Life Insurance Industry Relevance

Written by: Ron Scheese

Life insurers invest over $5.6 trillion in the US economy, employ more than 2.5 million Americans, hold 20% of all US bonds, pay out $1.5 billion daily and protect over 75 million American families with their products . It is an amazing industry.
I recently attended an industry conference where multiple industry leaders told emotional stories of helping someone at retirement or providing financial security for a vulnerable individual
following the death of a loved one. These were executives who promoted a passion, energy and excitement for their work, their company and their industry. In one-on-one networking conversations throughout the conference, I couldn’t help but be impressed by their commitment and love for the insurance world and the good contributed to society.
However, very little of this energy and excitement is translating to the digital world. While several presentations spoke of technology innovation, disruption, attracting millennials as customers and as future industry talent, I found very little presence on social media espousing this message. So while 650 industry insiders were reached and encouraged, millions are missing the message.

My challenge to industry leaders is to engage on social media and let’s make life insurance relevant in tomorrow’s marketplace!!

Nearly 70% of insurers are already utilizing social media while a majority of others plan to develop a social media strategy in the near future. Among the insurers who are currently leveraging social media, 85% use it primarily for branding and image building.”

-Leveraging Social Media Across the insurance Lifecycle – Capgemini

During this conference, only ten organizations or individuals tweeted anything about the messages or event – 41 total tweets (including 15 of mine) during the entire conference. Less than 2% of industry leaders in attendance are utilizing an inexpensive medium to engage and spread their company  and personal brand. One of the conference sponsors created a hashtag for those of us active on social media, but it wasn’t published on any conference materials or presentation slides. I personally did not begin using the recommended hashtag until I stumbled upon it at the end of day one of the conference. Of the eighteen CEO’s and SVP’s presenting, I could only locate four on Twitter. Of the eighteen organizations represented, I could not find a Twitter presence for five.  Our industry is completely missing an opportunity to share the love, passion, altruism, fun and excitement for insurance that was so evident in our two and a half days together. I’m not suggesting that social media is the sole answer to the challenges facing our industry, but it is an underutilized tool by those trying to increase trust and transparency in our industry. Could it not but help increase the attractiveness of our industry toward future generations?

My Call-to-Action – Take the Leap  I understand you are busy.  You have a large company to run and a very important part of the American economy to uphold. I appreciate the regulatory hurdles and evolving case law on social media usage by such regulated entities. But I would still challenge you to educate yourself about social media and begin to leverage the tool for your business advantage. Several insurance and financial service executives have a tremendous following online, so clearly these hurdles can be overcome.

Twitter provides a great medium to redefine messaging and perceptions. Many students, professionals and entrepreneurs are interested in the day-to-day lives of successful leaders and CEO’s. Twitter provides a venue to reach customers, prospects, current and future employees and industry peers. The world wants to hear from you:  what are your opinions, what are your expectations, how do you react to industry news–are great ways to connect with more and more individuals. Don’t just broadcast, ask questions. The key word is to engage.

A survey conducted by BRANDfog found that nearly three-quarters of US respondents believe that a company whose C-suite executives and leadership team use social media to communicate about core mission, brand values and purpose is more trustworthy.

A couple of tips to get you started:

Prepare yourself: There are plenty of articles and books about the power of social media.  A good place to start would be Eric Qualman’s “Socialnomics.”  Understand the benefits, risks, and limitations of the medium before proceeding. Engage with your marketing department or ask a millennial for perspective and tips.

Activate yourself:  Create an account, start following other business leaders and observe their styles and methods for engaging. Who do you read and listen to on the news? Start by following them. Follow me on Twitter at @RScheese – I promise I’ll follow back.

Pace yourself:  It’s not about the number of followers you can collect, social media is social.  Use it to interact. Listen, ask questions, and respond to questions.  Retweet information your followers would want to know and share your 140-character opinion. Grow into your brand and your message.

Be yourself: You have a brand and a message to share, be authentic. The same passion and energy you shared one-on-one while networking will translate exponentially via digital and social networking.  This is an opportunity to humanize insurance. Don’t worry about looking the fool or saying something wrong; just be genuine.

Ours is a fine and noble industry.  Let’s make sure our message is getting through the noise. My sincere hope is that by the time I return to this conference next year, the insurance industry will be much more engaged on social media; and we will be on the journey to ensure relevance for the products and industry we so love.


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