At ACORDLOMA this year, there was one discussion, a workshop on a topic, that required the audience to participate: “Social Media in Business: Friend, Foe, or Who Cares,” which was moderated by Mike Fitzgerald of Celent.

When I first walked into the room, I noticed the set up was different than most sessions. So did the others who followed. Instead of rows of chairs and tables, the tables were in a U-shape. There were only 30 chairs so the audience was limited to ensure the discussion flowed. Most people came in, sat down and made him or herself comfortable, but it was evident that a few did not expect the layout. A few people stepped into the room, looked for a seat, and opted to leave when they saw the layout and format. This was different than other sessions.

And yes, it was different. The session began with introductions of each attendee. Slides were limited. Questions were asked of the moderator at first, but it quickly turned to the attendees asking the other attendees how things were being done where they worked. It was exactly how a social media discussion should be.

Mike presented a few slides on the different levels of social media involvement. Most insurers are still at the infantile stages of social media, meaning that the insurer is in the marketing or media stage. They are promoting brand, using mascots and making their presence known in the space. However, a few insurers in the room had moved to the next two stages.

Some insurers had developed networks both internally and externally using social media, which is often done through agents or agencies with customers, or even within the enterprise itself. Others had gone as far as setting up methods for listening to social media chatter to understand and react to customer postings and feedback. This level of use for both internal and external engagement was a surprise.

Use of social for customer service was also covered. Results from the Celent report "Realizing the ROI of Social Media in Insurance: Listen to the Mirror" were reviewed. This research scanned over 350,000 posts that consumers left about their insurance companies — what topics were posted, what sentiments were expressed, etc. Real-life examples were offered by two of the participants in the room who shared their personal experiences using Twitter to engage with insurers about complaints. In both cases, the negative tweet was answered — however, it was noted that neither person posted a subsequent positive, follow-up tweet.

The final topic dealt with was using social data for core insurance processes such as claims and underwriting. Multiple participants reported that their claims areas were accessing social sites as part of their investigations process. The group agreed that there is potential for use (and misuse) of social information in underwriting, but that this area is still very much emerging.

Based on this experience at ACORDLOMA, I encourage you to look for the discussion group sessions at next year’s event. It was a valuable source of information and enjoyable, too.

This blog has been reprinted with permission fromCelent.

Karen Monks is an analyst in Celent's insurance practice.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Karen using the “Add Your Comments” box below. She also can be reached at kmonks@celent.com.

The opinions of bloggers onwww.insurancenetworking.comdo not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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