The Power of Twitter – An Allstate Story

From Richard Hammer:

I'm a technology adopter and tend to integrate new technologies into my life easily. I guess there are advantages to being the Director of Web Application Development at Modea ( @Modea ) which make that a little easier [wink].
Richard Hammer of Modea When Twitter was launched, I was suspicious, as the business model was based on instant, seamless communication about the where's, what's and why's of everyday lives:  where the hottest new dance club was; what bars were having drink specials; where this movie star was last seen eating dinner; basically sharing detailed updates on some of the mundane details of life. At its heart, micro-blogging at its best.
What it has become [and has the possibility of becoming] is a completely different story and I would like to share one of several experiences:
Like so many people out there, I have a house on the market for sale. I transplanted my family from NoVa to Blacksburg, Virginia last spring to take advantage of an amazing job opportunity. The house in NoVa is empty, but utilities are still on to make it "show" friendly.

A number of weeks ago, we had a bitter cold stretch connected to an ice storm. Needless to say, the house lost power for several days and the pipes became frozen and burst. I'm fairly handy at sweating copper pipe, so I trekked up to see what could be done. As it turns out, we had not 1 frozen pipe break, but 18, and the recently installed commercial tile floor in the basement was destroyed.
I posted a status update on Twitter:

"The good news is it's not a total loss; the bad news is it's more than I'm able to get done in a weekend. I'm in good hands with Allstate."
Not 5 minutes later … I see an @reply … from @Allstate.

"@FireByDragon I'm glad!"
I @reply, thinking this is quite a unique opportunity, given the context of my status update and my unfamiliarity with corporate entities monitoring Twitter:

"@allstate Me too!!! Happy customer since '92. History: 3 rentals, 2 homes, 7 cars, 2 trucks, 3 motorcycles and an RV. Thank you!"
@Allstate's response:

"@FireByDragon Thank you for the kind words! I'm glad you had a good claims experience."
Now I am impressed by Allstate's use of this medium. They are monitoring the Twitter stream and providing positive customer service in this brave new medium.

Two weeks later, @Allstate offered this direct message, DM, communication and me as a reference:

"@[Twitter User] Sorry, was out of office when you asked earlier about Allstate insurance. Try @FireByDragon Or. DM me for more."
There are those out there who might make these points:

  1. It's alarming to think someone else is monitoring your information stream.
  2. It's more alarming that they would be bold enough to interject themselves in that information stream.
  3. It's even more alarming that they would make a referral…even within a context.

Maybe my work history and experience make me unique, but I go the other way.

Here is a brand and a company that, in my opinion, gets it. Here is a visible, public social medium where people are sharing publicly their views and thoughts on anything and everything in their lives. Communities are sharing their experiences and current state of consciousness. Consumers are expressing opinions, both positive and negative, about the world around them and how they interact with it. It would be a missed opportunity for any brand to ignore this medium.  Listening and being aware of what is being said about their band, allows them to, in some cases, actually do something positive and nurturing about it.
Hats off to @Allstate. They are truly adopting this medium as a brand marketing tool and have a positive plan in place moving forward. They are ahead of the curve.


Handshake 2.0 – on Twitter @handshake20 - follows Richard Hammer on Twitter @FireByDragon.

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  1. Richard, great story. Companies who use social media tools, such as Twitter, to respond to customer needs deserve a high-five! But now you’ve got me wondering, can Twitter help you sell your newly piped house in NOVA and me sell my lovely brick 2-story in Martinsville, VA? I hope so!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Richard – I had this conversation (via Twitter, no less) a few weeks ago with some folks after one or two people I communicate with there were complaining about their property managers here in the area. I knew one of the managers, emailed them and instructed the renter to do the same. Within 24 hours, the problem was resolved.

    The point is that companies would do well to be listening to what’s being said on sites like Twitter. One property manager looks good for resolving the problem, the other has no clue that there ever was a problem, but neither were actually listening. @Allstate, @mailtrust, @modea are all examples of those that are. Well done.

    See you on Twitter (@NRVLiving)!

  3. It would seem that companies that are not using Twitter for customer service will soon be at a disadvantage

  4. Great article… Thanks for sharing.

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