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Insurers Take Social Media Strategies Beyond Branded Pages

With initiatives such as corporate Facebook pages and Twitter feeds becoming table stakes, carriers across lines of business are looking to lead in other areas.

By now, most insurance carriers have social media presences on the two leading networks: Facebook and Twitter. Now, looking to stand out from the crowd, insurers are looking for new ways to engage their members socially.

Aetna (Hartford, Conn.) announced a partnership with Seattle-based Mindbloom May 3, through which the health insurer will offer its members a version of Mindbloom's Life Game. In the game, users record personal health and wellness goals, leveling up each time they meet a goal. If they choose, players can connect with other Life Game users and share those goals with them.

"There's a way in which people relate to health and wellness that's distinct," says Dr. Kyra Bobinet, medical director of health and wellness innovation for Aetna. "There is evidence in the scientific literature around one's activation around their health and the degree of cost that they incur in the healthcare system as well as their emotional well-being."

Besides the miniature social network contained within the game — Mindgame users build a "tree" and can add others to create a "forest" — players can also publish goals to Facebook or Twitter, sharing their successes with their existing network. Or, they can keep their goals to themselves and use the game as a traditional health-tracking tool.

"We can set the stage for the platform, but the user can decide who they want to invite into the game," adds Dan Brostek, head of member and consumer engagement at Aetna. " With the focus that people have on privacy, we're not looking to force social interaction on them. You can have this as kind of a personal self-help tool, if that's what you like, or it's something you can build a community around."

Aetna is planning on bringing the Mindbloom game to mobile as well when its version is released this fall. Right now, there is a Mindbloom mobile-optimized site, but Brostek says Aetna will create an iPhone application that facilitates both social and personal use of the program.

"The way we're approaching it is that you don't have to use the social game," Brostek says. "We're trying to think of new ways to leverage multichannel environments where you have a combination of solutions."

Allstate is also looking beyond the traditional networks as it broadens its social strategy. The Northbrook-Ill.-based company was among the first to use a recent addition to LinkedIn: product recommendations.

"Late last year LinkedIn allowed companies to add some detailed product information, and we wanted to take that opportunity to have products in that environment," says Roger Tye, director of consumer engagement marketing for Allstate. "If LinkedIn is [customers'] social network of choice, I don't want to make them go somewhere else. It's all about accessibility and consumer preference."

Product information went live on March 15 for several of Allstate's lines: auto, homeowners, renters, life and more. If LinkedIn users follow the recommendations to Allstate's product page, they also can find a link to the company's website to begin the quoting process.

"Since we don't have a physical product, social helps us interact with customers more often on their terms," Tye says.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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