Insurance organizations need to make capitalizing on social media a higher priority, a new report says.

The report, authored by Karen Furtado, partner of Boston-based SMA Strategy Meets Action and Timothy Radwanski, VP Client Services of Boston-based Convertiv, says beyond obvious applications such as brand building, use of social media offers many business benefits.

“These technologies hold great promise for use in customer-facing applications as well as for making improvements internal to the enterprise,” the reports states. “They provide new sales and servicing avenues, new methods for cultivating professional development, new avenues for building teams, and valuable help for meeting staffing objectives.”

While implementation of a social media plan is unlikely to present major technology or implementation challenges, it does require many strategic considerations and some new tools. The report advises insurers to consider investing in analytic and social listening tools to enable them to monitor mentions of their brand across the social Web.

“By “listening” to the open dialogue about your brand, you can not only weave your brand into the conversation, but also begin to measure metrics over time concerning brand such as sentiment, frequency of mentions, tonality, social reach, influence, and relative prominence,” the report states.

Furtado and Radwanski note that social media is here to stay and insurers need to understand how and where it is impacting their business and where it can be used to their advantage. “Standards and expectations for interaction with customers are being set outside the industry,” they write. “The image and brand of insurance organizations is being shaped, either intentionally or accidentally, by an explosion in the use of social media platforms and tools. While the complexity and dynamics can sometimes be daunting, this is no time to hide.”