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Social Media Policy and the Insurer: Aligned or Self-destructive?

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A colleague of ours recently related a story which reminded us that we are still talking from both sides of our mouth when it comes to using social media. We’re wondering how prevalent this situation is and what you think can or should be done.

What’s good for the goose might not make it to the gander …

Our friend, who works at a mid-sized Canadian insurer, was in a meeting to discuss a new social media initiative to increase engagement with brokers and customers. A number of strategies were in play, including use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

After a time, one of the participants interrupted the discussion and said, “You realize that most of our own employees wouldn’t be able access this stuff at work, don’t you?” He went on to remind the meeting attendees that according to policy of the company, the majority of non-managerial personnel were restricted from accessing social media over the corporate network.

Awkward.

 This is a business problem ….

There is little question that all of the benefits and most of the challenges relating to social media are business, not technology, related.  We have followed hits and misses in this space for a while, and there are no big wins or losses that are the result of technology.  It’s all content and use.

Customers are increasingly relying on social media for recommendations on products and services.  Marketers are monitoring social media to determine trends, and using social media to support product and service campaigns.  Adjusters are using social media in claims.  All business.

So why are we restricting access by our own workers?  IT policy is frequently cited.  But this is usually driven by a concern that people will ‘waste time’ on social media.

We have seen this problem before …

Back in the early days of the commercial Internet, access to the Web was restricted.  There was concern that staff would waste time surfing the web.  They might even look for porn sites.

And before that, when personal computers were first introduced, managers felt it important to walk around and look at the screens in case someone had secretly loaded a computer game.

Seriously.

The reality is these opportunities still exist, but we have stopped worrying about them.  We have bigger fish to fry.

What’s needed is leadership …

Kristen Corpolongo, writing in Information Week makes the point that modern leaders should bee leading the use of social media in order to encourage innovation: “The harmonious conclusion of social business is producing a better product or service that makes a positive impact on people’s lives. An open leader uses collaboration tools to engage with other leaders and employees within an organization to bring this about.”

Corpolongo cites a recent Gartner study which found that successful social media use requires employee participation which can only be encouraged, not commanded.  Corpolongo concludes:   “With a strategic approach and a shift toward open leadership, organizations can be truly social and gain all the advantages as such.”

What do you think?

Are you seeing resistance by senior- or mid-level managers to use of social media?  What is the response from the front line?  Conversely, do you know of success stories from leaders?

Be social and let us know.

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