UMass Dartmouth revisited their work examining social media use by the Fortune 500. Comparing 2010 to previous years, they found that while corporate blogs have leveled off with a mere 1% increase, Twitter and Facebook have exploded. UMass found 60% of the Fortune 500 had tweeted in the past 30 days, up from 35% in 2009. In Facebook’s first year of being included in the study, UMass found 56% of the Fortune 500 had corporate profile pages. It isn’t surprising that the top three industries on Facebook are the same top three on Twitter. Surprising is the presence of the Insurance Industry.
The Insurance Industry not only leads the Fortune 500 in the number of Facebook profiles, it also led Twitter activity in 2009, and is a close third today, despite the Specialty Retail and the Food Production and Services industries doubling their Twitter activity in 2010. A brief search through these sites finds these other two industries using social media to promote products. Unique to most insurance companies is that their accounts provide a real service to customers. Tweets range from general advice like flu shots and winter driving tips to @ replies thanking customers for compliments. Even more remarkable is the level of attention these companies give customers through Twitter, helping each individual get the contact information or personal advice needed for a claim.
This level of attention isn’t different from a phone call to one’s insurance provider, but putting the conversation on Twitter brings a level of transparency never before seen by customers. Twitter allows potential and existing customers to see how helpful the insurance companies can be if chosen as a provider. Speaking with one’s insurance provider is a relatively infrequent occurrence, so the social media channels go a long way to retain customers through peace of mind in their chosen provider. They know that they are not only insured, but have a company they can trust. Other service industries take note; social media’s becoming a deciding factor for customers.