Social Media/Web Feed

The Connection Between Social Media and Insurance : Five Questions

I was honored to be interviewed recently by ILSTV, "the source for daily insurance news and analysis and information relevant to the Canadian insurance industry" on my views and experiences in using social media as an insurance professional to support our clients, get involved and help give back to the community, as well as to listen to what people are thinking about. Every opportunity to listen to our clients and learn from them is an opportunity for us in the industry to provide better services and support.

The Financial services industry is one of the most complicated for individuals to understand, which is why I feel it is so important for "experts" and experienced brokers to reach out to their clients in as many ways possible and provide them with resources to learn about the things that affect them. Social Media provides an incredible opportunity here. It was very nice to have the chance to chat with Julie Hawrishok of ILSTV and answer her five questions, in fact we covered so much,  I even got a bonus one (Thanks Julie)!  Read more on our conversation in this interview:

"With more than* 15 years of experience in the insurance industry, Mila’s now embraced social media and has become a strong advocate for social media in the

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An invitation to connect with us Nov 30th #140ConfMTL Meetup

Ogilvy & Ogilvy is pleased to invite you to the #140Conf Meetup - a Social Media event
November 30th, 2011
Join us at the beautiful Intercontinental Montreal for Cocktails from 5 to 7:30pm
Who should attend?

Anyone interested in the opportunities Social Media presents on both local and international scales. Enjoy the opportunity to connect with people in the community who are using social media and share ideas & conversation in a relaxed and warm environment.
We hope to see you there!

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Social Media is about relationships. We built our business on relationships.

Ogilvy & Ogilvy is proud to announce that we will be sponsoring the 140 Conference Montreal for 2012. The #140Conf is an exploration on the effects that Social Media is having on "The state of now". What does that mean? It means that Social Media, which includes Twitter, online games like Farmville,  Blogs, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare is changing the face of how we live, how we communicate and how we do business.

LogosWith O&O 140confMTL

Ogilvy & Ogilvy was built on relationships. We have not been active in advertising, we rely on word of mouth. Many of our clients are third generation clients, and as time has passed we have managed to maintain those relationships. As the world has changed we have realized we want to make sure that our clients and our community have a way to connect with us. Social media has presented options to find more ways to connect and be involved.

When the opportunity to support the #140Conf and bring this international conference to Montreal came up, it made sense that if Social Media is about relationships, and this is what Ogilvy has built a business on for over 85 years now, that sharing the power of communication and bringing the conference to Montreal was in perfect alignment with our values and goals. We want to support "making the world a smaller place", give back to our community and enhance communication and relationship building using these social tools.

Like many out there, as a business, we are just learning about the possibilities. We look forward to joining forces with other relationship conscious brands in sponsoring the event as we continue on our path to use Social Media to create new ways for our clients to communicate with us and engage with our community. The #140conf provides an opportunity for individuals and businesses alike to learn how to connect and share in the experiences others are having using these tools to improve service, reach out to their communities and strengthen relationships.

All part of our journey and commitment to continue to make ourselves accessible to our clients, and assure we maintain our personal service values.

We are proud to support this conference which is all about connecting and making sure that as the world grows, as business gets faster, as lives get busier - we always take that time to find ways of maintaining and building strong relationships one client at a time.


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Social Media for Social Good - Extending Corporate Social Responsibility to Individuals

This week I traveled to New York City to participate in #Brandsconf at the 92nd Street Y. The theme was the Humanization of Brands.

As business people when we think about Brands and Social Media we often focus on our industry, our goals, and marketing.

I enjoyed the experience at #Brandsconf because in addition to presenting an amazing array of speakers for leading corporate brands, there were also individuals speaking on personal branding, and panels representing social causes.

Epic Change Panel #Brandsconf #140conf #Epicchange

This years line up allowed for a thorough representation of all angles of Social Media Branding.

One of the most notable uses for social media I have witnessed is when we connect together and use social media as a tool to drive change.

The Aviva Community Fund Campaign is one great example which we at Ogilvy have been proud to participate in.

I was really pleased to see Social Good Initiatives represented at this week's Brandsconf. Several presentations really drove home what we can accomplish when we join together and spread the word to benefit wonderful causes.

Giving away a Million Dollars! Spreading Social Good with @AvivaCF

What would you do with 1 million dollars to promote positive change in your community?

Thats the question Aviva has asked for the past 3 years at the launch of the Aviva Community Fund Competition. Its a great question, begging to be answered, answered because when you tell them, they are ready and willing to give you a piece of that $1million to see that change through for your community.

 Aviva Community FundWhat is interesting, however, is that I am pretty sure most people would love to have a million dollars, there are so many engaged activists out there fighting for change in thier community citing lack of funds as a reason, but as I jumped into the game as a broker, to look for someone in my area to support (Westmount) , I was hard pressed to find anyone!

 "Well, wait a minute here, "  I thought to myself, " I know we have an incredibly active community working on change, so where is everyone?"

I immediately started pumping out messages on Twitter and Facebook, asking people to join in and get involved - come get your million dollars! - Crickets.

So, I took it to the next level and "hit the streets" calling and emailing community groups we had heard about, or that we as a company have supported over the years, and asked them to jump into action and reach for their piece of the million, offering support. 

 Social Media is such an amazing tool for Social Change, we started using it to spread the word and started to see the results.

Team Ogilvy
My Personal Lines Insurance staff were asked to spread the word in their day to day dealings, asking our clients if they supported any causes that might be of interest. We really wanted to find some local Westmount or Montreal groups to lend our support. After all, we are part of this community for over 85 years, naturally we want to support local initiatives.

Aviva Tweet Milaspage Mila Araujo Community

 So where is Westmount represented in all this?

Westmount Aviva Community Fund Screen Shot Nothing in Westmount October 5th 2011
As you can see by the map above, no initiatives are based in Westmount!

We continue to put out a call to local Westmount organizations. In such a community of prominent philanthropists, I am sure the causes are there, they just need to get involved and apply

So if you have an idea, or you know of a cause we are asking you to please check out the Aviva Community Fund  Then, let us know about it!

We created a hashtag on Twitter #Teamogilvy  (all you need to do is tweet from your account, and include " #Teamogilvy" in your tweet to show up in our list.

We are also using our @OgilvyInsurance5 and @OgilvyGivesBack4 Twitter accounts to promote!

We want to support you, thats what community is all about!

After much communication, we had the honor of receiving submissions via Aviva Community Fund from the following great causes - although not in Wesmount, they are in the Montreal Area, and we are happy to offer our broker support. We encourage you to check them out, as well as the other worthy causes on the Aviva site, and please cast your votes.

You can vote every day, and the community projects that get the most votes, move on to the next round. This is really a competition driven by the people, and that is what makes it so great.

This is truly an opportunity for you to get involved and be the change you want to see in your community!

Stop Bullying kids children art support Community Giving Here are some community projects that represent candidates that took  steps to apply and are dedicated to community change.

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Riding the Roller Coaster of Twitter - The Journey to Impact.

What I have observed on Twitter over the past couple of weeks has been truly remarkable. We are on a roller coaster - an incredible journey. Normally we glide on our tracks, smoothly and gently absorbing the information that we seek, then suddenly out of the "ordinary" feeds that we have each put together for ourselves (carefully comprised of tweets from people we admire, like minded souls, leaders in our fields of interest, et cetera) come a few stand out events which jolt us through twists and turns sending us from exhilaration to devastation and back. Many of these events shock  and unite us, regardless of an individuals focus or who they follow. Of late, the twists and turns of chaos, insanity, triumph and sadness were: Bahrain, Charlie Sheen, Libya, the Japan Quake, then as of yesterday, the dear Elizabeth Taylor (@DameElizabeth). We have been through so much! Did I forget anything? Certainly, but you get the picture.

We spend a lot of time thinking about social media and sharing our stories, studies, concepts, plans, how to's, how "not to"'s - I could go on... We debate whether social media is marketing or PR, where does it fit into our business plans, who is best equipped to handle SM projects...What's your brand? Do you know what a brand is? How to brand yourself, etc. etc.

Are you spinning yet?

At the end of the day, yes we are making progress, YES we are making change, but in the face of the realities of the world around us, I think it is worth taking a look at where we are really at.

One of my favorite posts resulting from the Japan Quake was Social Media 4 Social Good: A Tsunami of Care by Ty Sullivan. This is truly an excellent read. I loved it because it made a strong and very true point, when your homes are destroyed and the ocean has swept over your land, leaving death, devastation and chaos everywhere the significance of your Klout score washes away. The only positive thing you are truly left with as you look at the videos and pictures of what is left of the earthquake zone is the amazing resilience of the human spirit. Immediately, those that could, used social media to disseminate information, learn what was happening...and thankfully, socially conscious people wishing to help in the face of this tragedy started tweeting ways to help.

Ways to help.
This was when I, as a social media aficionado, was most impressed and proud. As the tweets poured through and the Facebook posts went up giving the ways for each individual to help, I was proud.

Social responsibility is extremely important to me, seeing this, and knowing that we were using our tools to jump to action was something great.

I immediately started thinking of ways that I could potentially do something through my office. Getting lost in the news stories, the updates and the true devastation, admittedly it took me a few days. I wanted something big, I wanted to do the most I could, not just text Red Cross 50 times, something better. As I read through posts like Ty_Sullivan's Social Media 4 Social Good, and saw tweets like this one from Starbucks :

We are donating ¥100 million Yen ($1.2 million USD) to the @RedCross for relief efforts in Japan. #helpJapan

I was finally inspired to know how to help. I decided that being in the insurance industry it made sense to tie in the earthquake insurance coverage directly to a donation. In fact, why not add a donation for all new sales as well. This is what we did, and I felt good. I was doing my part as an individual and as a responsible business person. When I asked my team what they thought, they loved it too. Mission accomplished.

As the days progressed from the date of the Japan quake, the tweets continued, the news stories went on, but the focus slowly started to shift. The stories, while still referencing devastation, moved naturally to results: costs, projections, etc. The donation tweets withered away.

The prominent posts no longer included the cries for help, and the world started to move on. So Social Media is like a newspaper - yes its more interactive, yes it has so many more dimensions, but the monster is the same: write current items of the day, keep the interest of the population and of course you can't have the same NEWS every day...right? Then it's not "news".

Today, David Armano, Social Media Strategist, sent something new through my tweet feed : via Fastcompany (one of my favorites), the article is called "Don't Even Bother Retweeting This: Elizabeth Taylor Overtakes Crises in Japan, Libya on Twitter"   This post completely summarized exactly what I had been thinking and observing and is a total must read. It includes some very interesting charts, the most striking is one by Crimson Hexagon, currently listed as one of the "10 Most Innovative Companies on the Web" by Fastcompany.  Take a look, the charts are worth a thousand words.

 The reality of Twitter.

We can talk about influence, clout, use Peerindex, you name it - but when it comes to "NEWS" Twitter is a machine, like any other.

I carried the messages of that brief week following the earthquake into actions that I will see through - well into the coming months, long after the story has lost media worthiness.

If we all use twitter this way: as a tool for learning, inspiring, building relationships and finding take away's, then maybe the value of Twitter and the measure of its impact truly isn't in the "scores" and the charts and the graphs, maybe it is in the human spirit - the desire to learn, the quest to evolve, to be better. Add Twitter as a resource in your personal "toolbox" and grow through it to accomplish those things that are dear to you, and not just fly with trends and the tweets.

Long after the tweet has been sent and the story has been read, the message has the ability to lock itself in fostering the social good we wish to drive, the change we wish to lead, the thoughts we wish to nourish.

Don't let Twitter fool you, the magic is not in any social media, it is in all the lives it touches just by allowing us to use it to spark thoughts.

Isn't the impact in the thoughts we provoke? The ideas we ignite and the people we become as we digest the world around us?

While the tweet is long gone, the lessons are not. Not unless we allow them to be lost. Hard as we may try, no measure of influence or chart can measure what happens when the ideas launch from Twitter and make their way into our living world. At the end of my campaign, Ty_Sullivan and Starbucks will have no way of knowing how their tweets inspired me or influenced my creativity, which lead to results - not unless I decide to send the tweet AND make sure to mention them.

The possibilites are endless, we need to enjoy the ride.

"Follow your passion, follow your heart, and the things you need will come." -Elizabeth Taylor @DameElizabeth



Additional resources & please feel free to add in comments! :)

Japan Earthquake Tsunami Disaster Useful Links Giving and Information:

8 Ways to help #Japan after Earthquake:

Care4Japan Facebook page

An excellent post addressing the power of Twitter for change. A must read! RT @dabarlow: by @MargieClayman #usguys cc/ @CaiPalmiter


Upcoming Posts on similar subjects:

"Twitter and the Call to Action"commentary based on the very interesting articlecalled  " On Twitter, no one can hear you scream." by Mark W. Schaefer    author of  "The Tao of Twitter"

The Blogosphere: Are you in it? What are you doing there?

If you are a blogger or looking to determine how you can fit blogging into your social media/marketing mix,  The Sales Lion posted an excellent and provocative read which addresses the issues of content and blog positioning. As the day progressed, comments on the blog also added to the conversation - well worth checking out : Is Your Narrow Niche Killing You, Your Blog, and Your Happiness

The concept of writing simply on one subject  can be extremely limiting of creativity. Without creativity, it is simply impossible to write a good blog. I think it is worth taking that risk to write what you are inspired to write about. This can however create a challenge, especially if the original plan for the content of a blog had a limited structure (creativity knows no bounds).

Question: What if the topics covered in your existing blog really don't seem to fit with your new post ideas?

If you have to start a new blog to allow yourself the flexibility to feel free to write about the inspiring topics, then go for it. I guarantee that if you measure the success of your “limited” blog #1 vs.  the one where you truly express your thoughts and allow your creativity to flow– you will find it will be"creative" blog #2 – the free form blog , that is going to fly. You have to consider that your first blog, may have been a springboard into the new blog that will truly allow you to express the ideas that will add value to what you share.

Another question: What do you put in your blog? The blog is the place to have the conversation, share ideas, share the experiences. Consider the following:

  • Limited structure = Website content – brochures, definitions, facts. No personality necessary. Can be integrated into a blog if the information is useful but must be balanced with some kind of commentary and placed in appropriate categories or sections.
  • Blog = creative insight, interesting material, sharing etc. Personality is a factor. You have to invest yourself in your blog. If you simply sit with a topic then force content onto your blog, not only will you be killing your creative spirit, but your readers will feel this as well.

If you are still unclear on what to do, you have to ask yourself: Is this your "substitute website" or your discussion with the world? A "website”, masquerading as a blog isn’t going to get far in the "Blogosphere".

A blog shouldn’t replace a website. It may serve the same purpose as your website, and your clients may find it as useful - but then you might want to ask yourself, why do I have a blog and a website? What is the intent for each? Reflection often gives us the answers and further direction to accomplish what we seek to do.

The Balancing Act - Make it practical

  • If you decide to go with the flow of your mind and blog: be open to change, follow your vision, provide content that is interesting to your followers. 
  • Find a way that if you are writing for several potential audiences, you make it easy to navigate.

Warning: Failure to make your posts accessible or easy to follow, may leave you lost  -for no other reason than people not understanding what they are looking at. If they cant find the content, how can they read it?

To help balance, remember that if you have different audiences, you may want to distribute the content of your blog via different targeted methods.

For example

  • Providing direct links to the areas of your blog that are relevant
  • Providing tools such as "categories" to help lead your readers on the most direct route to what they are looking for. (...Working on this part myself, now! ) 

If your content is interesting, I believe that you will have followers who will get to know your style and what you are doing.

Give the development of your blog some time. You can't start blogging today and have it all figured out tomorrow. See what kind of feedback you are getting, and work it from there.

Creativity: Creativity is something that flows naturally, if you are a thinker, and you follow information in your world or industry, then you will likely have something to think about. If it is interesting, like a good conversation, as you think about it and use the information, you will have something to say about it or explore further: This is your blog. Doesn't need to be more complicated than that.

Engage in the community. Listen, learn, think, dream...

I have a feeling, everything falls together from engagement. 

If you just write your blog as it happens, you will see the results and know what to do. It is your creation.


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You Are On a Mission.

Do you ever wonder how your social media efforts are faring?

In a very interesting post from Social Fresh, Renee Warren highlights "10 Community Manager Tools You Might Not Know". My favorite was "Mention Map" as you will see below, it makes it visually possible to see what's happening to your reach and network as you and your friends talk on Twitter. 

What's your reach?

Let's face it, every day there are fantastic new posts on finding measures of your Social Influence. It is important to be aware of what you are accomplishing, tools like these make it seem easy,for example Klout (the Standard of Influence) or twiDAQ (where people can buy shares of you in the fantasy stock market).

You can find a way to gage your reach or your influence, but how much is all this worth if your reach doesn't meet your objective? What are you really seeing? Are you interpreting the data in the right context? Having the numbers doesnt always give us the answers, we need to understand how they relate to our goals.  Leigh Drogen discussed this in realtion to an infographic of Twitter accounts and the implications of "Friends vs. Followers" as well as other Very Interesting Twitter Statistics  based on the a recent study by Sysomos

Engaging in Social Media is crucial to staying active in our world.

It is fun, it is can truly drive us to do more, and do things better.

The challenge is to always keep your vision in mind as you flutter across the tweets and the Facebook pages and the "distractions".  When you are working on building up your followers, or checking your latest score of "influence", remember to ask yourself: Why am I here? What am I seeking to accomplish? What is this telling me? Is there value to what I am doing?

If you ask yourself these questions, and always stay on your track, then you will have a sense of what tools to use and what mix of media is right for you.

Never forget your clients, the reason you are involved in the first place. Are you reaching them? Are there any measurable results? 

We are privileged to live in a global community.

I believe that what you put into this community, you will get out of it - if you stay focused.

Play your part while you have fun doing it. Don't get lost. You are on a mission, stick to it.

Previous post on Social Media: Social Media: What is your approach? Be true to your values.

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Social Media: What is your approach? Be true to your values.

We all strive to have a perfect day, sell the perfect product, say only the right things.  Unfortunately, despite all our greatest intentions or efforts, things do happen.   Ralph Savage , Business Journalist, PR Professional and Visiting Lecturer at UCLAN shared an article recently via LinkedIn:  Social Media: Squeaky Clean Image . He inquired if anyone had any thoughts on this issue, stating/asking: "It's probably time for companies to have a policy on dealing with customers spouting off in chatrooms/twitter/facebook and so on isn't it?"

I reflected and, having recently encountered a situation which touched on this, I wanted to share my response. 

As we become more active on social media, I think that it is important to actively analyze the potential for situations that could be damaging to our company's image. This is good business practice in any circumstance. On the same token, if we run our businesses with integrity, commit to upholding strong service values and ethics, then negative feedback or situations like this will not receive the buzz or attention feared - they may in fact turn into opportunities. Opportunities to show real situations and how they are favorably resolved - all in the public eye.

The world is not a perfect place , so how can we expect the social media stage to be? We have been dealing with responding to issues all along, now it is simply a matter of adapting to a new stage.

In my opinion, to succeed at this, the company's reputation, product & service need to be strong enough that the occasional outcry won't create a ruckus. Instead, readers will follow with interest.

Response has to be immediate and also in the public eye, so that the record is set straight.

  • If you know your company is having a service issue, address it proactively and let others know what you are trying to do about it. This way, if a situation comes up, you have already put it on the table.

I think that, as an organization, you also need to make a decision about when you can focus on social media. If you have a failing product line, or a servicing issue, then perhaps it is not the best move to put yourself out there. Build your core first. Make sure you are operating to your standards, then promote. That’s the most proactive action anyone can take. Anything else is simply bad business.

We recently had our first "angry fan" on our Facebook page. A client who had been denied a claim found us on Facebook and aired a very nasty commentary regarding our service, making reference to how unfair the insurer was and how mistreated he had been by our brokerage. Naturally, this post was not only alarming, but disheartening. We now had an angry follower, who was potentially risking our image.

In addition, a second issue became evident: We had left ourselves open to some very negative publicity on our fan page. We were not prepared because we had not foreseen that our clients would use our fan page to generate such harmful publicity.

A bit of background on the issue. This client was upset that his insurance claim requesting removal of mould and its subsequent damage had been denied.  He was now faced with full repair at his cost. Insurance is meant to cover sudden and accidental damage. Mold is certainly not sudden, and in his case would have taken months to develop. It is important to note that no insurer in any available market would have covered it.  His frustration and anger at the denial of the claim was misdirected. He hadn’t accepted our initial response or explanations and therefore he used another means to restore equity: he attacked our public image.

I think that this is a good time to reflect upon the idea that if we, as relationship managers, set up strong and clear means to handle complaints, and we handle them effectively within that structure, the client may not feel the need to find another way.

This is how we handled our situation.

Fortunately we monitor our pages regularly throughout the day and evening. We were able to see the post within about 2 hours of it appearing.

  • We reacted quickly.

We decided that, since the bad publicity had already gone out, we needed to control the situation in the public eye...not sweep it under a rug.

  • The president of our company replied to his post with a detailed explanation and addressed all items the client brought up. The reply was professional and genuine. We took responsibility for the situation, yet made it clear what the actual situation was. (This is where integrity and always operating by your values comes in to save the day).
  • We contacted the client by phone and directly addressed the situation. We also let him know that we had responded to him publicly.

We successfully managed the public relations challenge presented by this client.  We were happy with our reaction and public response, but still had to evaluate this new social media threat and come up with a plan.

We asked ourselves, how did we leave ourselves open to this? Had we not seen this post in time,  great damage could have been done.

  • We reviewed the settings available on our Facebook pages and made some changes controlling how users could interact with our page.
  • We closed off the ability to create new topics on the wall (disabling broadcast to all our followers in their news feeds). However, we maintained the ability for fans to comment on all posts. We took more control of our page and its capabilities (advice: know your social media tools) -  something that we should have done from the onset.  

This experience had taken us by surprise; however, it gave us a great learning experience and opportunity. We now have strategies in place to manage our social media and we make sure to be proactive in controlling how our various efforts are managed and promoted.

We are a third generation family run business. Although we have grown over the past 85 years to a point that we do not/can not run like a small "mom and pop" shop, we maintain those values in what we do every day.

We live by referral. Having lived through this situation, I believe it was the fact that we maintain our values and always strive to do our best for our clients that saved us.

By handling situations immediately and in a straightforward, honest way, I think we can all sleep better because we believe in the way we do business and in our products & services. When service issues come up, we can have faith that the disaster will not spread like fire because we will step up and do some quality crisis control.

  • We need to implement Social Media Policies within our firms, keeping in mind they must be tailored to our products and services.
  • We need to know the tools we are using and make sure that they meet the objective of what we are trying to achieve.
  • We need to have integrity. Provide good service and support to our clients every day. Recognize that this is the core of our business. 

The world will always have complainers, you can't control the world. You can take control of your world and how you approach situations and respond as an organization.

Ask yourself: What is our approach going to be? Align it with your values.

If we focus on this, maintain service levels, and product integrity, then social media will support continued success and what we do in a very positive way - every time.

Be true to your values, and this is what you will be known for.