Monday, February 16th, 2015 | 7 min read
Large brands that don’t sell physical products or operate in an industry that attracts a lot of mainstream consumer attention can find it challenging to connect with customers and get them excited about what they do. Social is one of the most effective channels for organizations like these to tell their story, showcase their personality and humanize their brand.
The ones that succeed in building a loyal, engaged audience on social create content that showcases the value the organization adds to consumers’ lives, slowly turning a brand that can feel abstract into something that everyone can understand and connect to.
New York Life is great at this, which is probably why they have the largest Twitter following in the insurance industry. Recently, we sat down with Dipayan Gupta – who leads the company’s social media team – to learn about how the 170-year-old brand designs their social strategy, breaks down internal silos to make social a part of the entire business, and provides consistently positive customer experiences online.
Here’s what he had to say.
A: New York Life has been around for nearly 170 years, and we’ve been adapting to new ways of communicating all the while. Social media is yet another opportunity for us to express and build upon our brand equity, and we have three objectives with our strategy. We want to use social media to educate and empower consumers, build emotional connections, and generate customer insights.
Like any other brand, we want to be top of mind, but we are also challenged by operating in an industry that many people do not think about daily. Our products can change people’s lives, but they are intangible and can be difficult to understand. So our mission is to remind people of the good in their lives that is worth protecting, and to explain to them how we can help secure their futures.
By educating consumers, we are building positive emotional connections. Our products are sold through agents who have the difficult task of speaking with people they often do not know about very personal matters. It helps if these individuals have heard of New York Life, and it’s even better if they associate us with something positive.
Finally, we want to use social media to become a smarter business. Whether it’s improving customer service, developing innovative products, or anticipating emerging needs, social media gives us a focus group of millions to keep up with the industry and the world around us. One simply cannot educate consumers and build positive brand awareness without listening to what people have to say.
A: The social media team manages our brand’s corporate social media profiles. What makes social media so exciting is that it is a conversation; we are sharing information and interacting with people. This means that our responsibilities span marketing, community management, customer service, and business intelligence. As a result, we work closely with nearly every department and product line. Working in this group, I’ve become an expert in social media, but it’s also been an invaluable education in how a Fortune 100 company functions.
We have the largest Twitter following in the insurance industry. And we’re in the top five among our peers when it comes to Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+. We’re proud of the size of our social footprint, but audience interaction is what’s key. The team is constantly looking for ways to create and curate relevant content to engage our community. A successful corporate profile is one that acts like a person would, reacting to events as they unfold.
Some content needs to be planned, but we’ve also built up enough internal trust to respond to trends in real time.
“A successful social profile is one that acts like a person would, reacting to events as they unfold.”
A: Social media cannot live in a silo. It’s a given that a team like ours would work closely with our advertising and marketing groups to ensure that our messaging is consistent and that we are leveraging each other’s work. New York Life has 12,000 agents in the field, and our team is in constant contact to make sure that we are empowering them to be ambassadors of the company, while providing tools to build their personal brands.
We have industry regulations and internal processes that are there to protect consumers, but we work directly with departments to help them respond in a timely fashion while maintaining our clients’ personal security. We realize that operating in social media creates a consumer expectation that our responses to questions and complaints be prompt and consistent.
A: Social media gives us the opportunity to interact with people outside of the sales cycle. In 2014, we created CelebratingGood.com, a site solely populated by user-generated content. We wanted to create a space where people could interact with our “Keep Good Going” brand campaign and make it their own. It’s a place where people can share, via Twitter, the moments that they hold most dear. What’s significant here is that we are not asking people to take pictures next to any product or make a purchase. They don’t need to hold up a sneaker or a t-shirt. They are sharing genuine moments in their lives that are happening independent of us; all we are doing is providing a platform. This speaks to our company’s mission of creating a foundation for people to live their lives according to their own personal good.
“Social media is an essential tool in providing a positive, consistent experience for everyone, whether they are a prospect, client, agent, or employee.”
This past holiday season, we partnered with Feeding America to provide meals for families in need. Each time people tweeted their moments via Celebrating Good, we donated 25 meals to others in need. It was a wonderful way for the company and our social audience to Keep Good Going.
Overall, social media is integral to our strategy here at New York Life, and is an essential tool in providing a positive, consistent experience for everyone, whether they are a prospect, client, agent, or employee.