Insurers and Facebook – Friend or Foe?


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One reason for insurers to build a Facebook page is to be where the consumer is – this is the same argument used to build web sites ten year ago, invest in search engine optimization and not too dissimilar to the rationale for having a local agent in every main street in America.

But just having a Facebook page feels a little like having that first web site, it was there but did not do very much; we were just planting our flag in the ground. Now we have placed our Facebook flag what is the next.

Many companies are building what is essentially a parallel web presence inside Facebook arguing that consumers on Facebook want to stay there and not dispatched to an external website. Facebook is building its own proprietary web, much in the same way AOL tried to do.

Retailers, such as Amazon, have integrated Facebook with their website allowing consumers to buy recommended purchases for friends based on Facebook preferences. Delta lets you book an air ticket and Starbucks will let you buy a coffee card all on Facebook. With the growth of mobile use, this so-called ‘f-commerce’ is bound to grow.

As per usual, the insurance industry is dragging its feet but starting to follow suit. Geico and 21st Century both offer auto insurance quotes inside of Facebook and Accuquote allow you to calculate life insurance needs as well as providing a range of comparison quotes. Is this a simple and logical extension to reach consumers or is there a bigger strategic issue.

Within Facebook, you must live by their rules, which as we know, are constantly changing. Facebook already knows a lot more about our customer than we do, indeed in the recent “Gartner Predicts 2012? report, Gartner points out that Facebook users share many personal tidbits — from getting married to announcing births and job retirements — that could be used to sell insurance.

Gartner’s conclusion is that “Offering insurance products to their communities would be a natural extension of (their) strategies and would allow them to capitalize on their extensive set of information they constantly collect about their users.”

While few in the industry think this to be a realistic scenario, information is a vital insurance ingredient and Facebook will have it. The more likely outcome would be for Facebook to enable retail partners to offer some of the more commoditized insurance products. Therefore, should insurers expand their presence on Facebook to reach consumers, is this playing with fire or can we trust Facebook to play nice?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Terry Golesworthy
As the president of The Customer Respect Group for 7 years, I focus on the online experience of consumers. Online experience has always been bigger than the company website, from the response to email to integration to other offline channels. It has now grown to include social media.


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