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Here is the first of our series of guest blogs.

Following yesterday's announcement of the launch of social media platform Goggle Buzz to rival Twitter and Facebook, Peter Dunkley of Total Objects explains how the reinsurance market can use these platforms to their advantage:

Web 2.0 is a term that has been with us for some five years now and, although there is as yet no universal definition, it might be loosely viewed as introducing a greater social aspect to the internet.

The emergence of web 2.0 technologies has generated much interest, or at least hype, seemingly without creating too many practical applications - and certainly not in the reinsurance sector. However, it is possible for reinsurers to use these technologies to good, practical effect - you just need to think about how to apply them in a reinsurance context.

Google's new social media platform appears to be a defensive response to the gradual move away from email as a communications tool by the social media savvy generation, who are now using Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with their friends and even business contacts.

Run out of Gmail, Buzz allows people to share content such as photos and video with their friends in a way that is very familiar to users of Facebook. It does provide one interesting feature, which is the ability to aggregate social media content - although this is limited to Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, and Google Reader at the moment - but not Facebook.

How does it apply to the world of work, and in particular, reinsurance? At the moment there is little to recommend it. However, many business folk are using Gmail as their main email aggregator. This means that it might, moving forward, provide an instant multi-media communications tool for smarter businesses. If, as is suggested, an enterprise version is to be launched, this might be interesting if it closely integrated with other Google Apps to extend the capability of what are very effective, low cost productivity and collaboration tools.

So what else does social media have to offer the reinsurance community?

Let's look at the options.


Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia created by a massive and largely unknown group of volunteers across the world. The concept allows content to be created iteratively, backed up by discussion boards, an audit trail and tools that allow you to 'watch' as changes are made to particular pages.

It is particularly good as a framework for developing and disseminating new ideas and research. If you are considering a new approach to IBNR, for example, you can place the outline of the concept on the wiki and invite colleagues to review and contribute.


Twitter is a micro-blogging site, with posts limited to the 140 characters allowed by SMS messages, it has become known for mind-numbingly trivial where-am-I-now posts ("In the queue at Starbucks on St Mary Axe looking forward to a skinny soya milk latte") and the abbreviated musings of celebs such as Stephen Fry.

The use of Twitter for business has been marketing-led, not altogether successfully, but more interesting uses can be found for its ability to reach an interested audience quickly (and cost-effectively). In the reinsurance market, for example, Twitter could be used by the IT department to notify users of outages to the email system, or to provide immediate news of catastrophes, etc.

Facebook to Linkedin

Social networking sites such as Facebook can be used as a platform for communications and collaboration with customers, business partners and even competitors. The Group functions allow you to establish communities of interest and, although you could do this on your own website, using Facebook provides a neutral location as well as practically eliminating the time and cost of development and support.

There are other, more business-focused, social networking sites such as Linkedin and Xing, the former being the most established. Linkedin is like a Facebook for business. It supports many specific-interest groups and, perhaps most significantly, an opportunity for the web-savvy to recruit without agency costs. Like most of these sites, it doesn't cost anything to join for the basic level of membership.

All of these new tools and technologies are relatively easy to master and cheap to implement. They can, if used smartly, make a real difference to your business. They can improve internal and external communications and collaboration and are worth exploring.

Peter Dunkley is marketing director at Total Objects, the insurance and reinsurance software specialists

Don't forget to follow Reinsurance on twitter and LinkedIn

Comments (2)

Mairi Mallon:

Hi Peter
Thanks for the info - good blog. We help insurance and reinsurance companies (and the companies and jurisdictions that serve them) formulate social media strategies, and have found blogs the most effective tools for building reputation. For good examples, go to GC Capital Ideas (Guy Carpenter) and Zurich Risk Solutions (Zurich).
Hope this helps!

Net Chuck:

Facebook remains very popular even though Google has launched Buzz.

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