NYL Is Improving Agent Use of Social Media

New York Life’s tag line is “The Company You keep.” New York Life (NYL) recognizes that the “company you keep” has to be involved with social media because that is where a growing number of their clients and prospects inhabit. In particular, NYL continues to build momentum and experience applying social media to strengthen their interactions and relationships with their agents and policyholders. Most recently, NYL has invested their time and resources with two social media initiatives supporting their agents: one involves using a technology start-up company and the second involves LinkedIn.

NYL is working on a Proof-of-Concept with a technology start-up company to ensure that their agents remain compliant regardless of which social media sites they use. This start-up technology company accomplishes this by getting in the middle between NYL’s agents’ dialogue and social media sites the agents want to post information. With the solution from this start-up, NYL agents can use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn and other social media sites.

Is this “Big Brother” in action? NO! The life insurance industry is a heavily regulated industry by the States the insurance company does business in and by various Federal Government agencies (such as SEC or FINRA, formerly NASD). The insurance industry also must comply with industry regulations as well.

Using the solution from the start-up company, NYL is ensuring that their agents can participate in the conversations of the digital marketplace whenever they want and remain compliant to the plethora of never-ending regulations. One other benefit of NYL’s application of this solution was the immediate realization that the Compliance Department had to be brought into the (use of social media) fold from the beginning – just as it should be.

NYL’s second initiative is with LinkedIn. Working with Sales & Distribution management, NYL created a template for their recruiting managers and agents who either are using or want to use LinkedIn. The templates provide NYL agents with a way to go beyond the obvious uses of LinkedIn and get much more out of LinkedIn’s functionality. With these templates, NYL has crafted a set of Best Practices that the company and its agents can improve going forward in time. NYL is driven to facilitate the agent’s ability to put themselves forward into the marketplace in a way they can best explain their personal value proposition to their policyholders and prospects.

Also regarding LinkedIn, NYL is participating in LinkedIn’s Beta Company Profile program. NYL has added several customized features, including video to the standard algorithmically-produced page, to provide a much more robust and richer media experience for their prospective agents and employees, and of course, existing policyholders. In particular, NYL has created a customized view for prospective agent recruiting of the insurance company for anyone whose LinkedIn profile indicates having a sales background or interest in sales.  Eventually NYL wants to feature as many as 72 different sales recruiters over the course of a year.

I was told at the end of our discussion that NYL realizes their agents – social networkers by nature – are using social media. The company wants to direct those activities in a manner that benefits their agents, policyholders, prospects and regulators. They feel (correctly) that the best way to do that is to adhere to the guiding philosophy “let the community live!” But, and here are important lessons for other insurance companies, monitor the community, pay attention to the community, and most importantly, learn from the community to sharpen the company’s strategies and tactics to best meet the expectations of all of the company’s stakeholders.

What is your insurance company doing? How is it applying social media to enable its agents or brokers? What social media software (whether Socialware or others) is your company looking to best engage in the dialogue within the social mediasphere?

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Life Insurers: Managing The When & How of Meeting Clients

No, the above title is not a typo. I mean ‘when.’

The matter of ‘when’ has been changing over the decades. Back in the quite olden days of the husband working in an office and wife busy at home with 2.something children (and a dog),  life insurance clients or prospects could be reached after dinner if you wanted to talk to both spouses. That was ‘when’ was quite straightforward.

And so was the ‘how’ – a phone call. And that phone call was to a landline (or wireline if you prefer).

These days the ‘when’ is much trickier. Both spouses may be working; one spouse may be working and the other spouse is out of work but looking; both spouses may be looking for work; the stay-at-home spouse may be working at home or taking care of the children and off-and-about doing errands. Or possibly one or both of them are retired and gallivanting hither and yon.

Of course, the technology options that can be used to reach any of these people has become quite a full palette of possibilities.

Here’s one list of suggestions to reach potential life insurance prospects:

  • Gen Y or younger Gen X: MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter (if the ‘following’ arrangements with each other are in place), texting  or other Instant Messaging (IM), or cell phone (do they even use a wireline phone?!)
  • Older Gen X: FaceBook, IM, e-mail or cell phone
  • Boomers: e-mail or wireline telephone (or possibly cell phone if you have a strong relationship with them)

And for those prospects of more complicated life insurance policies or annuities of some flavor – LinkedIn.

But what about a calendar service on the Web? Agents could upload documents for clients to view or print if they want. (Of course, agents could also create a document of potential meeting times and information to be reviewed, upload to a portion of their agency web site and send the URL to the prospective clients before the face-to-face takes place.)

How do you determine when to meet life insurance clients? What technologies do you use to arrange the meeting? To share information before the meeting? What technologies are your clients expecting or asking for to conduct business with you?