The Economist Summit Feedback

It’s Open’s Justin Hunt was kindly invited to speak as part of a panel discussion at last week’s Insurance Summit organised by The Economist.

The theme for the panel discussion was ‘Social Media and Its Discontents’ and was designed to take a closer look at some of the key developments that are looking to shape the insurance industry over the near future.

The session considered the fact that the evolution of social networks has presented organisations with a potential ally. When carefully considered, social media strategies can provide a host of rewards in brand management, reputation and customer engagement.

However as social media networks have also demonstrated an anarchic ability to spread ruin, revolution and redress, the panel was asked if the risks and opportunities created from social media can ever be managed.

The session was moderated by Tom Standage, Digital Editor, The Economist. Also on the panel were: Amanda MacKenzie, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Aviva; and Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer for RSA.

It was a lively discussion and Tom, Amanda and Pete had some fascinating views. The key points Justin made were that he feels social media presents an opportunity for the insurance industry to reinvent itself and restore trust in its services. Social media is rapidly becoming social production and in a networked economy, the real value is enabling customers to collaborate with you in creating, distributing, marketing and supporting your products.

Justin also pointed out that the arrival of so-called digital natives within the workplace will have a profound impact on the structures of insurance companies and how they communicate. Young people – who are highly tech literate – entering the workplace will expect and demand different methods of communications using social networking tools. This further presents an opportunity for the insurance industry to reinvent itself and use these tools to tap into the insights and information of their employees.


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Why brands can’t dismiss the impact Twitter has on PR

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Up until Twitter became mainstream, brands didn’t have to worry too much about a mass backlash – unless it made it to the papers. Now, more and more brands are slipping up when it comes to underestimating the amount of power the Twitter community has.

Already this year, a number of brands have slipped up.

H&M

H&M followed in the footsteps of others, like Paperchase, who have been accused of using designs from up and coming artists without their permission. This time designer Tori LaConsay has pointed out some striking similarities between her work and the designs on several of their home accessories.

Initially, H&M released the following statement:

“We employ an independent team of over 100 designers. We can assure you that this design has not been influenced by your work and that no copyright has been infringed.”

But after a Twitter campaign, complete with hashtag, and promotion by Regretsy, the high street store has apologised on their Facebook page to those that ‘think we have copied”.

LA Fitness

Next up to feel the wrath of the Twitter community was LA Fitness. This time, it concerned a couple who were unable to continue their 24-month gym contract as she was pregnant, he had been made redundant, and they both had to move 12 miles away without a car to commute.

LA Fitness apparently refused to let them out of the contract. It was only after several hours of pressure from Twitter users that they gave in and allowed the couple to close their contract. Sadly, this was too late for LA Fitness, whose reputation has taken a serious beating.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s attempted a Twitter campaign this week to encourage users to tweet positive messages about the brand, using the hashtag #McDStories

Sadly for them, the stories ended up being a little more like this:

#McDStories Take a McDonalds fry, let it sit for 6 months. It will not deteriorate or spoil like a normal potato. It will remain how it was

Once the hashtag was out there, McDonald’s lost all control of it. Bit of a hard lesson, and one they probably could have learnt before – it’s hardly the first time this has happened.

Claire’s Accessories vs. Tatty Devine

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a small brand highlight a very similar product that a bigger brand has released a similar version of. But Claire’s Accessories’ biggest failing was their social media approach during the crisis. The company deleted any negative post on their Facebook wall and barely mentioned the claims by Tatty Devine on their  Facebook or  Twitter pages. Sometimes, no news can be as damaging as bad news.

So, despite brands being on Twitter for a couple of years now, it’s clear some still don’t realise just how much say a Twitter community has.


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Five reasons why Pinterest is taking the world by storm

English: Red Pinterest logo

How many times over the last few weeks have you heard someone raving about Pinterest? It’s the social pin boarding site that’s taking the social media world by storm.

In fact, it’s featured in pretty much every social media prediction post from the past month.

But why is it so popular? After all, it’s not the first sharing/bookmarking/pin boarding site out there. Tumblr, Posterous, Stumbleupon, Wists, ThisNext, IHeartIt and Polyvore all do variations on this theme.

Well, here are five reasons why Pinterest is so popular.

Its simplicity is its advantage

You can’t customise your personal page, it’s not full of ugly flashing graphics and the browsing pages are thumbnails rather than full-sized images.

But this is all to its advantage. It’s clean, clear and incredibly easy to navigate.

Oh, and because they don’t have endless categories, it’s really simple to find lots of content you’ll like in one place. With more and more competition in the social media market, being simple to use is a huge edge.

It appeals to the 20-30 market

Tumblr is becoming increasingly noisy, filled with images of emo teenagers, flashy graphics of Harry Potter and Twilight and song lyrics. Stumbleupon tends to be loved by the techies looking to pass a lunch hour.

For the moment, Pinterest is a breath of fresh air. It appeals to the market which has money to spend and which loves looking at products. .

It’s invitation only – and I suspect that’s keeping out some of the more spammy users. Whether this will change when it’s out of beta remains to be seen.

The Foodies, Fashionistas and Crafters have landed

You know you’re onto something good when the big three have arrived.

The Foodies have been incredibly busy filling up Pinterest with recipes and tasty images, while the Fashionistas are sourcing the hottest new fashion trends. The Crafters share their latest finds, patterns and get a little bit giddy about craft organisation layouts.

It’s fast

Using Pinterest is fast to use, whether on the apps or directly on the website. It’s quick to browse your favourite categories, super-quick to repin something, and easy to share something using the toolbar extensions or bookmarking button. You only have to give a couple of words as a description too.

It’s heaven for businesses

There’s nothing more flattering than seeing your product featured on Pinterest, and if the right person repins it you could see a huge amount of interest.

Additionally, it’s proving to be excellent for bloggers. Pin an image from your blog, whether it’s a product, photograph, plate of food or fashion look, and if it’s popular you could see plenty of repins – and people clicking through to find out more.

For the moment, it’s proving to be one of the most visually interesting ways to spend your lunchtime on the internet. Hopefully the quality will stay high as more and more people join.


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Time for a social media spring clean?

How often do you go to register to a new site, and see Facebook and Twitter as options for signing in? It’s an easy option, saves you time inputting all your details and can also help you find other Facebook and Twitter people in your network on the site.

Handy, but just how many sites do you give permission to? Depending on the site, you can be giving them access to a LOT of your personal information.

Considering the security issues Facebook often faces, this may not be a good thing.

If you’re not sure who you’ve given access too, you might want to visit http://mypermissions.org. Visit the site then click on the icons for your favourite social media sites. As a cautious user, I didn’t expect to see too many sites with permission on my Facebook account. In fact, 50+ can access my details! I suspect many of those are from when I’ve used an application within Facebook. Scary.

I only checked Twitter a couple of weeks ago, so I wasn’t expecting to see many on there. But I was still surprised to see so many new ones. I’ve signed up to quite a few sites in the last few weeks, but I’ll be a lot more careful now.

Overall, I’m shocked by how much personal information I’m giving away. While businesses are unlikely to use it as often, it’s still worth having a spring clean of your accounts.

It is somewhat ironic, though, that you have to sign in to see which sites have your details..


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