How Insurance Companies Are Winning At Social MediaNot every brand has a highly-desired product. Consider how many times the average consumer thinks about clothing or electronics. Now consider how many times that same person thinks about life insurance. The stats would skew far in favor of the former rather than the latter. That’s not to say that people don’t need insurance, but it’s not usually something that they love shopping for.

It’s easier to succeed in social media when you have an easily sellable product, but “unsexy” products — like insurance — tend to fall on the more challenging end of the marketing spectrum. Despite this hurdle, many brands are making strides through humor, engagement, and innovative social campaigns. Here are several examples of how insurance companies are shining on social media.

Memorable Mascots

In order to engage an audience you need to make your content more consumer-friendly. Nobody enjoys shopping for insurance. Industry jargon can be confusing, and many prospective customers get turned off by business buzzwords. Mascots make your brand more relatable, giving it a face and a personality. Many insurance companies have successfully integrated mascots into marketing and advertising campaigns. Here are just a few for inspiration.

Geico

Many companies stick with a single mascot; however, Geico has made use of several branded characters, including the infamous Geico Gecko. Although he’s only six inches tall, this gecko certainly gets people talking. The “Gecko’s Journey Across America” campaign included several interactive elements, allowing the brand to engage fans like never before. As a result, Geico saw a 101 percent increase in Twitter followers on the gecko’s account, a 98 percent increase in Facebook engagement, and 1.4 million YouTube views.

Another wildly successful branded character campaign can be found in Geico’s “Hump Day” ad, which debuted in May 2013. Within two months, the ad had amassed more than 1.62 million shares and 5.3 million views. The ad continued to see a spike in views every Wednesday since its launch, and today it has close to 23 million views. Key takeaway: focus on content that’s shareable. If you’re looking for long-term reach, don’t limit yourself to an ad so specific it’s only relevant for a short time.

Aflac

Mascots, while fantastic for generating engagement, can also help to drive exposure for your brand. Despite being a Fortune 500 company, Aflac had little brand recognition outside of its shareholders. In the 1990s, only one out of 10 people were familiar with Aflac. Now, thanks to the Aflac Duck, more than nine out of 10 people know the brand. You can read more about the decision-making process behind the duck in this interview.

As we mentioned in a previous article, the Aflac Duck went on to star in many television spots, and now its Twitter profile has more followers than the insurance company’s official account. The brand handles this imbalance by using the duck’s account to discuss some of the Aflac policies, how it processes claims, and so on. Of course, this is all done in a very consumer-friendly tone.

Progressive

Using humor (and moving away from animals), Progressive has crushed marketing campaigns thanks to its perky spokesperson, Flo. Progressive’s CMO Jeff Charney described Flo as the embodiment of the company’s people and employees. “She is relatable; she is approachable, and people know who that woman is and they can connect with her,” he said. When Flo was first introduced, she’d welcome prospective buyers to Progressive’s “Super Store.” Here, people could interact with her and make the intangible — selling insurance — tangible.

Social media was a great way for Progressive to add more dimension to Flo’s character. Her Facebook presence — which is quite large for a fictional character created by an insurance company — is fun and whimsical with only an occasional post about the product. A simple picture of Flo in a pile of leaves received more than 3,300 Likes. While the photo doesn’t scream, “buy insurance,” it helps build brand recognition and trust.

High-Quality Hashtags

Used in everything from daily online conversation to national commercials, hashtags have become a key element of marketing campaigns. Not only are hashtags a great way to reach people you aren’t directly connected with on social, but they’re also easily trackable so you can monitor the engagement of your campaign. Here are a couple of ways hashtags have elevated insurance companies’ presence online.

New York Life

Showing that the “life” in life insurance is to be taken seriously, New York Life’s #KeepGoodGoing campaign focuses on how the brand can help consumers perpetuate the good in their own lives. Using national TV spots and print, digital, and outdoor ads, the company promoted “life lessons” that illustrate in a simple, authentic way the good things people do every day. For example, one ad featured a toddler riding on the front of her mother’s bike with the lesson “#84: Be one of life’s designated drivers.”

Beyond print, the brand invited consumers to submit their own “life lessons” and other user-generated content online. Two years after the campaign’s launch, people are still using #KeepGoodGoing on Twitter and Facebook. Select stories and videos are even featured on the Keep Good Going page on New York Life’s website. The company is now considered one of the top most followed life insurance brands on Twitter with just under 150,000 followers. For comparison, competitors like Allstate top out at 49,500 followers.

Esurance

Although Esurance didn’t air a commercial during the Super Bowl earlier this year, it had a wildly successful night on Twitter thanks to its #EsuranceSave30 sweepstakes. A wise move, the company purchased the first ad after the big game and it paid off big. Here’s the premise: Esurance vowed to give away the difference in price (of the ad) to one lucky viewer who tweeted #EsuranceSave30 within 36 hours after the ad aired.

More than 200,000 entries were tweeted within the first minute of the Esurance commercial airing. That led to a 12-time spike in visits to the Esurance website in the first hours of the contest. By the end of the 36-hour window there had been 5.4 million uses of the #EsuranceSave30 hashtag, and the brand earned 261,000 new followers on Twitter — an increase of nearly 3,000 percent. Even though this was a time-sensitive campaign, it certainly was a memorable one.

The key to success for marketing “unsexy” products on social media is to use a creative campaign. As you can see in the examples above, it pays off. Focus on making your brand relatable and approachable, whether that’s through a quirky spokesperson or mascot, or a well-timed call-to-action. Most importantly, know who your target audience is, where they are, and what interests them. With those factors in place, you should have no trouble creating a successful campaign.