Obviously social media has been integrated into nearly every industry from automotive to zoology. Some markets such as sports, music, and travel have pretty much had free reigns in terms of being able to experiment with little or no oversight. Other industries though, particularly financial and healthcare, have had to ensure that social media activities conform to a highly regulated set of guidelines. This can sometimes lead to organizations taking a "wait and see" approach with social media before jumping in.
In our recent Social Media News Survey Report, we found that people are undeniably using social media to monitor, consumer, and share news. The online newsroom is no longer just for journalists, but can be used as a platform to position your organization as a thought leader in your industry. Social media can be used as a listening channel, a distribution network, and as a tool to gain insight on what your customers need.
Cigna, a healthcare services company, over the past several years has rolled out an impressive, effective, and integrated social media strategy within their online newsroom. I had the chance to conduct an email interview with Sarah Lindsay, one of the leaders that helped to create and implement that strategy, in an effort to get her thoughts and discuss the effectiveness that they have measured with the hopes that other healthcare and medical service companies could learn from Cigna's successes.
The very first topic that I wanted to discuss with Sarah was Cigna's use of a "social media landing page" to highlight and promote all of their various social channels. And, there are a bunch! Cigna was one of the first companies to create this level of integration within their online newsroom and it has proven to be successful as a "one-stop-shop" for all of Cigna's social activities.
Following is what Sarah had to say about their social media landing page:
"Cigna wants to be where our customers are. As part of our coordinated social media strategy, we recognized a communications need from our customers, media, and employees for a centralized place to find everything. The social media landing page, launched in January 2011, essentially created a directory of our social media channels to help people quickly locate, track, and engage in our latest announcements, campaigns, and events. In creating a "living" page, we also had the capability to provide a snapshot of what's happening in that moment in Cigna's social media community."
The Cigna social media landing page can be found at: http://newsroom.cigna.com/socialmedia
Next, I wanted to get a better understanding of Cigna's use of Twitter and more importantly hear from Sarah on their use of multiple Twitter accounts. I had written about this last year in a post on our Online Newsroom Research blog entitled "Is One Corporate Twitter Account Enough?" and Sarah was able to shed some light on Cigna's use of multiple Twitter accounts.
"In addition to Cigna's main twitter account, @Cigna, the company also hosts handles for our Internet customer service team, careers organization and for a specialized medical group located in Arizona. When @Cigna transitioned from a pilot strategy to an active one in December 2009, the social media team began coordinating with our customer service team parters to respond to customers posting issues and questions about Cigna benefits.
Early on, we knew that customer service online was the next generation of helping our customers resolve issues or answer coverage-related questions. Together public relations and customer service formed an iCSA team (internet customer service associate) in February 2010. A strategic decision was made to consolidate Twitter responses to customers on a separate handle, @CignaQuestions. We believed our @Cigna followers followed us because they wanted consumer health and wellness information, company news, and other content in the feed. We felt responses to customers would clutter up the feed causing people to unfollow our enterprise Twitter handle.
The iCSA team today has grown to 22 employees dedicated to helping customers online. The team actively monitors Twitter for mentions of Cigna and both the corporate and brand Facebook walls every 30 minutes, 24/7 365 days a year. Since the launch of @CignaQuestions in February 2010 and Cigna Facebook pages in September 2011, the iCSA team has sent out 2,559 offerings for help. To date, of the 510 customers that responded, 407 cases were closed with customer satisfaction."
Pretty impressive, not only from the customer service side and numbers side, but also the thought that went into the strategy and the measurement techniques that they have put in place to ensure proper analytics.
My next question revolved around the use of multimedia -- specifically podcasts and YouTube videos - which is a big part of the Cigna online newsroom and their social media efforts. I asked Sarah about the process of creating and managing the multimedia as well as any successes she could share with me.
"Understanding the changing newsroom and media dynamic, we identified the need to reduce written content and replace it with video and podcasts during our online newsroom redesign launched January 2011. The general public and reporters aren't interested in reading pages of content, especially on the go. The communications team goal has been to make it easier for our newsroom visitors to consume information.
The redesign allowed us to embed YouTube videos and podcasts from existing channels online, while capturing the analytics of online traffic. Embedding multimedia, rather than a direct upload, aligned with the search engine optimization strategy and complemented our social network analytics goals. According to Google and social network analytics, we've seen trends of increased time on pages and increased views/downloads of multimedia. This indicates successful integration into the newsroom and strengthens our communications strategy of delivering information in forms our customers and the media prefer."
Cigna's work with integrating social media into their online newsroom and using their online newsroom as a centralized communication center has certainly paid off in terms of success stories, efficiency, and shows not only journalists and bloggers, but also employees and customers that Cigna listens and makes changes based on what they hear.
My hope is that some of the successes that Cigna has been able to achieve can also be achieved by you and your communications teams as you manage and consistently upgrade your online newsroom. If a healthcare company steeped in regulatory oversight and compliance can make it work, I'm sure your communications team can as well.