LIMRA study reveals dramatic uptick as companies strive for competitive edge
WINDSOR, Conn., Jan. 31, 2012 — Nearly 8 in 10 insurance companies currently engage in social media; another 18 percent plan to use social media within the next 12 months, according to a recent LIMRA study.
“Obviously, social media is changing the way we all communicate. Life insurers are no exception,” said Todd Silverhart, corporate vice president, LIMRA Markets and Technology research. “In the past, companies used their social media activity to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Now — with half of all U.S. adults using social media — it is becoming a requirement for doing business. Those companies not on board may be passed over by consumers and find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.”
LIMRA’s study, Getting Social: Using Social Media to Support Business Strategies, found companies are using social media primarily to expand brand awareness. Maintaining relationships and building community are key objectives as well. Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube are the top three platforms used currently by companies, with Twitter close behind. Almost half of the companies said they will be looking at Google+ within the next 12 months.
As the saying goes, “familiarity breeds comfort,” which is true for social media use in the financial services industry. LIMRA’s 2011 study revealed that more companies are feeling confident in how to incorporate social media into their business strategies than in 2010 (chart). Fewer companies were as concerned with compliance issues and PR and branding matters; and there was clearly more awareness of social media from the top down. The biggest challenge facing insurers seems to be having enough personnel to manage and populate its social media platforms. Almost half of companies – nearly 60 percent more than in 2010 - listed a lack of human resources as a top challenge in 2011.
The study also found that companies with the most active social media programs created a cross-functional team to manage their social media program. While marketing generally has primary responsibility, HR, compliance, IT and customer service, were among the functional areas represented as well. LIMRA researchers suggest that this collaborative model is the best way to leverage the maximum benefit from social media.
LIMRA leads the industry in research and knowledge about social media use in the financial services industry. Providing the winning strategies and best practices, LIMRA helps its members implement a smart social media strategy that will allow them to successfully leverage social media into their day-to-day businesses. To learn more, please attend the 2012 Social Media Conference for Financial Services, on Aug. 22-24, in Boston, Mass.
LIMRA is a worldwide research, consulting and professional development organization that helps more than 850 insurance and financial services companies in 73 countries increase their marketing and distribution effectiveness. Visit LIMRA at www.limra.com.