How New York Life Created a Winning Social Strategy

1911676_10152294915519452_693878621_nInsurance companies aren’t necessarily known for cutting edge online marketing strategies. New York Life, a popular life insurance company, apparently didn’t get that memo. They’ve created a sensible, winning approach to social media that many brands can learn from.

New York Life sees social media as a tool for providing useful and interesting content about momentous life milestones and financial well-being. They’re not silly, they’re not overly clever. They are, in a word, practical. And, this approach is paying off. They have the largest Twitter and Facebook following in the industry, by leaps and bounds.

“We want to make our brand top-of-mind through social for important life events,” head of social media marketing and strategy, Dipayan Gupta, explains. “But it’s not sales driven; it’s a conversation — I think it’s really important to establish a conversation outside of the sales cycle.”

New York Life’s social strategy centers on the premise of sharing information that’s actually useful to consumers. To accomplish this goal, New York Life shares content from around the Internet, as well as their own internally generated content. They’re known to tweet articles from reputable news organizations as well as creating helpful guides like “Mutual Funds 101.”

Though the 169-year-old company is the largest mutual life-insurance company in the US with about $381 billing in assets under management, the social team is just four people – Gupta and three staffers. Each day, the team starts by scouring the Internet for share-worthy content. The team thinks of what they would like to see, as Internet users, not how they can push their products.

“We don’t just talk about ourselves; we are talking about financial responsibility in general,” Gupta says. This means that they also don’t try and jump on the bandwagon for all of those events and trends that probably don’t align with their brand. So, you won’t see New York Life plugging into National Cake Day, or obsessively trying to gain favor during the Oscars.

The New York Life team wants to encourage conversations about family, and the future. To do that, they try to make New York Life relevant on social when people are making major life decisions, like getting married, having kids, or caring for an elderly parent. This conversation helps with brand equity, and also allows New York Life to learn more about what its consumers want and need. Social media is the “touchpoint,” Gupta says, a way to “do their homework” on the consumer.

For example: New York Life launched a campaign called #KeepGoodGoing, a way to share branded content about consumer’s personal life stories. They create in-house content for the hashtag (like videos) and then encourage consumers to share their own stories using the hashtag on Facebook and/or Twitter.

The approach is calm, and fairly quiet, but though they may not have the megaphone like reach of a brand like Domino’s, New York Life is doing very well on social. They began getting serious about social in 2010, and have since amassed more than 100,000 Twitter followers and over 500,000 Facebook followers, the most of any life insurance brand.

The takeaway for other brands? That with useful, interesting content, a willingness to share other content from around the web, and a little patience, social media can really pay off.

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