Instagram has enjoyed consistent growth over the past few years and it now boasts over 120 million active users in the US alone but makes the platform most intriguing is its popularity with millennials and Gen-Zs.
Back at the start of the Facebook era, insurers took a long time to implement productive social strategies as they wrestled with how best to communicate, what were the consumer expectations of an insurer and simple social etiquette. Instagram is no less of a challenge with the added pressure of wrapping the message into a visual format. Insurers are also understandably hesitant to devote significant investment into a proprietary platform that, given recent experiences, will likely undergo significant change.
Instagram has done a better job than Facebook in differentiating between free (feed) and paid (sponsored) posts. If you want to offer a call to action, the choice is clear – you must use sponsored posts. Without being able to add a relevant weblink on feed posts and the expectation that brand page organic reach will diminish as it did for Facebook, it is almost impossible to see the value of product orientated strategies. Thus, the focus is on employees and when that is not the case, public relations and corporate branding.
During this period of Instagram baby steps, insurers are realizing that their best culture ambassadors might just be their current employees. Casting the spotlight on employee is a big part of the industry approach and whether is little more than an interim step or that insurers will “double down” and enable greater amplification of employee voices remains to be seen.
Independent local agents have little appetite for another social platform especially one that targets future and not current customers. This is forcing carriers to look for alternative advocates and this is where employee-orientated strategy is most prevalent.
The big question for Instagram however is whether it holds a key for insurers to reach and connect with millennials and Gen-Z’s. These “always connected” audiences are less trusting of financial services companies and prone to be influenced by peers but while there is some evidence of individual insurers creating content specifically for these younger audiences, it remains very limited.
About half of the insurers reviewed have started to explore sponsored (paid) posts but the approach is tentative at best as insurers determine protocol and acceptable practices. The insurers most active and likely to find early success with Instagram are those that sell direct to the customer. Carriers such as Geico and Progressive together with the growing body of ’Insurtechs’ such as Lemonade can best afford to be “edgy”, appeal directly to younger audiences often with humor and drive positive brand awareness and relevant messaging. Other likely benefactors are those with close communities such as USAA that can use to platform to enhance the feeling of connection to the organization and other members.
What's the Role for Instagram for Insurance Companies?
Instagram offers a very different social option for insurers as a way to reach customers but especially those under the age of 34. Millennials can be suspicious of brands on their social feeds.
Insurers are slowly coming to terms with the platform but there are few examples of strategic campaigns that take full advantage of the visual platform. While its is understandable that insurers will be slow to adopt new opportunities, given the well documented challenge facing the industry of reaching millennials, this might represent a missed opportunity or an opening for more nimble competitors to pose threats.
This study takes a look at a representative set of insurers and financial services firms, selected in part to represent the primary distribution models; independent agents, captive agents and direct to the customer.
This objective of this study was to look at current practices both for the public feed as well as sponsored posts that are running. With any new platform, content will change over time so it is a snapshot but it is key for insurers to take stock of the state of the industry in order to make budgetary commitments for 2020 and for social and digital marketers, Instagram cannot be ignored.
Includes: Allstate, Nationwide, Cincinnati Insurance, Auto-Owners, Erie Insurance, Travelers, Lincoln Financial, Voya, Amica, USAA, Progressive, Selective Insurance, Chubb, Westfield Insurance, American Family, Shelter Insurance, Brighthouse Financial, Geico