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Insurance Industry Facebook Latest Rankings – USAA, Progressive, American Family top the list; 20,000 New Fans this month

August 13, 2009

The latest Insurance Facebook Monthly Review uses the same methodology as previously albeit with minor additional tweaks to collect ever-increasing amounts of information.  

The methodology includes:

  • Ease of finding the company presence – All too often, there are too many confusing options resulting from a Facebook search, many use the company logo and name. We look for an obvious company page including the use of a simple URL e.g. http://www.facebook.com/statefarm.
  • Extent of Content – This ranges from a very simple page through to quite extensive, almost parallel online websites. USAA and Progressive are great examples to view.
  • Use of Corporate Branding – We look for use of logo, acknowledgement that this was the official Facebook page, correct corporate address and telephone, company bios etc.
  • Use of Video – Facebook can be a visual medium and most company post videos, most often of commercials but some, such as AllState go further.
  • Integration to other ‘outposts’ – Facebook is not a standalone presence so should link to alternative channels. Here we looked for links to agent locators, twitter pages, corporate websites etc. Progressive, esurance, Thrivent Financial and American Family are all strong.
  • Options to request quotes – While, this is not part of the business plan for all companies, it could be argued that this is home to more computer-comfortable users who might prefer to self-serve quotes. While this factor has a low weighting, it was nonetheless a useful metric to collect. Progressive and Travelers are best here.
  • Fan base –Why does anyone become a fan of an Insurance company? Presumably to become a repetitive visitor and are an implied reference. There must be up to date content that will attract users to become fans so this is an important factor.

New Additions

Three new entrants entered the Facebook stakes this month, as Facebook becomes a critical outpost for insurance companies. The new Facebook pages belonged to:

  • New York Life,
  • Pacific Life and
  • Progressive Motorcycle

Stop press – since this article was released Liberty Mutual contacted us to announce their new Facebook page. Given their recent aggressive Twitter campaign and an excellent community blog, watch out for developments from Liberty Mutual.

Progressive Insurance already hosts an active Facebook page but have elected to communicate to motorcycle customers separately, possibly using Facebook for micro-marketing. Impressively, Progressive Motorcycle signed up over 1000 fans in that short time.  The main Progressive page hosts 4500 fans, an increase of 680 over the month.

Key Takeaways – Fan Base

  • AFLAC continues to have, by far, the biggest fan base for the industry but as the focus of attraction for the page is the Aflac duck; their overall rating is not as high. The AFLAC fan base is now over 136,000 and would offer an excellent channel assuming that this people are interested in insurance products.
  • The top insurance companies added almost 20,000 fans in the month
  • The increase in fan base in the last month alone across major companies is a staggering 28% representing a rapidly growing marketing base.
  • The biggest growth in fan base was AFLAC at 8913, USAA (+3970), Progressive Motorcycle (+1012), State Farm Insurance (+962) and American Family (+869).
  • The highest percentage fan base growth, (tends to suggest a concerted fan acquisition campaign) came from The Hartford (+163%), State Farm (+35%), American Family (+33%), and Thrivent Financial (+33%). The Hartford experienced a similar increase in Twitter followers last month so watch out for new social media strategy.
  • Esurnace (+19), Nationwide (+147) and Travelers (+8) experienced a comparitive stall in fan acquisition. always possible after initial excitment in social media. 

Fan Base Leaders

Company June July Adds Percent Increase
AFLAC 127225 136138 8913 7%
USAA 23650 27620 3970 17%
Geico 5285 5827 542 10%
Progressive Insurance 3864 4544 680 18%
State Farm Insurance 2756 3718 962 35%
American Family 2659 3528 869 33%
Nationwide 1631 1778 147 9%
Allstate 1082 1386 304 28%
Progressive Motorcycle 0 1012 1012  
Thrivent Financial 600 795 195 33%
Principal 600 680 80 13%
Westfield Insurance 395 450 55 14%
The Hartford 152 399 247 163%
Esurance 341 360 19 6%
Travelers Insurance 268 276 8 3%
Amica Mutual 110 123 13 12%
Mutual of Omaha 56 77 21 38%
Pacific Life 0 44 44  
NewYorkLife 0 30 30  

Facebook Rating

Fan base is not, on its own, the only critical objective. It remains to be seen just how many AFLAC duck fans create a positive business impact. The Facebook Rating takes into account the level of insurance focus, thus attracting a business-positive fan base. Using all of the factors listed above to access the Facebook business presence and impact, the leaders are:

  1. USAA
  2. Progressive Insurance
  3. American Family
  4. Thrivent Financial
  5. State Farm Insurance
  6. Geico
  7. Nationwide
  8. The Hartford
  9. Esurance
  10. Allstate
  11. Westfield Insurance
  12. AFLAC
  13. Progressive Motorcycle
  14. Travelers Insurance
  15. Mutual of Omaha
  16. Pacific Life
  17. NewYorkLife

 Key Rating Takeaways

  • AllState has developed a comprehensive presence but seems to have focused recruitment efforts to twitter, where they had a very strong month.
  • Progressive spent a lot of effort launching the motorcycle page , and did see a lower recruitment rate on their main page
  • USAA use Twitter to drive readers to their facebook page and seem focused on building a large loyal following in both locations
  • New York Life and Pacific life created their first pages and while they do not have a very ambiguous strategy, they are creating a staging post.
  • Principal Financial Group and Amica Mutual have have built Facebook pages focused entirely on internal careers and recruitment.

There has been an increase in agent and agency Facebook pages, resulting in some confusion from company searches. Many agents use social networking as a natural extension of their activities and help ‘spread the word’ but the growing confusion with brand identity may result. The screen below shows results from searching for Ameriprise, none of which point to an official page.

 

Ameriprise Facebook Search

Ameriprise Facebook Search

 What is the Role of Facebook for Insurance Carriers?

There is no clear single strategy, which could be copied, or regarded as current best practice. High fan bases (AFLAC/Geico) could be motivated more on the cuteness of the duck and Geeko and while these images advance marketing goals, it does little to exploit the unique features of social media. Facebook is mostly used to push occasional news announcements and respond to messages from customers (fans). The online content is varied but most companies post video advertisements, links to websites, and basic information. Less frequently, agent locators, quote engines and product-orientated content is found but is the exception to date.

Many companies adopt a more whimsical or light approach on Facebook and promote fun brand images, events, sponsorships – few currently adopt a strictly business approach.

Some of the typical wall announcements are:

  • AFLAC – Sponsorship promotions and news about the ducks ‘summer vacation’ (just visited Paris)
  • AllState – Links to blog based video content such as safety tips and community pages – part od co-ordinated social media strategy
  • State Farm – Sponsored events, news items –gets higher than average positive fan comments, mostly positive
  • Progressive – News announcements and ‘Flo’ (Progressive ad personality) image building
  • New York Life – Strictly business, website links, little new content
  • Nationwide – Sponsorship news e.g. NASCAR.
  • Thrivent – Helpful articles on budgeting, job seeking, stress reduction
  • Geico – Geeko brand building, enthusiastic fan base
  • USAA – Announcements and news, new applications, new products, business focused
  • Western & Southern – Sponsored Tennis tournament news

 What is the potential of Facebook?

Companies see Facebook in many ways and it may be illustrative just to list quotes made on interviews regarding Facebook strategy

  • “The objective is to assist in lead generation with a twist. A fan of the company is a public reference. If one of your ‘friends’ is a fan, we hope that will create more of a referral than a lead.”
  • “Facebook is just another feeder webpage and we must find a way to integrate Facebook and other outposts into the complete online strategy”
  • “Facebook allows customers to interact with the company; as yet however, we do not know why they would and how to cope with these comments.”
  • “Facebook allows the company to push regular news and announcements to people that have implicitly indicated a strong opt-in. Facebook and other mediums will replace email newsletters.”
  • “Facebook allows the company to address specific demographic groups”
  • “Social media allows us to increase levels of trust which are essential as we develop greater direct online sales”

One comment is worth pulling out – “Facebook is owned by the brand management/PR groups as with all social media”. A few months ago, this was quite common, now, realtively rare.

 Companies without a Facebook Presence

Just under 50% of insurance providers have a Facebook presence which leaves a lot of major players still on the sidelines. The following companies are among many those that have yet to build an official Facebook page.

Great West, Liberty Mutual (started just as this was printed – see above comment), Securian, Genworth, Unum, Farmers Insurance, Ameriprise, Metlife

AXA-Equitable, Prudential, Mass Mutual, Garden State Life, ColonialPenn, Transamerica, Zurich, Minnesota Life, John Hancock, AIG, Erie Insurance

 Should you build a Facebook Presence?

There are dangers in both building and not building a page. If you build a page, you are inviting fans to write on your wall and they expect a response. You will receive negative comments. Active communities are built by internal community managers and most companies do not employ such a person or have a process to interact.

Facebook content needs to be refreshed, checked, and reviewed. As Facebook evolves and as other sites emerge, they all need maintenance. A content manager needs to be appointed.

 But, not building a page might be worse, you could fall behind on fan base acquisition, as other companies establish marketing and lead generation channels that you cannot match. Possibly worse, most companies have a presence whether they know it or not. Pages, many using the logo and company name have been set up by interns, employee groups, ex-employees, customers, IT groups, local agents and unhappy ex-customers. The company message is being presented but not necessarily by the company. The Farmers Insurance Facebook page shown below looks official but hosted by a single agency, possibly correctly, possibly not.

 

Farmers Insurance 'unofficial page'

Farmers Insurance 'unofficial page'

 The Metlife Facebook page shown below, not been updated for 3 years, attracts 294 fans and has a constant stream of customer messages, the most recent, yesterday.

 

MetLife Dated Facebook Page

MetLife Dated Facebook Page

 

 

Facebook strategy, whatever that might be, is important. The fastest growth in Facebook activity is in the 35-44 age group with good income levels. They represent prime insurance prospects and will use social media to communicate about; if not with, insurance companies. Facebook must be one of the outposts of the online strategy and it may be a series of babysteps. As said earlier, no one has cracked the problem, the time now is for watching, measuring, understanding. Somebody will crack the problem and you do not need to be first, just do not be last.

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2 comments

  1. Great article – you say there is no best practice but who do you think is doing the best job?


    • USAA has a very business like approach, building a solid fan base that is attracted to it as financial services company. This will be useful to develop a marketing strategy. Allstate and recently Liberty Mutaul have build good social media content and are developing a rounded SM policy. Travelers, Progressive and American Family look at Facebook in providing the same type of functionality as on website and offer quote engines. It is important to develop a strategy for Facebook and how to respond to comments on the wall and build functionality focused on achieving those medium term goals.



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