State Farm Insurance: A Smart Social Media Case Study Combining Old and New



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State Farm Insurance* was founded by a retired farmer in 1922, but that hasn’t stopped them from doing an exemplary job of navigating the new marketing landscape of 2011. The combination of highlighting their core brand attributes and reacting in real time to customer feedback, while leveraging a variety of social media channels, has proven to be a very effective strategy.

We probably all remember their jingle, written by Barry Manilow in 1971, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”.  Their current tv ads still use that line, but have incorporated a new twist which fits perfectly with the idea of real time marketing: “State Farm agents are there when you need them”. The humorous ads, which have all been posted to YouTube, show agents appearing magically when customers are in trouble and sing the jingle.  And people seem to love these ads, as they have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times; in fact one, the anniversary jingle has been viewed almost half a million times. Not bad for an insurance company commercial that didn’t even debut at the Super Bowl.

However, even this successful example of leveraging owned and paid media is not the most compelling part of their strategy. Here’s what I really love: one of their 11,000 twitter followers, @JohnP, tweeted “I’ve used @StateFarm for over 10 years. They’ve yet to perform magic on my behalf. Kind of feel cheated now.” So State Farm tweeted back  “Thanks @John P for the tweet. I’m sorry that no one at State Farm has ever performed magic for you. Today we’re changing that.” And so State Farm shot a video of their Exec. Customer Service Manager performing a magic trick just for John. (watch below)

They then posted it to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.  From their almost 90,000 fans on Facebook, they received 73 likes and 36 comments.  But it’s not the quantity of those comments that’s impressive, it’s the quality. Here are a couple of posts from their fans:  “Every time I’ve needed them they’ve been there for me..I’ll never switch” to “I’ve been with State Farm since I was 17. almost 40 years. They’ve always been there for me”. Wow. There are many more and you can read them on their wall.

Now that’s some beautiful earned media. And I think most companies understand that kind of positive unsponsored sentiment is priceless.

So yes State Farm is using social media in the best ways possible, but they wouldn’t be able to do that without a history of building customer loyalty.  Any company that’s been around as long as they have and continues provide good service has nothing to fear from social media.  And that’s just business school 101.

*I am not now, nor have I ever been a customer, of State Farm Insurance.

Heather White Laird is a Sr. Director at iCrossing and a contributor to the Social Media Week Global Editorial Team.  Follow her on twitter @howlvenice

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