Please make this end

30 Jan

We’ve been briefed by an insurance company to look after their social media. It’s quite a challenge, especially as I have never visited the Facebook page of an insurance company, nor have I followed any of the Twitter feeds provided by this sector. And do you know why this is? Because I AM NOT REMOTELY INTERESTED IN THEM. If ever there was a distress purchase, it is insurance. I buy it because I have to, and I resent the fact that I need it. But hey, a company wants to give me money to fill space because they have been told that social media adds value to their offering and sets them up as an open, available and forward thinking concern. Who am I to say no?

My first step was to visit the Facebook page of an industry leader, Aviva. Here is their Facebook page right now, at the point of writing this blog, at 3pm on 30 January 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.52.04 Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.50.09

Yes, that’s right. A letter of complaint from an irate Aviva customer, threatening to sue the company. Curious as to why Aviva have exposed themselves to the public ire, I read on. Apparently, the company has teamed up with Heart FM to brighten up the Monday of one lucky listener a week. A nice idea, which leads them to ask Facebook ‘fans’ how their Monday could be better. Cue this:

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.52.04


A lengthy rant from a man who has received a 4.5k insurance quote for a £300 runabout, completely spoiling his Monday.

Which leads me tho ask – what does Aviva (and my client) expect from a Facebook page? Why would their customers visit? Any information they might need is surely contained (and managed, and given a positive spin) in the company’s website. There might even be a Wikipedia page with a few impressive stats. And there are always the price comparison websites from whom the insurance companies must get so much or their trade. Aviva use their Facebook to announce initiatives such as the tie in with Heart, and to promote their money advice blog. But howe many people ‘like’ this stuff? Well, the stats tell their own story. People liking each of Aviva’s updates are currently in single figures.

Was it Aviva’s advertising agency that suggested they ‘do’ social media? Was it their digital agency? Or did they just feel obliged to join in the mass stampede? And what did they want their Facebook page to achieve? Sales? Enquiries? Friends? Because at the moment, this is an online newspaper that nobody reads, one that, should it be printed and placed on the shelves of a newsagent, would never sell.

I go back to the truth that insurance is a distress purchase. That makes an insurance company as interesting as the companies who remove the blue bins from ladies loos. Those companies probably don’t have Facebook pages, or fans, and no one would expect them to. And yet someone, somewhere is filling the Aviva page with content, stuck on transmit, stopping occasionally to placate the Mr Wilsons and the Simon Deans. 

I haven’t yet worked out my approach to our insurance client’s social media brief. My opening gambit will be to tell them that we are an advertising agency, and to ask them what they would like us to help them sell. Then I’ll ask them which insurance company is really winning big with their social activity. I’ll even ask them which other brands are using social media to dramatically increase revenue. The dispiriting truth is that I am not expecting them to have any answers to hand.



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