As insurers and their agents follow customers into social media, most insurers are still determining how to best ensure compliance with regulations and business policies. In the last year, insurers started adopting social middleware solutions to empower employees and agents in social media with audit trails and usage boundaries that ensure appropriate compliance. While social middleware solutions do help insurers, employees and agents to comply while engaging in social media, insurers still need to proactively mine the conversations occurring outside of the social middleware to adequately manage compliance risks in social media. And only a listening platform with access to 100% of Twitter data can provide an insurer with reliable, consistent monitoring for compliance purposes.

The Need for Compliance Listening

First, most insurers do not directly control the social media tools their agents use. Many agents and brokers are independent; they are not employees of any insurer. As a result, when an insurer deploys social middleware, many agents will not adopt it right away, and many agents or brokers may never adopt it. That leaves a tremendous volume of agent and broker conversations that the insurer simply cannot control through middleware.

Even if an agent chooses to utilize the social middleware provided by the insurer, the middleware may not integrate all of the social utilities or properties used by the agent. For example, it may not include their blog or agency web site.

Further, insurers who block employee access to social media at work cannot control employee access to social media through personal mobile devices, or on personal time.

And social middleware solutions do not capture conversations between customers, where no employee or agent is directly involved.

In the Conversation Mining™ work that Converseon performs for clients in regulated industries such as insurance, banking, pharmaceuticals and utilities, we frequently discover customers providing each other incorrect information that the brand must work to correct. Of course, a brand can address such incorrect information only if the brand is aware of such information. And developing that awareness requires a social listening platform.

Ultimately, the only way to reliably ensure compliance with regulations and corporate policies within social media is to implement a Conversation Mining™ solution that continually or periodically mines online conversations for the types of content that can indicate a potential violation of policy.

Online Conversations Your Compliance Team Can’t See

  • Agents and brokers who do not adopt your social middleware solution
  • Customer-to-customer conversations
  • Employees who access social media through their personal mobile device, or at home

Why the Firehose Matters

If an insurer’s customers, agents or employees utilize Twitter, then the only way to reliably monitor compliance within Twitter is to use a Conversation Mining provider with access to 100% of Twitter data; and that requires an official partnership with Twitter.

As many folks have pointed out, any listening platform without the firehose can only provide insight and access to a small portion of Twitter data. On the other hand, the Twitter firehose gives a Conversation Mining provider access to 100% of the conversations occurring on Twitter.

Anyone without official firehose access must use the public API, and, as Danny Sullivan wrote on SearchEngineLand, “The Twitter API allows partners to conduct searches at Twitter automatically, to bring back data to someone based on those they’re following or tap into Twitter data in other ways. However, the API limits how much data can be requested and does not give access to everything Twitter has stored.

Therefore, if your listening provider is not an official Twitter firehose partner, you simply will not be able to access most of the conversations occurring in Twitter. Your listening solution will be incapable of mining the majority of tweets passing through Twitter, and, therefore, you will miss the vast majority of potential and actual compliance risks.

Requirements for Compliance Monitoring in Social Media

  • Listening platform with Twitter firehose
  • Query terms optimized by expert analysts to ensure a complete set of relevant conversational data
  • Analysts experienced in configuring listening platforms in regulated industries
  • Employees trained in compliance monitoring

And Converseon is the only listening platform in the recent Forrester Wave report with access to the Twitter firehose. If your listening provider asserts that they are giving you 100% of Twitter data, you should ask for documentation.

The Role of People in Compliance Monitoring

According to Twitter’s most recent estimates, approximately 90 million tweets flow through Twitter each day. And the volumes increase all the time.

In 2007, 5,000 tweets were posted each day. By 2008, up to 300,000 tweets were posted each day, and, in 2009, 2.5 million tweets flowed through Twitter every day. In the past year, Twitter volumes grew 1,400% over the previous year. As Twitter COO Dick Costolo recently confirmed, Twitter sees approximately 190 million users per month, and most everyone expects Twitter’s growth to continue.

With 90 million tweets per day (and growing), it is absolutely essential to configure your listening platform to filter out as much irrelevant data as possible, and that requires three things:

  1. Keywords framed in boolean queries,
  2. Constructed by social data analysts,
  3. Who are experienced in working with companies in regulated industries

If you simply assign someone on your team to enter keywords into your listening platform, you will be challenged to filter the data to your satisfaction. Your listening team will become inundated with tweets that match the keywords, but have no relevance for compliance purposes.

Only by using keywords framed in Boolean queries, constructed by analysts experienced in working with regulated industries, are you able to ensure the most relevant data to your compliance management team.

Converseon combines the best of automated and human analysis in our Conversation Miner™ suite, which is utilized by a wide range of leading brands to help map, monitor and understand the vast social media conversation. The Conversation Miner™ listening solutions are designed to be customized to meet specific enterprise environments to provide a central, robust and highly configurable listening platform across multiple languages, regions and organizational use cases to help create listening organizations.

In addition, Converseon was recently recognized as a Leader in a recent independent report by Forrester Research: “The Forrester Wave™: Listening Platforms, Q3 2010” (July 2010). (Free download)

The Complete Solution for Insurers

The chart below illustrates each element of a complete social media compliance management solution for insurers, which includes six important elements:

  1. Social middleware that restricts access to features based on policy, archives for compliance, and provides supporting metrics
  2. Agents and employees trained and equipped for success in social media
  3. Clear policies that are regularly updated
  4. Proactive identification of compliance and business risks from online conversations
  5. Compelling business insights mined from conversation data
  6. Compliance Management staff trained and equipped to enable compliant pursuit of business outcomes
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All insurers realize that their customers, employees and agents are engaging in social media. Most insurers want to make it easy for their employees and agents to use social media with success and compliance every day. For insurers with customers on Twitter, Converseon is the only listening platform that can give you comprehensive and reliable compliance listening within Twitter.

Converseon embeds its Twitter firehose access in all of our listening tools and research reports, so our clients can rest assured that they are reliably managing the risks inherent in thousands of employees or agents engaging with customers in the public eye online.

Insurers with an interest in comprehensive, reliable and scalable monitoring for compliance management should contact Converseon at