We’re the Bestie

Ever think a stodgy old insurance company could be honored for its “bestie” use of YouTube? Well, it happened. Before I tell you what a bestie is, I have a story to share…

I work at MassMutual, a 158-year-old insurance company that is slowly dipping its toe in social media waters. We’re a very conservative company in a highly regulated industry… rules and consequences make us very methodical. Just getting on YouTube was monumental, let alone developing custom content to fill our YouTube account. Our saga began last spring when I contacted our sales rep at Google to help me recover MassMutual’s YouTube credentials. Apparently, someone else (either inside the company or not) had been using those creditials in an unofficial capacity.

Getting onto YouTube was slow and predictable. We put MassMutual’s current national TV spots on the channel, in addition to a marketing piece for our disability income insurance product (think Aflac, but without the duck or the budget). That summer the company was prepping a sequel to its successful Retirement Revolution documentary on PBS. YouTube offered the best bang for our social media buck in promoting RR2. Check out the channel… we continue to fill it with quick personal stories from folks planning their retirement.

Long story getting longer, MassMutual’s YouTube channel existed quietly in the background, save traffic from online advertising and fans devoted to singer/actress Mari Ijima, who stars in our latest TV commercial. It wasn’t until this month we added a link to YouTube to MassMutual’s home page.

Using a social media monitoring tool, I was alerted to a blog article proclaiming our “bestie” use of YouTube. Being a small point-of-pride, I emailed the team a link to the article. The next day, I get a phone call.

Anyone with Caller ID is guilty of screening phone calls. It’s no different in the workplace. Only here, you see exactly the name of the person you dial or who dialled you. My phone rings. I look at the display to see who’s calling. It’s a habit… either to screen calls or prep for conversations. The caller is Roger Crandall. Roger happens to be the COO/President of MassMutual and isn’t someone I interact with on a regular basis. I know, you’re shocked ;-) My immediate reaction is “Geesh. Rog must have misdialed. He’ll hang up.” But he didn’t hang up. The phone kept ringing. So now I’m getting anxious. Why is Roger calling me? We’ve never met. So not wanting Roger to be forced to leave me a voice mail to which I’d get all worked up about returning, I pick up in time to avert his call from going to voice mail.

After a hello and quick pleasantries, Roger gets down to business. He had just read the email I sent the day before (to my team, mind you) and is curious about MassMutual having a presence on YouTube. He asked all sorts of questions about what we’re doing with YouTube, how we’re promoting it and who produces the videos on the channel. He seemed pleased to learn the company is making the most of the Retirement Revolution relationship with PBS (it stars Paula Zahn, by the way), and left the door open to further conversations. It was a nice moment and a silent kind of recognition for contributing to our collective success.

So, what the heck is a “bestie”?

The folks at BlissPR, a B2B PR/marketing firm in NYC specializing in thought-leadership for financial services firms, thought highly enough of MassMutual’s “man on the street” and retirement advice videos to honor us with their 2009 “Bestie” for our use of YouTube.

BlissPR compiled a list of what they believe are the “best of” social media strategies. According to them, these companies put their stakeholders and clients first – not the brand or the channel.

Best Use of YouTube: MassMutual. The sponsored channel on YouTube strays from the pack in its “man on the street” and advice-driven approach. Instead of simply posting commercials – like most other financial services channels – MassMutual’s video content provides viewers with retirement advice from experts and “regular people.” While its subscriber base is less than that of E-Trade (which is probably one of the more popular financial services YouTube channels, due to the E-Trade “baby” commercials), the channel has gotten significant play.

Here’s MassMutual’s YouTube channel:

Would you like a moral to the story? Here it is: First, always pick up your phone, especially when the boss calls. Second, watch those emails. You never know who’s gonna read ’em.

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