Ian Muress has been in the claims business for 33 years and is CEO for all of Crawford’s international businesses outside the Americas, including the U.K., CEMEA and Asia-Pacific regions. Here, he gives a first-hand account of his decision to join Twitter. You can follow him at @IanMuress.
At New Year’s in 2010 I made a resolution to improve the way I communicate with the market and my colleagues at Crawford & Company.
Without any reliable statistics available I can’t be sure if I’m still in the minority of CEOs who are on twitter, but I’m glad I took the decision to join up.
For an organisation like ours which is spread over so many countries, the ability to communicate with colleagues and followers is one I value highly. My schedule dictates that two-way dialogue with more than 3000 staff on three continents via email or phone isn’t always possible so networks like Twitter and LinkedIn have opened up new ways for me to keep in touch.
It’s almost two years on from those first tentative tweets and I’m a convert. As a twitter user, it’s become my primary source of essential information; tweets incorporating news headlines are much faster than scanning web sites one by one and insurance industry news updates are rarely missed from my timeline or when I use one of the specialist “insurance tweets” lists that our communications team has set up.
I try to maintain my own activity on social networks in a business context and while I admit to following one or two of my favourite (mostly football!) related twitterers, the content that I publish always has a professional edge. It’s easy to forget that what you tweet can be read by anyone, not only the people that “follow” you.
As many people do, at first I thought I would simply be “broadcasting” my thoughts and ideas when I publish an update. In fact my activity on social media has provoked debate with other insurance industry professionals, journalists and colleagues. It’s shown me that claims issues are very often at the forefront of people’s minds and that is a refreshing message.
Crawford’s relationships with the media have also evolved through our collective use of social networks. Reporters who are not on twitter are generally in the minority so I’m pleased to have had a number of fruitful interactions with our preferred trade media, with whom it’s essential we maintain dialogue as a means of staying visible to our customers.
While twitter has proven its value, LinkedIn has also provided great benefits. With the advice of our communications team both I and the majority of senior management in the UK have given their LinkedIn pages a makeover. It’s largely been a case of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and I’m told that your profile will generally appear high on the list of results when your name is searched on Google. Put simply, if you want a customer to find you quickly be sure your LinkedIn page is up to scratch.
At Crawford we have a social media policy which outlines all of the do’s and don’ts and, of course, while our spokespeople are the only individuals permitted to speak on behalf of the company via twitter or any media, there are ways everyone can use social networks as part of their professional life, such as by creating a LinkedIn profile that customers will find useful. I’m very proud that as a company we’ve taken this step and I believe it sets us up for the future with our best foot forward.