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Vote to Get Hearsay Social on Stage at SXSW 2016

Head over to the SXSW PanelPicker and give our two proposed sessions, “The Social Business Imperative” and the “Rise of the Social Employee,” a big thumbs-up!
Vote-PanelPIcker-Idea-2016-InstagramFor those in entertainment, technology and marketing, the annual SXSW music, film and interactive festival is one of the hottest conference tickets of the year. Thousands descend onto Austin, Texas, for a week of networking, learning and inspiration with some of the biggest leaders and talents in their respective industries. Thanks to your votes, Hearsay Social has been honored with the opportunity to present at SXSW Interactive every year since 2013. (See our 2013, 2014 and 2015 recaps.)
But! We need your help to bring our CEO and founder, Clara Shih, and other members of the Hearsay Social gang back to Austin in 2016, where we hope to share our vision on how predictive analytics and big data are changing the way we do business, and how social media is redefining the employee/employer relationship.
Our proposed sessions for SXSW Interactive 2016 are:
“Staying Relevant: The Social Business Imperative”Today’s buyers share more details than ever before about themselves, their preferences, and their opinions about your business online in real-time. This offers unprecedented data from which you can capture sentiment, respond quickly, and make improvements. As such, the sales process is no longer linear; it’s a non-linear, omnichannel path where integrating social business into the buyer’s journey across all mobile and digital channels, and across marketing, sales, and service, is mandatory. In this presentation, learn how big data and predictive technology are transforming the way we do business.
“Rise of the Social Employee: Rewards and Risks”With and often without your approval or knowledge, employees are talking about your company on social media with friends, in public, for all your customers to see. Employee social engagement can be wonderful brand ambassadorship, providing others a genuine glimpse into your company’s mission and influence. But disgruntled or careless employees also can share damaging information that can profoundly impact your brand. In this presentation, learn how to empower social employees to evangelize authentically on your company’s behalf while ensuring they follow guidelines to mitigate brand and company risk.
Head over to the SXSW PanelPicker today to register and vote for “The Social Business Imperative” and the “Rise of the Social Employee.” Voting opened this week and runs through Sept. 4. Want to do even more? Add a comment and/or share your support with your social networks by clicking on the “share this idea” buttons on the left-hand side of each session entry. Thank you!
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Technology, the changing workplace, and entrepreneurship at Web Summit

Earlier this month, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih took center stage at Web Summit in Dublin to discuss the future of business with the technology industry’s most influential leaders–including Peter Thiel (Founder, Founders Fund, @peterthiel), Padmasree Warrior (Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, Cisco, @padmasree), Drew Houston (Founder, Dropbox, @drewhouston), and many more.

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih at Web Summit 2014
Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih and Radius CEO Darian Shirazi chat with Caroline Hyde of Bloomberg at Web Summit 2014.

In their “centre stage” discussion, Clara Shih (CEO and Founder, Hearsay Social, @clarashih) and Darian Shirazi (Founder, Radius, @darian314) sat down with Caroline Hyde (Business Correspondent, Bloomberg, @CarolineHydeTV) to talk about big shifts in technology over the past decade, the changing face of the workplace, and some of the best words of wisdom they’ve gained as entrepreneurs.
Watch the full session here:


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Ignore, innovate or die: A new era for financial services firms and advisors

At the recent LIMRA Annual conference, innovation and opportunity took center stage. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Leadership Challenge: Connecting in a Distracted World,” highlighting for executive-level conference attendees the importance of evolving their firms to grow their business in today’s digital era.

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Left to right: Joe Monk (State Farm), Rand Harbert (State Farm), Bob Kerzner (LIMRA), Clara Shih (Hearsay Social), Michael Lock (Hearsay Social), Scott Davison (OneAmerica), Rino D’Onofrio (RBC Insurance), and Kenny Massey (Modern Woodmen).

Presenting at the conference were industry speakers and moderators including Scott Davison (President and CEO, OneAmerica), Joe Monk (chief administrative officer, State Farm Life), Bob Kerzner (President and CEO, LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, Inc.), Kenny Massey (President and CEO, Modern Woodmen of America), Deanna Mulligan (President and CEO, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America), William Wheeler (President, Americas, MetLife), and Larry Zimpleman (Chairman, President, and CEO, Principal Financial Group), as well as external speakers including Lou Gerstner (former Chairman and CEO, IBM Corporation), Clara Shih (Founder and CEO, Hearsay Social), David Plouffe (SVP for Policy and Strategy, Uber), Don Yaeger (President, Greatness), and Jason Dorsey (The Gen Y Guy, The Center for Generational Kinetics).
Speakers focused on a few key consistent themes throughout the conference:

Adapting to changing demographics

One trend that fueled the topic of change was Millennials. According to LIMRA studies, 37% of Gen Y are unemployed, marrying later, and less likely to trust firms and individuals. In spite of all that, Millennials are more likely to buy life insurance than any other generation. They represent 80 million individuals spending $1 trillion in the US alone, 70% of whom want to learn more about financial education.
Conference speakers such as Bob Kurzner, David Ploufe and Jason Dorsey recognized that this segment of consumers represents a huge opportunity for financial services firms – especially their advisors, but that Millennials are going to buy differently than Boomers.

Adapting to the new buyer journey

Reaching Millennials will require very different methods than past tactics of “smiling and dialing.” For example, Millennials will decide to refer individuals and professionals they trust based on their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. In addition, Millennials consider phone calls an invasion of privacy, preferring engagement via text, email (only reading the subject line, of course), and social media.


Millennial buying drivers also differ, requiring financial education about different topics than their parents. According to Deanna Mulligan of Guardian Life, Millennials seek a secure platform for paying off loans and/or taking care of parents as opposed to buying a home and saving for the college education of their kids – more traditional priorities from the past.

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Left to right: Bob Kerzner (LIMRA), Deanna Mulligan (Guardian Life), William Wheeler (MetLife), and Larry Zimpleman (Principal Financial Group).

The implication is that advisors need to adapt to consumer changes – both in how they engage and where they engage.

Adapting to technology

With the rapid emergence of cloud technology, mobile devices, and social media over the past several years, consumers – and not just Millennials – now expect different things from businesses. The conference highlighted key technologies that require advisors to adapt to stay relevant in the digital era:

Social media, mobile, & big data

Kicking off the conference, Bob Kerzner highlighted how industry firms need to enable agents to be authentic and engage as individuals, not as brands, especially since the financial services industry is among the least trusted industry (per a recent Gallup survey). Deanna Mulligan also said that social media is required to be where clients are and that social media is key to engaging with clients. Larry Zimpleman agreed and offered that, for the middle and upper income clients, there are primarily two locations to reach potential retail clients: in the workplace and on social media.


The good news is that, based on a LIMRA study earlier this year, 93% of life insurance companies now have social media programs in place vs. 55% in 2010. 70% of surveyed life insurance firms now have a social business program for their advisors.


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Clara with Kenny Massey (Modern Woodmen) on the main stage at LIMRA Annual.

Clara Shih, in her presentation, “The Future of Distribution and Marketing – Staying Relevant in the Digital Era”, discussed how today’s consumers and customers have vastly different client expectations than those from the past. This has primarily been driven over the past five years by rapid growth of technology acceptance, from the Internet to mobile devices to social media. This expectation isn’t driven by competitors in the financial services industry, but rather by the likes of Amazon, Starbucks and Uber.
Clara also highlighted for the audience how social media addresses three key challenges that the Life Insurance industry faces today, including (1) changing client expectations, (2) an aging agent force coupled with the generational gap between agent and new clients, and (3) an outdated distribution model that needs to increase productivity at scale.
Finally, Clara challenged the leadership in the room to innovate beyond social within their firms, revealing the opportunity to enable a true omni-channel experience for clients as well as the opportunity to leverage technology for information discovery, data mining, and informed interactions to simplify the customer experience from signing up to underwriting to customer service.
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Clara with Kenny Massey (Modern Woodmen) on the main stage at LIMRA Annual.

With today’s big data & predictive analytics technology being more business-friendly along with the right models and data specialists, the industry has the opportunity to apply behavioral economics and data mining to better understand their clients.
In closing, Shih offered three final actions that leaders can take to lead their organizations for success in the digital age:

  1. Commit as management
  2. Incorporate into business process – training, prospecting, etc.
  3. Let early adopters do the talking

Like other industries, the financial services and insurance industry has three choices: ignore these trends and opportunities, innovate, or die. Clearly, the sentiment during and after the conference was that life insurance companies must embrace technology, adapt and integrate this into their training and internal processes, and enable their advisors to engage their clients at scale through technology, strong leadership, and innovation partners.
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Social Business Innovation Summit 2014: Bringing Financial Services and Silicon Valley leaders together

UPDATE: See our recap of the Summit here.

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Next week, Hearsay Social is proud to be hosting its second annual Social Business Innovation Summit in San Francisco, bringing together executives and thought leaders from across the financial services and technology industries. CEOs, heads of sales and distribution, CMOs, compliance officers, and more will be traveling from across the U.S. and Europe to join us for the Summit.
Kicking off the Summit on Thursday, May 8th, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@ClaraShih) will share her perspective on how the financial services industry can embrace innovation, as well as the role that social media, mobile, and big data play in transforming the client experience. Every sector today, from hospitality to retail, is being disrupted by new digital technologies, but we truly believe that the relationship-based business of financial services is best poised to take advantage of these innovations.
SBIS_HeadshotsWe’re not the only ones who think so. In two special fireside chats, we’ll hear executives Eileen McDonnell (Chairman, President and CEO of Penn Mutual) and John Taft (CEO of RBC Wealth Management — US) share their views on the state of the financial services industry, their vision on how technology complements the business, and how to build a culture of innovation.
We’re also honored to be welcoming Silicon Valley stalwarts — including Joe Fernandez (CEO and founder of Klout, @JoeFernandez), Ralf VonSosen (Head of Marketing for Sales Solutions at LinkedIn, @rvonsosen), and Bryan Schreier (General Partner at Sequoia Capital, @schreier) — who will be discussing social influence, the future of social networks, and what to expect overall from technology in the coming decade.
In addition to several other leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs–Bill Ready (CEO and founder, Braintree, @williamready), Aaron Vermut (CEO, Prosper, @vermooti), Bo Lu (CEO and founder, FutureAdvisor, @bolu)–and financial advisors, we are thrilled at the caliber of speakers and attendees that will be joining us to share their views on entrepreneurship, technology trends in financial services, and how to succeed in the digital era.
For those of you unable to make it, be sure to follow the conversation on Twitter at #SBIS14 for live coverage and check our blog for key takeaways from this year’s Social Business Innovation Summit.
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Live updates from the LIMRA Distribution Conference

We are thrilled to be here in Orlando for the first day of the LIMRA Distribution Conference. Please check back here for real-time updates from the most interesting sessions and conversations.

Distribution Design: an Executive Perspective
Rand Harbert, Chief Agency, Sales & Marketing Officer, State Farm Insurance
Catherine L. Honor, President, RBC Insurance Services, Inc.
Duane M. Morrow, CMO and EVP, Primerica Life Insurance Company
James W. Kerley, LLIF, Moderator, President, LL Global Services, Inc.

The opportunity to insure North Americans remains an enormous opportunity, according to learnings from this panel. Around 70 million North Americans  have no life insurance at all.
At the same time, the industry faces a distribution crisis: the American population continues to grow, but the American agent population has declined and is aging. Increasingly, agents are not diverse enough to match population growth in the general population, particularly among women and Hispanics.
Rand Harbert, EVP and Chief Agency & Marketing Officer at State Farm, specifically spoke to the “rise of the consumer.” In the mobile and social era, consumers want to be served how and when they want, meaning the industry must adapt to serve. Specifically, insurance organizations should focus on strengthening their multichannel efforts to reach and connect with this new brand of consumers.

Better, Faster, Stronger – New World of Predictive Analytics for Insurance
Richard Berry, Deloitte Insurance Practice

Marketing, technology, and service in the insurance and financial services industries are changing in substantial ways thanks to a new world of predictive analytics, according to Richard Berry, Deloitte.
Underwriting is the first major area to be affected by predictive analytics. Traditionally, data sets used to predict insurance risk include demographics (age, gender), face value and duration of policy, alcohol/tobacco use, adverse medical history/family health, annual income, and MIB. Today, traditional data can be combined with “new” data sets such as household data and consumer purchase and financial investment behavior. The most innovative data sets today can also tie in social media behavior data and friend network behavior.
Predictive analytics can be used not only for calculating risk in pricing but can also be used upfront to save time, money, and client disappointment. For example, some data sets such as personal medical history are costly to obtain; upfront analysis identifies factors that may have a bigger impact than medical history for a particular client, giving the insurer the option to skip medical history altogether. This saves the insurer and producer both time and money. Coincidentally, it’s also better for the client: if the client qualifies, they still appreciate a shorter, less onerous application process. In the case of non-qualification, we can reduce client disappointment since advisors won’t then sell clients on policies for which they are likely to be declined.
Second, predictive analytics is also immensely valuable in marketing because it helps with client segmentation. Data helps predict which insurance policies a prospective customer is likely to be interested in, enabling you to focus on marketing those policies alone. Conversely, insurers can avoid marketing to anyone who is not likely to qualify for a policy, saving time and effort on all sides.
Third, predictive analytics can be used to identify which customers are most likely to lapse as well as whether the insurer needs to focus retention resources on keeping the customer. On the other hand, if a customer is at low risk of attriting then fewer resources need to be used for retention.
In the IA market, predictive analytics can be used to identify which independent agents are most likely to sell the most. You have the best data on your longest-standing, top-producing agents, allowing you to identify unique attributes that might indicate which newer agents have the same potential.

Thanks for reading! If you’re attending the LIMRA Distribution Conference, please take a moment to stop by the Hearsay Social booth and say hello.

Be a spooky company: use your customer data to be scary helpful

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse:  the proliferation of readily available customer data has given marketers more to work with than ever before, but it’s hard to sift through so much. The problem is so pervasive that data management could very well be the one thing in our era that makes or breaks companies, whether they’re tech-focused or not.
Hosted in Denver, CO, Defrag Con is an event focused on big data, social media, and enterprise software. It was a perfect opportunity for me, Hearsay Social’s local data-monger, to meet with others from the industry and see what they are working on.
Most of the talks involved boring (exciting!) stuff like API integration and Hadoop that only the super tech savvy will care about. There were, however, a few takeaways that I would like to share because I believe they will affect how we think about enterprise social media in 2012:

  1. Social businesses should be spooky, not creepy
    What is the difference? Creepy companies have a lot of data on their customers but don’t do much with it. Spooky companies, on the other hand, use what they know to become so helpful that it’s scary! We should use the knowledge we have about our customers to tailor their experience with us. We should combine our business records with their profiles to make become more helpful than ever before.
  2. Data isn’t the same thing as common sense
    While some things we learn from data might seem obvious, things always seem obvious once we know them. As we continue to adapt how we engage our customers on social media, let’s not forget to keep an eye on the data. Maybe Wednesday is a good day to post for some industries, but things might be different for you.
  3. Data and computers are growing, but there are still only 24 hours in the day
    As we gather more data than ever before and crunch it faster, we can easily hit data overload. The key to success isn’t more data, but more useful data. Drawing simple actionable insights from data should always be the goal.

Do you keep an eye on your social media data? Have you ever felt data overload? Let me know – leave a comment below.