Large Insurers Don’t Leave Too Many Questions on Facebook Unanswered

December 6, 2012

Social care (customer service through social media channels) is becoming more important, with recent research from NM Incite showing that 1 in 2 social media users are now accessing customer service through a social media platform. According to data from Socialbakers, in Q3, companies responded to 48% of questions posed on their Facebook pages. So how did the largest property and casualty insurers fare? A new MarketingCharts report on insurance marketing benchmarks the industry leaders, and explains why their “social devotion” matters.

For the report, Socialbakers provided an analysis of the corporate Facebook pages of a group of top US insurers (by market share) for the period November 1-26. The pages, which ranged in fan size from roughly 41,000 (Nationwide) to 2.3 million (Farmers), had seen varying degrees of growth in fan size from the previous month, and sported engagement rates ranging from just 0.01% to 0.6%.

The analysis found that for the most part, these large P&C insurers are ahead of the 48% average Socialbakers revealed for Q3. Nationwide (76.9%), Progressive (76.5%), and State Farm (73.1%) represented the top tier of “socially devoted” insurance brands, each answering roughly 3 of every 4 questions asked during that period in November. Beyond those leaders, the next tier answered between 50-60% of questions, led by Allstate (57.9%), and followed by GEICO (56.1%), Liberty Mutual (51.7%), and American Family Insurance (50%). Of the 8, only Farmers trailed the average, ignoring more questions than it answered, for a response rate of 46.4%.

The analysis does have its limitations, of course. For one, it looked at official fan pages, and so may have ignored pages that carriers pay more attention to. Research from Corporate Insight, for example, indicates that Allstate, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive, and State Farm each offer 4 or more distinct Facebook pages. Still, if GEICO is focusing more on the gecko’s Facebook page, it’s above-average response rate for its official corporate page bodes well.

The analysis also doesn’t account for questions that might be completely unrelated to insurance, and unanswerable. Presumably, though, that would be the case for all insurers (and industries), so the benchmarking exercise remains valid.

Why Does It Matter?

Measuring insurer response rates over Facebook is important because customers who use social care tend to be vocal about their experiences. So while the actual number of questions posed on the large insurers’ pages might be minimal, the reach of those asking the questions is much larger.

Consider that the aforementioned research from NM Incite found that among customers who have sought a social care response, 71% of those who received a quick and effective response said they would be likely to recommend the brand. And that reaction cuts both ways. Earlier survey results from American Express revealed that consumers who have used social media for customer service would tell more people about a good experience than the general population would (42, on average, vs. 15), but would also spread the word at a far greater rate about bad experiences (53 vs. 24).

Insurers should expect to see more questions being asked of them on Facebook and other social media platforms. A NICE Systems report released in May that surveyed nearly 1,200 consumers in the US, UK, and Australia on their interactions with various service providers found that many regularly use social media as a touchpoint. What’s more, 40% of respondents said they’re using social networks as a communications channel more than they did 2 years ago. That increase was particularly evident among Millennials, which the MarketingCharts study reveals to be the most likely age group to switch carriers.

Insurers will need to evolve along with these new dynamics, as Millennials use ever more touchpoints and communication channels. Data (from a Deloitte survey) contained in the MarketingCharts report shows that among auto insurance customers, 42% of those aged 18-25 and 46% of those aged 26-34 said that having multiple touchpoints available for them to communicate with their carrier was an extremely or very influential factor for them the last time they switched carriers. Among homeowner policyholders, the percentages were even higher.

About the MarketingCharts Report:

The 85-page report on personal lines insurance marketing from MarketingCharts contains 43 charts and graphs, and is an exhaustive analysis of primary and secondary research, including a host of new statistics provided exclusively by several research sources. The report delves into topics and benchmarks including:

  • Customer loyalty and satisfaction, and drivers for each;
  • Online and traditional media spending and efficacy;
  • The importance of the online presence and new media touchpoints;
  • Lead generation techniques, and lead scoring; and
  • The role of the independent agent in a market upended by the internet.

The full report can be purchased here.


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