Time for health networks to get social


Recently published in Corporate Advisor magazine, Chris Fiander, web content controller at ADVO Group discusses the importance of health insurance intermediaries to be fully utilising social media…

“As the pace of technology quickens with each passing year so does effective marketing. The change in just a few short years is astounding.

Ours is a people business, supported until only recently by paper and the telephone, but the rapidity of the online takeover seems barely credible. Yet many in the health insurance industry struggle to maintain an up-to-date website. I wonder how these organisations will fare in the near future without fully embracing the cyber-world.

Social media is radically changing marketing as we know it. Many organisations are run by an older generation without any conception or understanding of our new online world. The arrival of the internet should be seen as on a par with the invention of the steam engine and unless companies embrace it they will surely be left far behind.

We all know of Facebook and Twitter, but how many of us are aware of ’stumbleupon’ or Google +? Already the marketing comparison is now moving beyond those who are only using Facebook and Twitter against companies utilising wider tools such as LinkedIn and others.

The relevancy these new social media marketing practices have are unquestionable. Social media has sufficient longevity and usage behind it for it not to be seen as a quirky solution for just a select few industries; rather, it is now centred as a fully mainstream communication technique.

The health insurance industry is ideally suited to and relevant for social media. Social media offer a wide array of tools that are increasingly viewed as vital due to their ability to effectively target new clients through a bespoke message to a selected audience. The broker side of the industry, in particular, is tailor made for the modern social media landscape. When communication is transferred down social media channels it is not just in support of the product for the broker but actually works more as part of the product. The tools are out there to make the process highly targeted and effective and it extends far beyond simply using Facebook and Twitter.

One of the biggest and more significant tools available now is LinkedIn, the business version of Facebook. Until its arrival LinkedIn was sorely missing from the social media landscape, which is apparent from the site’s enormous levels of growth in a relatively short space of time. LinkedIn reports that it has an astonishing 161m members. The most obvious company representation on the site is the familiar company profile page. However, one of the best features, and most often overlooked, is their group feature. This allows the creation a forum to discuss leading issues, bringing in wider industry knowledge and pulling in clients and interest from all over the world.

ADVO Group’s own LinkedIn group, ’Health Insurance Industry UK’, is an example of how leading industry figures can come together through social media. With all the leading insurers represented in membership, the group is becoming a real communication hub for the industry. We have been surprised by the wide acceptance and global engagement of the membership.

Many organisations are run by an older generation without any conception or understanding of our new online world. Unless companies embrace it they will surely be left far behind

Another excellent tool is Google+. It is perhaps the most cutting edge site as it has only allowed business to be set up within the last few months. Besides excellent value for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, the great communication tool ideally suited to our industry is that you can filter and adapt the message. For example, targeting medical and dental cover to the most likely demographic rather than the traditional ’scatter-gun’ approach. The filtering of content is something which we have utilised on the ADVO Group page on Google+ to great effect. We also include YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, not to mention facilitating the sharing of content on sites such as Stumbleupon, Digg, Delicious and many more.

The health insurance industry is well on its way to utilising social media marketing strategies, with a huge number of insurers having active, engaging and popular Twitter accounts. Some brokers are also waking up and starting to follow.

It is a brave new world out there. Those that understand and appreciate the change in landscape will have a definite edge over competitors. We are no longer restricted to our own location and can reach out effectively to the whole world”.

View this full article on the Corporate Advisor website here