The health insurance industry has not been the first to jump onto the social media bandwagon. For a number of reasons, social media presents some problems for insurance companies, both in the marketing arena and the information arena.
For example, there are a plethora of privacy regulations governing what can and can’t be exposed about a specific patient. When you’re on social media, you’re about as public as you can be.
In a related challenge, there is also a government regulated, complex approval system for any communication from the insurance industry to the public. Each piece of communication, including social media messages, has to complete the approval process, which can take weeks. Not the typical turnaround time for a status update!
Also, if you are attempting to answer specific questions with a medical professional, you’re taking a qualified nurse or doctor away from their traditional duties, and with many medical facilities understaffed, it may just not seem important enough.
However, there are some good arguments to be made for including social media in a health insurance marketing and information plan.
- Access — many people who are daunted by forms, lines and technical language are completely comfortable logging into Twitter or Facebook. South Carolina is looking at using social media to reach Medicaid and Medicare customers.
- Also, many people will know exactly how to find a company on Facebook, but have trouble remembering your web address. They can get questions answered more quickly through social media.
- Some Companies are Already There – with the popularity of social media, even an industry with obstacles like the health insurance industry’s will find some early adopters. They are out there, with blogs, Q & A columns, and customer service.
- The Customers are using Social Media – Customers comparison shop, seek information, and communicate with others via social media. Health insurance companies seeking to be relevant may need to join in.
- A “Friendlier” Feel. Health insurance companies have the image of being distant and inaccessible, not to mention unresponsive, in many cases. A presence in social media could soften that image.