social media expert interviewIn this video I interview Kelly Thul, Director, Enterprise Internet Solutions at State Farm Insurance.  Kelly shares insights into how State Farm has over a million views on YouTube, how they communicate using YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

You’ll learn how State Farm took advantage of a partnership to get started in social media and learn about the environment three years ago.  You’ll also find useful tips for your corporate social media strategy. So be sure to read the takeaways below and leave your comments below once you’ve listened to the video.

In this video, you’ll hear how State Farm:

  • Publishes different types of content on their YouTube channel to engage with different audiences and which one gets the most views.
  • Finds internal social communication important for their activity and what the key factors are in getting this right.
  • Explains the different uses of social media (internal versus external) to their employees.
  • Uses YouTube, Twitter and Facebook individually and how all three work together.
  • Creates different types of relationships on Twitter compared to Facebook.
  • Uses an iPhone app, Pocket Agent, to provide services and connectivity to their agents and how the value this brings makes it a popular app.

Kelly’s advice for other businesses is to be inclusive in who you involve.  Get all of your departments involved because this is an environment where things can happen quicker across different functions.

Connect with State Farm on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Mobile and on their newly released Learning Center.

What is your favorite takeaway? Please share it in the comments below.

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  • I appreciated hearing how the relationships on Twitter and Facebook are different. Many companies are guilty of sending the same exact message out to both platforms, instead of understanding the difference. Twitter is great for breaking news, and Facebook for extended stories.

    I also enjoyed hearing about how State Farm got started using the social web to test out how to use it, type of content, etc. What a great way to get upper management on board! Thanks for sharing the video.

  • Michael Stelzner! I just want to thank you and thank you’re support team. Social Media Examiner is freaking awesome! I seriously look forward to updates sent to my email every day from SME. And my boss doesn’t mind me devoting time to SME because it enhances my knowledge, skills, and abilities. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

  • dooleymedia

    I remember hearing this guy through another article/video earlier this year. I can’t believe he still says “from that perspective” so often! 😉 Good information. Thanks!

  • Thanks so much!

  • We all have our little things we do 🙂 Thanks!

  • Kelly Thul

    I know… working on it 🙂

  • Linda Garbe

    If you ever have the chance it would be interesting to hear how State Farm deals with the negative messages about them that appear in social media. I heard one of Kelly’s employees talk about a woman who poses as a Sate Farm person to respond to social media messages. She is attempting to stir the pot.

  • Alexander Mathew

    Who knew any insurance company would some day be able to use social media to advertise, reach out to its customers and educate people about insurance and what it has to offer. I like the humane touch Mr. Thull added when he said “we offer just general insurance information on our Facebook page to people”. That means a lot, especially when a company is looking to boost and keep its good will on a high. Great piece from the social media examiner. Looking forward to reading more and understanding more about the social media arena!

  • Priyesha Rajan

    This is exactly what I have been searching for! I am working as a social media person for a health insurance company in India and we are trying to come up with a strategy for social media for the first time. Our aim is to ‘Uncomplicate Health Insurance’ using social media. This is pretty uncommon for an industry like this, so would really appreciate any ideas/ advice! Michael Stelzner, thanks for this article!

  • Planabrand

    I’d like to know what State Farm’s PR department is ‘listening’ to on Twitter. Thank you for your content!

  • I’d love to see State Farm Twisplays (Twitter displays on simple inexpensive one-line LED signs) in their offices for internal and external communications!

  • Judy Seiler

    Nice interview Michael – as always you rock the house. Kelly Thul came across very well too – seems like a really solid guy. It’s always great to see ‘down-to-earth’ people breaking new ground re: marketing. State Farm’s mobile apps sound interesting — will have to check them out.

    I found Kelly’s comment on using Twitter for one-to-one communication while FB is used to communicate with many (‘groups’ I believe he said) a terrific reminder for organizations that social media is about listening and connecting, not pushing products or corporate speak.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  • Judy Seiler


    How do you balance seeming too pushy for SM when you link from FB to your YouTube ads? How do you position these links? (e.g. asking for feedback? low key fyi?…) Do you truly test new ads (never run b4) thru SM?

    – Judy

  • Thanks Judy

  • I won’t be surprised when people are empowered to register insurance claims via SMS or twitter!

  • Angela Russell

    State Farm & their PR team are misleading in their descriptions of “a woman who poses as State Farm”.

    I think they are referring to an “OBVIOUS PARODY” account on Twitter. (please refer to BP_Global_PR on Twitter at for another example of an “Obvious Parody”, and also “Parody” here:

    The account they are speaking of was clearly labeled “Obvious PARODY” on it’s Twitter Page. It also corrected Twitter users that mistook it for State Farm, and Tweeted frequently that it was a Parody & it did conform to Twitter’s User Guidelines about Parody Accounts. (Twitter SUPPORTS Parody Accounts.)

    One way that State Farm has dealt with such negative messages in Social Media is by censoring & deleting messages from their Facebook page ( I have screenshots of many examples).

    Another method, used by State Farm Public Relations Employee Jairon L. Wills (at the behest of State Farm CEO Ed Rust, Jr) which is much more vicious & arrogant, is the intentional psychological terrorism of a Former State Farm Customer. Jairon & Ed Rust, Jr sends out PR emails (to COMPLETE STRANGERS) that contain the Former State Farm Customer’s little girls FULL NAMES, & other identifying information. If you wish to see a copy of these emails, a copy is posted at I did not add the copy of the court docs, as they are what contain the little girls’ names & other identifying information, but you can clearly see in reading the email that the court docs WERE INCLUDED with the emails.

    I realize that PR & Ad people have a job to do… in fact the Family of the Former State Farm Customers mentioned above were owners of an Advertising Agency for many years, but keep this in mind: Your “enemy” is a family that has been harmed in unimaginable ways, & their only power is the truth. State Farm is using the power given to them by that Family, and millions of other Policyholders in the form of BILLIONS OF DOLLARS to bully, lie, cheat & cover-up their actions.

    When you cash your check from State Farm, keep in mind who paid you… the Policyholders. And, yes…Even the cheated ones.

  • Sadly I can’t get the video to work or find it on your YouTube channel 🙁 Shame it’s always good to find case studies of financial services.

    Have I gone completely bonkers?