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Brokers look at new ways to leverage social media


Many insurance brokers see a bright future for the ongoing use of social media.

“There's no doubt” the brokers' use of social media will accelerate, said Claude Yoder, New York-based global head of analytics for Marsh Inc.

“I really do believe that the next three years will make even the rollout of the Internet look like a glacial case,” he said. “All you have to do is look at computer sales versus tablet sales and you'll see a huge divergence in terms of growth.''

Tablet shipments are expected to increase 58.7% this year over 2012 and to exceed portable computer shipments, according to a May forecast by San Mateo, Calif.-based International Data Corp.

Referring to the outlook of brokers using more social media, Regina Spratt, New York-based Marsh U.S. sales leader, said clients and prospects want more information before making decisions, and “they want different ways to gather information and they want to be able to do that on their own and in their own way.''

Marsh is “working to aggressively respond to that'' through use of social media, she said. “I think that takes being nimble, and I think people who don't recognize that dynamic, that people want to be able to consume that information on their own, they will likely be less effective.

“As you watch and listen to the experts, this dynamic is becoming more and more real, that people want different ways to gather information and they want to be able to do that on their own and in their own way,” Ms. Spratt said.

Nancy Gospo, vice president, marketing for brokerage Hub International Ltd. in Chicago, said, “We're constantly tracking to see how often and how frequently our producers are posting content and how many of them have optimized their profile” through the use of social media.

She said the brokerage would like to achieve “more active sharing” of content. “There's a lot of value to more people within our organization sharing that within our networks,” Ms. Gospo said. “It's being done today, but I think there's a great opportunity to expand on that.”


John Thorbahn, president of NFP Thorbahn in Norwell, Mass., a unit of National Financial Partners Corp., said “Social media will allow us to expand our brand into some areas we're not currently known for at this time.”

Mike Gelin, Miami-based vice president at CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services of Florida, a unit of CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services Inc., said, “In the future, I see more and more companies marketing and communicating via different social media networks, as they try to promote their business and their brand using the various platforms.”

Not everyone is enthusiastic about social media, however. There tends to be a disparity among brokers on how they take advantage of social media, said Tom Kavanagh, Chicago-based director, insurance practice, at PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P.

Some are doing a “fantastic job,” particularly when it comes to branding and information dissemination, taking advantage of established social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and even Yelp, he said.

However, “there are also folks that don't engage with any of those tools for various reasons,” Mr. Kavanagh said. It could be because they think they “are well established and have a robust book of business and don't feel the need to engage using those media. It could also be the insurance space is slow moving, particularly when it comes” to new technology, he said.

Mr. Kavanagh offered advice to those brokers who have not yet engaged in social media: “Unless they're getting ready to sell their book, I think they're missing out on a great opportunity to really differentiate themselves.”

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