Initial concerns about the
compliance issues surrounding the use of social networking sites in
life insurance marketing have given way to the recognition that
Facebook, Linked-
In and other networks are here to stay.

Picture of the Twitter logoThe
inevitability of social media as a force for reaching out to three
critical components of the life industry – producers, consumers and
employees – have let to a veritable explosion in the use of the

“Insurers may have been late to the
social media party, but they are certainly engaged now,” said Todd
Silverhart, a director of technology in marketing and distribution
research at financial industry research organisation LIMRA.

Silverhart was discussing with
LII the preliminary results from a new social media survey
of life insurance companies that the association did this year.

Silverhart said the survey found
80% of insurers surveyed are actively or tentatively on social
media sites, with many operating multiple channels around different
audiences, product sets and demographic slices.

“Insurers are using social media
technologies primarily to help producers with lead generation and
community building,” said Silverhart.

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“There is broad recognition that
this is no longer a fad, that social networking is here to

“From a marketers’ perspective
there once was concern about what percentage of the market was
online, but now there is an understanding that almost everybody is
online and so the question becomes more about how insurers get to
this breathtaking level of engagement and get even a piece of


Buying habits

Silverhart continued that the
embrace of social networking also reflects the insurance industry’s
recognition that the ways consumers purchase insurance is

“Today’s insurance consumer is
doing a lot of online shopping, and they include a lot of online
communication in their decision making process,” he said.

“This means that they increasingly
turn to their social networks for recommendations and advice, and
there is a real opportunity to talk to these consumers online in
the social networks.”

Compliance concerns remain, with
the biggest challenges revolving around issues of archiving
electronic communications, protecting against inappropriate
promises and the electronic solicitation of testimonials.

“Without any specific rules out
there, it’s really tough,” Silverhart stressed.

“Insurers have figured out a way to
deal with the issues that were bothering them here. Negative posts,
for example, are an opportunity to take something into another
channel and educate.”

MassMutual is one such insurer. The
company recently launched a new Facebook campaign, ‘Why Life
Insurance?’, designed to confront common barriers and start
families across America thinking about their financial futures.

This social media effort enlists
the help of kids to underscore the importance of life insurance and
was developed in part to address an industry-wide challenge: the
record low in life insurance ownership in the US.

The campaign features a series of
videos featuring children taking control of the discussion by
questioning a life insurance agent and quizzing adults on their
knowledge of the topic. MassMutual’s Facebook fans will also have
links to financial resources, helpful tips and a platform to engage
in real-time conversation.

The ‘Why Life Insurance?’ page was
developed and executed through a collaborative programme involving
MassMutual’s advertising agency of record, Mullen, in cooperation
with Genuine Interactive.

The campaign confronts common
barriers to life insurance ownership in a no-nonsense, head-on
tone, tackling such subjects as the anxiety that comes with
discussing death, prioritising financial responsibilities and
dispelling the notion that life insurance can be expensive. The
content is refreshingly candid, and is designed to start
conversations rather than push product.

In one spot, a predictably adorable
child swipes his father’s spare change as dad returns home from a
day at the office, and then shows up at a MassMutual agent’s office
clutching a plastic bag full of coins.

“I have this month’s premium,” he

“So you parents still don’t think
they can afford life insurance?” asks the agent.

“Sometimes parents just don’t
learn,” the kid responds, handing over the bag of change.

The exit tag: “They can’t do it for
themselves. But if they could, they would.”

MassMutual senior vice-president
and chief marketing officer John Chandler explained the campaign
evolved from a daylong meeting with Mullen about the digital

“We were thinking, really just
brainstorming about the digital space, and at the same time, we had
this societal issue about the lack of insurance ownership, so we
saw it as starting conversations,” Chandler said.

“The social networks are just the
best, most cost-effective way to have that kind of

Chandler said the humorous yet
educational tone reflect MassMutual’s desire to address issues
larger then mere sales.

“Social media grew as a personal
vehicle, and we are very conscious of respecting the network and
its tone. We didn’t want to come off like a bunch of corporate
stiffs,” Chandler said.

“The underlying message here is
that if a child can figure it out, it is pretty elemental.”


Different evaluation

MassMutual also takes a different
approach to evaluating its social network presence, said

“A lot of programmes obsessively
count likes or leads,” he said.

“Our goal was to foster the
conversation, and so we are monitoring much more closely the number
of people talking on our Facebook page.

“We have been as high as 10% of the
‘likes’ of our page talking at one time, and that, to us, is a much
more meaningful statistic.”

For now, Chandler said, the site
offers an ideal listening post for MassMutual.

“The beauty of these comments are
that it helps us perfect tonality, hone our message, how we
perceive customer need,” he said.

“We see it as a listening tool, and
we like the fact that we are addressing a much broader societal
issue that we all need to work on.

“The social networks are just
incredibly powerful for this kind of conversation.”

Charles Davis