American Family Insurance was named a 2010 Groundswell Award finalist for our 2009 Facebook tactics. Here’s the story behind our award recognition.
Our goal with social media was to reach people when and where they make insurance decisions – and that meant putting our agents on Facebook and helping foster thousands of local conversations with people in that social space.
American Family agents are local business leaders and prominent sponsors of community events, athletics and celebrations. They are trusted advisors with strong ties and relationships to people in their communities. But as the personal relationships of American Family Insurance customers and prospects went online, our agents remained offline.
How we overcame a regulated industry, conservative background and “boring” brand
Three additional roadblocks stood in our way.
- We’re in a heavily regulated industry, so allowing our agents to freely set up their own Facebook pages was not an option.
- We’re a conservative company that had never embarked on such an aggressive path in such a new online media.
- There’s a perception that American Family Insurance is a “boring” brand that few would want to connect with in a social space.
In reality, being social is part of who we are as a company. It’s the lifeblood of our agents and how they connect with people in their communities. Until now, our agents did not have a way to make those social connections online. We overcame our company’s obstacles by bringing our agents to the people using social media tools that take advantage of our agents’ natural networking abilities.
We co-developed a social media publisher that drove us right around our roadblocks by:
- Allowing American Family to corporately oversee all agent Facebook pages while still giving agents individual control of their pages.
- Providing agents with a large library of engaging, non-salesy content to share with people but still allowing for individual content creation that would speak to our unique market of 19 operating states.
- Creating a rich and dynamic Facebook platform (including customized tabs) for our agents that would get their followers to look past our perceived “boring” brand
How we fostered hundreds of daily social conversations on Facebook and saved $3.19 million in the process
Based on our Facebook positioning of Celebrating and Protecting Families, we created the largest Facebook presence in the insurance industry – one that celebrates our fans’ accomplishments and gives them useful information to keep their families safe.
In less than a year, American Family Insurance became the most connected brand on Facebook with more than 1,800 locally managed agent Facebook pages and 70,000+ cumulative daily connections. Our social presence grows every day as more agents come on board and add followers to their local pages.
Putting our large agent force on Facebook was neither a simple nor inexpensive task. But had we not co-developed a social media publisher and had a dedicated social media team, it would never have happened. American Family saved approximately $3.19 million annually by co-building our social media publisher vs. buying or leasing a comparable tool available with Facebook’s preferred vendors.
As our agents began to make connections on Facebook, they did so with engaging content and conversations unique to their own communities. Through August 25, 2010, American Family Insurance agents have shared 10,951 pieces of content through their Facebook pages, including 1,552 videos and 2,463 status updates.
Our team developed custom tabs for agent Facebook pages. Our agents benefit from customized content on those tabs, but they also gain a powerful networking tool through a custom contact form. This customized form allows visitors to the page to connect one-on-one with agents – something not available on traditional Facebook pages.
Since launching our social media publisher, our agents have connected with hundreds of people thanks to this new online presence on Facebook. For many agents, this has translated into new business coming directly from Facebook (see sidebar).
Connecting agents with new customers
James Koppang, an American Family Insurance agent from Lees Summit, Mo., has firsthand experience with the referral and sales potential of Facebook and knows that Facebook connections equal sales.
“My status updates aren’t about being an insurance expert, they create and build relationships with people. Then next time customers have a renewal, they might remember my personality, the relationship we built on Facebook and come to me for their next insurance needs. I can attribute 10-15 new customers to Facebook. They come from people who send me a message through Facebook looking for a quote. Other people ask me questions because they saw me mentioned in a friend’s post about how I provided them service or saved them money.”
– James Koppang, American Family Insurance agent in Lees Summit, Mo.
The facebook activity of our agents has driven a five-fold increase in traffic to our website and hundreds of agent referral and quote opportunities.
American Family Insurance is the most connected brand on Facebook
In just a few months, American Family Insurance took our social media presence from non-existent to No. 1 – not only among our competitors, but arguably establishing the most connections on Facebook of any brand. Not bad for a conservative company …with a boring brand …in a highly regulated industry.
Special thanks to members of the social media team at American Family Insurance: Collin Kromke, Mark Anderson, Tom Buchheim, Keith Katers, Seth Keeler, Annie Vang and Lisa Severson.