Accenture’s report: High performance in insurance with social media.

Image courtesy of shutterstock

Image courtesy of shutterstock

As I have a keen interest in social media for financial services I’ve been looking at the Accenture’s paper on “Achieving high performance in insurance through social media”.

It’s a great statement of intent by one of the major international consultancies, and another example that social media is now being embraced by more traditional corporate and business markets.

Accenture’s paper examines the trends in social media and highlights that insurers seeking high performance  should consider using social media within their customer, channel and workforce strategies. The paper also describes an approach for insurers to utilise social media to input into strategies for marketing, sales, services and recruitment.

With regards to inbound marketing, the useful statistic cited is that marketers who incorporate social media into their inbound marketing mix tend to spend 60% less per lead on average compared to traditional marketing methods.

But why should insurers bother to take note of social media? Three main reasons are cited in the paper:

  1. Social media helps customers pick through the high volume of information available online because they trust “people like me”, ie, other customers, to give honest, accurate information.
  2. Social consumers use social networks as their core navigation and search tool rather than search engines or portals.
  3. Social media is being used more and more by businesses as part of their overall strategy.

As the paper points out, “social media increasingly determines who customers trust” and Accenture highlight the  importance of establishing “Listening Posts”, or what we term social media monitoring,  so that insurers are aware of the online conversations that are happening around them. The paper also discusses the best “social media management framework”, or  social media strategy, for success, which consists of process, people, policies, and metrics.

It’s a considered and articulate paper that is probably targeted at large insurance businesses that need external help to establish their social media enterprise framework. It is notably absent of case studies, and while there are some interesting statistics in this well-researched paper, I suspect that key decision-makers in this industry will continue to look for more detailed ROI data to justify their budget spend.

I also feel the paper doesn’t really address the “hub-and-spoke” social media model as a means of being proactive in social media (i.e. a central social ‘hub’ that is part of the insurers website while also engaging with the social ‘spokes’,  like Twitter forums and blogs, where the other relevant influential conversations are taking place) .

What is interesting is that Accenture’s paper is less bullish in addressing the many positive benefits of a proactive social media programme, and that is probably as it should be given that it reflects the risk-averse culture of a cautious industry that is coming to terms with open customer dialog.