by Kat Macaulay
When a catastrophic incident occurs, the sharing of vital information in real time is of utmost importance – especially for insurers, who are often on the front lines of support. Social media has become one of the most effective methods for connecting policyholders with their insurers in times of need, and carriers and brokers are wise to have an official strategy in place.
The recent Fort McMurray forest fire and 2013 Alberta floods are clear examples of how social media is changing disaster response. Following the mandatory evacuation in Fort McMurray, residents, officials and Canadians from coast-to-coast looked to social media to share news and stay apprised of the situation. From Twitter feeds and Facebook groups, to trending hashtags such as #ymmfire, there was no shortage of fire and insurance news
via social media.
“We have a comprehensive playbook for any catastrophic event on standby, which includes a social media strategy for our TD Insurance Twitter and Facebook platforms,” says Crystal Jongeward, manager of Corporate & Public Affairs at TD Bank Group. “Our key focus has been to ensure our customers are safe and informed and reassured that they have a trusted place to seek advice and support. Twitter and Facebook were our main platforms and used Facebook Messenger for more complex, private or personal questions our customers had for us.”
The Insurance Bureau of Canada also utilized their online assets, immediately setting up a splash page, sharing links, pinning information and creating visuals that consumers could share across multiple platforms. They have also been constantly monitoring feeds and keywords to glean insights as to their contents’ reach, as well as to nip incorrect information in the bud.
“When a situation like this happens, our networks become a good pulse of what consumers are saying,” says Steve Kee, director of Media & Digital Communications at IBC. “It’s become an important avenue for us to directly communicate with them in a rapidly changing environment.”
John Bordignon of State Farm has witnessed first-hand the hyper pace at which technology changes. In his 10 years with the carrier, the use of social media, video and instant connectivity have become the rule, not the exception.
“We are on social media because our customers are there,” he says. “We need to communicate in the ways that they are comfortable communicating and it’s important that we offer ways that they can connect with us 24/7.”
Here are five major takeaways for carriers and brokers looking to implement a social media strategy:
4 Ways insurers can get social with customer service
- Have a crisis communication plan: The key is to be proactive. External communications during a disaster is critical, and it’s expected that social media is integrated into that mix. Who will take the lead? What kinds of information are you sharing? Who will update your website? How will you monitor, track and analyze that information?
- Implementation: Have a timeline of when you will kick your crisis plan into gear. How will you put things in place? What kind of resources will you need?
- Monitoring: How will you watch what’s happening online and take action? As was the case with IBC, monitoring keywords and commentary online can provide useful insights, which you can turn into useful content for your clients.
- Be consistent: Set the tone for your interactions. If you plan to be available 24/7, work on a plan to maintain consistency or be clear on when you will be available.
- Be fast but factual. Each group interviewed focused on getting consumers the best information, quickly and efficiently.