups.
In both the US and Canada, LinkedIn seems to be a leading social medium for insurance professionals . However, professionals in the US seem to be have a somewhat higher use of Facebook. For both groups, Twitter is a strong third place in the rankings. Significantly, the ‘Do not use Social Media’ response was higher in Canada then in the US.
The IVANS studies note that there are opportunities for carriers and independent agents to create common strategies: “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.”
This would seem to be logical in Canada as well. Grant provides a cautionary note: “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.”