Covid-19 has accelerated online shopping and customer convenience has become critical. But even before COVID, Wolt, Zoom, and current consumer habits, all the signs were there, way before the race for digitalization. In fact, shortly after the emergence of social media in 2003-2004, businesses realized its potential and started using it for marketing and business purposes.
Since then, social media has taken over traditional media to a point where today 90% of businesses use it as their core marketing and customer engagement platform. But today we’re so consumed with digitalization that we forgot the basics behind ‘social’.
Social media and digitalization have a common goal – to enable engaging and sharing information on a personal level. As insurance carriers, we can provide a holistic experience for all stakeholders, stepping back from features, applications, centricity, insights, and all that jazz. Instead, we should focus on the value customers look for when interacting on a social platform.
The Social Needs behind Social Media
Understanding, empathy, relatedness, comfort, and a sense of belonging are some of what we look for in social media. And the more time we spend on screens, the more time we spend alone, and the greater our need for social interaction and a sense of belonging.
This is why social media communities flourish. They fill a social void, allowing us to express ourselves, and receive and provide support anywhere, anytime. Social media communities have come to replace local physical communities, uniting people from across the world around values, experiences, opinions, and beliefs.
Digitization as Part of Social Media
Social media is often defined as a collective term for websites and applications that focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content-sharing, and collaboration. We use social media to engage through screens, and digitalization creates a customer engagement platform that focuses on products and services. Just as in social media, the goal is to engage with customers and share relevant information on a personal level.
Contrary to traditional media where communication is a ‘one-way street’ from the insurance company to its customers, social media has opened up two-way communication channels. Today we can contact companies publicly and easily access service providers, insurance companies, retailers, and any entity with an online presence. Accessibility is no longer a one-on-one phone call, but a public form of communication where a customer’s review or complaint can make or break. In many ways, social media has passed control over to the customers, and customer interaction has evolved to an ‘eye-level’ engagement where both parties share not just information and data but opinions, needs, and experiences.
Understanding by Glocalizing
We’re obsessed with personalization, but what about glocalization? This is when a brand utilizes not just personalized content, but also localizes it based on the customer’s location, neighborhood, or local culture. Glocalizing allows a global insurance company to complement personalized content with referrals to their local branch, representative, or neighborhood drugstore that has the relevant insurance coverage. The result of a good glocal strategy is that customers feel their insurance carrier understands them, is familiar with their surroundings, and is there for them.
Why Social Media for Insurance?
More and more insurance social media communities and groups are gaining momentum. Whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, or specific social communities for insurance agents for insurance professionals, or consumers, almost everyone is taking part in an insurance social media group where common dilemmas, thoughts, and needs are shared. This is where we gain a broader perspective on issues and learn from others’ experiences. Taking part in this larger collective provides a sense of strength and belonging, especially when facing cumbersome and complex insurance issues.
Using social media, the insurance market which is perceived as old and complicated can re-invent itself, breaking many traditional rules and behaviors. As an insurance carrier, don’t expect customers to adhere to your agents, site, or language. Rather, meet your customers where they spend most of their time. Provide them with new capabilities such as easy localization, dialogue, gamification, and even the creation of sub-communities and allow them to positively engage in consuming insurance offerings. Doing so removes barriers between vendors and consumers, ensuring partnership, better customer experience and retention, and improved sales.
Ilan Buganim is the chief technology and information officer at Sapiens