More life insurance companies are using social media to communicate with customers, but legal compliance continues to be a top challenge, according to a new survey by LIMRA, a global life insurance research and consulting group.
Social media use by life insurance companies rose 30 percent last year over 2010, with almost eight in 10 insurance companies using social media and another 18 percent planning to use it within the next year, LIMRA said.
"In the past, companies used their social media activity to differentiate themselves from their competitors," Todd Silverhart, corporate vice president of LIMRA markets and technology research, said in a press release. "Now -- with half of all U.S. adults using social media -- it is becoming a requirement for doing business. Those companies not on board may be passed over by consumers and find themselves at a competitive disadvantage."
Life insurance companies used social media last year mostly to expand brand awareness as well as to maintain relationships and build community, the study found. The top three platforms used were Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, with Twitter close behind. Almost half of companies said they will consider using Google+ in the next year.
The industy still faces challenges in adapting to the new technologies, but insurers appear to be getting a better handle on most of them. In 2011, only 2 percent said lack of knowledge about social media was a top challenge, compared to 38 percent in 2010.
Meanwhile, only 7 percent said last year they lacked financial resources for social media, compared to 19 percent the previous year. However, 49 percent said in 2011 they didn't have enough human resources for managing social media, compared to 31 percent in 2010.
Compliance concerns -- making sure social media content complies with federal and state laws and regulations -- continue to be a top challenge for 80 percent of companies, compared to 88 percent of companies in 2010.