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November 21, 2013 @ 12:00 am
American Family Insurance believes it is important to use social media tools to engage with customers and potential customers, but that’s not enough, AmFam Social Media Manager Michele Wingate told an audience of social media, marketing and communications professionals at the November 20 Social Media Breakfast Madison event at Madison College. It is important, she said, to monitor feedback, analyze engagement, learn from it and adapt.
American’s Family’s 10-person social media team spends a lot of time examining metrics from their top social media channels – especially Facebook and Twitter – to continuously learn what their customers want and how best to meet those needs. They don’t just measure engagement, they measure “sentiment,” breaking down engagements – comments, “likes,” shares, tweets, retweets, click-throughs, etc. – by topic and assessing them by positive versus negative sentiment. For example, they found that social media interactions connected with their consumer marketing campaigns drew extremely positive feedback, while engagement involving claims and billing was much less positive.
That type of assessment can be broken down further and shared internally to help identify areas where the company can continue to connect positively with customers and potential customers and also – in cases of negative sentiment – make changes that improve the consumer experience.
“We use social media to develop long-term relationships with customers and prospects and engage them with the overall brand,” Wingate said.
While directly addressing any negative feedback, she said, the company continues to connect with customers and potential customers in a positive way by being tied in with the company’s consumer marketing campaigns. She said AmFam has a three-pronged approach to social media that includes paid, owned and earned messages, and the strategy is to “lead with owned, grow with paid.”
Starting with the “owned” she said, “gives us something to build from, a place to speak from, and something to talk about.”
For American Family, that starting point is its brand, “We Protect Dreams,” and its connected messages: Celebrate, Protect, Inspire.
By applying those themes to specific messages, they connect the brand with the consumer. Examples include combining engaging graphics and messages:
- Celebrate: Memorial Day, Fourth of July.
- Protect: Tornado awareness messages
- Inspire: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
“We put messages out there that are what the people are talking about,” Wingate said.
One campaign that drew a very high rate of positive engagement was a Help Fight Hunger partnership with the Future Farmers of America. Rather focusing on selling insurance, the campaign created – through social media – connections with people, leading to the company’s highest engagements ever. Other campaigns that attracted very high positive engagement were 30 Days of Thanks (honoring everyday heroes around the Thanksgiving holiday); Super Bowl advertising featuring singer Phillip Phillips, football player Russell Wilson and golfer Steve Stricker; Dream Room Makeover, a Pinterest contest developed in cooperation with Better Homes & Gardens; and Back to the Table, a campaign supporting family dinners.
All those campaigns lent themselves to strong social media engagement, and the analytics demonstrated that people responded positively and extensively. The Super Bowl posts resulted in 14,000 new Twitter followers and 85,000 YouTube views.
In addition to these corporate social media campaigns, American Family is discovering the benefits of getting their agents throughout the country to use social media to connect with customers and prospects in their specific regions. They have found, for example, that 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers and that 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals.
“Agents who are active in social media are more successful,” she said, adding that although she can’t prove a direct correlation, they report 52% more quotes per month and a 14% higher renewal premium.