Social networking has infiltrated consumers' lives, and insurers are using it to alter brand images.

Property/casualty and life insurers market some of the most boring consumer products and brands, writes Chad Mitchell, a senior analyst with Forrester Research Inc., Stamford, Conn., in the firm's "Crafting an Insurance Social Media Strategy." Times are changing, though, as emerging direct brands such as Esurance and traditional agent-based insurers such as Liberty Mutual Insurance are developing their social media strategies, and trying to change brand perceptions, according to the report. Auto and life insurance customers continue to flock online to research and buy insurance. And insurance agents use social networks for training and recruiting. Insurance eBusiness executives should build a social strategy that addresses customers' and agents' problems, prepares for risks, and measures what matters.

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